Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 grouse hunting

I originally posted this as a guest post over at The Unlucky Hunter.

So in my family September is Grouse hunting. We look forward to it for all 8 months once duck hunting is finished in late January. Grouse hunting is also my wife's favorite hunting season. She loves spending time with me, our daughter Maddy and the dogs. We love the mountain top hikes and the views while looking for blue grouse, as well as chasing the ruffed grouse in the creek bottoms where the grouse flush and you are lucky to get a clear shot. The good days are when we get to do both.

First two grouse of year

This year my wife was the lucky one who shot the first two grouse, and the first day ended slow my wife shot 2 and I shot one grouse and one rabbit.

Later in the year we decided to check out some roads we have never walked in past years. They did produce some grouse so we will add them into our routine of closed roads to hunt.

But the best day came one evening when my wife, Maddy and I decided to go for a hunt after work. we left the house at about 4pm. We first went to the 300 rd and I saw a quick glimpse of what I believed to be a grouse run from the road to the bushes.  So the breaks came on and we jumped out of my old jeep.  It always a great feeling when your standing in the bushes and can hear the grouse running on all the dry leaves around you, but you cant see them.

Maddy getting ready to go hunting

Finally the group of grouse erupts into the thick creek bottom. I could see one perched in a tree and as I was about to shoot it my wife yells I see one. Of course I think it is the same one I see, but being the good husband I am I tell her to shoot it. Bang, she shoots and says she got it, and lucky me my grouse is still in my tree so I shoot it. My wife gets into the creek bottom with the dogs to retrieve the grouse. While she was down there I saw a bee's nest in the tree that looks like a grouse. Of course right at that time my wife says she sees another one. I warn her of the nest and she is confident that what she sees is a grouse. When she shoots her grouse another one takes off right next to my head and flies up the hill behind me.

So I walk up to the top of the hill and it flushes.  Just as it is about to drop over the next hill I dump it. After I find it I walked back down to the road and I end up shooting one more out of a fir tree. So we got a total of 5 ruffed grouse out of this group. In Washington State a daily limit of grouse is 4 per person of ruffed or blue grouse only.

Next we decided to drive over to the next canyon over and hunt the ridge between the that canyon and the one we were in currently. We drive to the top of the road and walk up to the top of the ridge. My wife goes towards the top of the ridge and I walk low around the shaded backside of the ridge with our dogs Remi and Lily our German Wire Haired Pointing Griffons.

All of a sudden Remi gets birdy. Of course every dog is different but Remi gets low to the ground and her nose works back and forth quickly and stedily low to the ground making a heavy sniffing sound and her tail stays very parallel to the ground and wags back and forth. She continues to work through the tall grass and I have to walk at a fast pace to keep up with her. Then Lily come over and gets birdy as well. We work the hillside for about 60 yards, then both dogs stop and go on hard point. I look up and about 15 yards in front of them there is a big blue grouse sitting on a rock above the grass. As I shoot the grouse 3 or 4 more take off from the grass below it.

My wife come running over to see if she can get into the action but of course everything is gone by the time she gets there.

So we walk to the top of the ridge with my wife a little disapointed. But lucky her the dogs get birdy again. They work for about 20 yards and with out warning blue grouse after blue grouse start getting up out of the  sun dried grass. It was amazing so see them flush like this.  It was very hard for me not to start shooting but my limit was done.  My wife saw where some landed in a tree down the steep rocky hill. Like the determined hunter she is we hike our butts down the hill. She shot two of the grouse, and as usual when hunting steep terrain when the grouse fell they had to roll a few yards down the hill. Luckily we have our amazing dogs  who happily go down an bring them back up to us. We hiked back up over the top and back down to where the jeep was parked and took some pictures right as we were losing the light of the sun.

We drove home that night with the feeling of MAN THAT WAS AN  AWSOME HUNT!!! And a story we will tell for ever.

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