Monday, November 21, 2016

Grouse Camp 2016

     Grouse camp has come and gone, without much fanfare. As is usual Ginger and I pointed the car north where I met with BK and his Labrador, Ruby. This year BK's father FG made a long trip to  joined us in camp. Unfortunately, grouse are on the down side of their population cycle, so we didn't move as many grouse as we have in past years. Still, as cliche as it sounds , a day in the grouse woods is far better than a day in the office.

     The weather didn't cooperate with our plans either. Of the 11 days I spend in camp the first 5-6 were quite warm. Actually, hot. The weather started out in the low to mid 60's, which will wear a dog down really quickly, not to mention what it does to us two-legged hunters following them. The warm weather also does not provide for good scent conditions for the dogs. poor scenting, and worn down dogs breathing through their mouths does not make for a good combination when the grouse cycle is low. Of course the warm weather didn't last, but rather than become the seasonal cool, dry weather we all love to hunt in, it turned cold,....and windy,.....and overcast,.....and it snowed. Now, cold isn't terrible, nor is snow, but overcast doesn't help, and windy just plain messes things up. All was not lost, however, as the cold wind delivered the Woodcock, which had been more or less absent. The arrival of the Woodcock made for a couple of fun, hot barreled shooting.

A rare glimpse of sunlight

     Sadly, this was the first time I can remember, that I did not shoot a grouse at grouse camp. That is not to say others did not shoot grouse, but my shot opportunities were few and far between, and I did not connect. The first half of the trip we averaged 10 grouse flushes each day, and only a handful of woodcock flushed. The second half of the trip the balanced changed; fewer grouse flushes, but double digit Woodcock flushes.

Ginger with a couple of Woodcock taken with the 28g Gamba

     On the plus side of things, my best day saw 35 flushes over the dogs. I also hit another milestone; I killed birds will all 3 guns I brought to camp. I usually bring two guns, because it's always wise to have a back-up gun when traveling.  I couldn't decide which two guns to bring, so I brought three. I brought my 20g Citori, 20g Beretta SxS, and 28g Gamba O/U.  I've struggled with my SxS over the years, but have recently changed my shooting style a bit, and have been shooting it quite well. In fact, I killed more birds with the SxS than either of the other guns, and have actually fallen in love with it.

Ginger with a couple of Woodcock taken with the 20g Beretta SxS