The idea of Grouse School was to give a sportsman who has never hunted grouse or woodcock enough info to confidently make a trip into the woods in search of them. Of course every RGS event gets a number of pretty loyal RGS members, so I had to also include enough of the more technical side of grouse and woodcock to keep them engaged. Habitat being the number one thing any grouse and woodcock hunter should really understand, it wasn't very difficult to build a program that would appeal to every experience level.
Naturally, I doubted very much if anyone would take my word that I know a thing or two about grouse and woodcock hunting, so I had to bring a few people in. After a few phone calls, and emails I'd put together a group of guys I felt could really deliver the goods. Regional RGS biologist Andy Weik would lecture on habitat. Massachusetts state biologist David Scarpitta would lecture on hunting opportunities in Massachusetts. Bruce Bennett, who hosts an annual benefit hunt in NY, would lecture on private land management. After Lunch I would give a brief lecture on grouse dogs before Andy, with his red setter, and I, with my springer, would take the group out into the woods where we would do a grouse dog demo on released quail. While on the trail we would discuss tactics a bit, and naturally habitat, as we were in it. Outdoor writer Tom Keer would then lecture on Guns, loads, shooting technique, tactics, safety, and equipment. The event would culminate with an open floor, round table discussion.
The day went pretty much as planned. Being the first time I'd attempted anything like this there were a few small snags, but if they weren't pointed out to you, you'd have never noticed them. All in all, I, as well as the others involved were very happy with the way the event turned out. I will certainly make some changes to allow future events flow more smoothly. I hope the attendees were just as pleased, and walked away feeling like they learned something.
I have a few ideas for other grouse and woodcock hunting educational clinics in the future. Hopefully they will go as well, if not better, than the Grouse School Debut.
And lest I forget; a big thank you to Andy Weik, David Scarpitti, Bruce Bennett, Tom Keer, Bryan Lehr, Paul Schwalbe, Ernie Foster Jr, and the Massapoag Sportsman's Club. I also need to thank paul Fuller of Bird Dogs Afield who generously donated several items for door prizes at the event.
Me starting the day with introductions
Andy lecturing on habitat and scouting
David lecturing on hunting in Mass
Bruce lecturing on land management
(l-r) David, Andy, Myself, Tom
The Massapoag youth skeet team was on hand selling raffle tickets