Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grouse Camp 2013

     There are many ways in life to define success, just like there are many ways in grouse camp to define success. Many define success in the grouse woods purely by how many grouse they take home at the end of the day. I don't disagree, but find success in the grouse woods to be about so much more, especially when you're at camp. And this year, Grouse Camp 2013 was a success on so many levels.
     Camp started out on a bit of a low note; BK had made plans for his father to join us for the week. It would have been not only his first grouse camp, but his first grouse hunt, and first days in the uplands. It wasn't to be. An unfortunate, and impossible to live down error in vacation planning had BK and I driving to camp while BK's father prepared his gear for the camp (our camp) which he had thought was next week. He'd mistakenly marked his calendar, and scheduled his vacation a week late. We'd sally forth without him, and I suspect next year he'll make up for his lost season. I'm planning now to spend extra time on the clay course, as I'm sure he's doing now.
      Arriving we found the camp and the beautiful view to be how we've grown to expect them; rugged, and welcoming. The weather, however, was not helping our cause. It was warm, and wet. rain fell every night, and even dampened us a bit during the day once or twice. The temperature, too, was discomforting, hovering in the hi 50's to low 60's, we sweated it out, and the dogs were watered often. The lack of a hard, killing frost meant the understory was still quite green, despite most of the leaves being down. Green down low means tough scenting conditions, but they never really became an issue.


     Bird numbers were reported to be down, but we found that to just not be true. Sure, they weren't as thick as last year, but there was certainly no shortage of grouse. Woodcock, on the other hand, though we did find some, were much thinner. Remember those temps I told you about in the last paragraph? Well, it would seem that with out the ground freezing hard up north, the woodcock haven't any reason to travel south. And they hadn't. In the end, we averaged about one grouse flush every 20 minute, as compared to the one flush every 15 minute we experience last year. Of course, that's an average. Some coverts were hot, and others required we walk a bit further between birds. The wettest mornings seemed to be the best; one morning showing us 13 grouse before noon, and another showing us 16 grouse and 15 woodcock before noon. With camp being about so much more than just killing grouse, we seldom hunted in the afternoons, opting for 9-12/1ish days, with an occasional end of day 30-60minute hunt. In total we hunted roughly 18 hours, and I was party to 56 grouse flushes, and 24 woodcock flushes. And yes, BK and I each killed a few birds. They were delicious.

**Photos 1,2,7,8,9 by BK

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