Dad and I took a long weekend to kick off the upland season with trip to northern Michigan for grouse. We flushed grouse and woodcock every day and even though we all got some shots, we finished the trip empty handed. I can say I probably learned more about grouse hunting this trip than ever before.
Our first stop was the Slagle Trout club near Cadillac, Michigan. This club has been around since about 1894. It is primarily a trout fishing club with a small hatchery, open stream, and located near the Manistee river. The club also has several hundred acres of prime grouse habitat. We hunted this patch the first afternoon for about 2.5 hours.
I was running Rye for the first time this season and my dad had his German Wirehaired Pointer, Elsie, out as well. Elsie made a one or two great points, but we were a bit out of position to get shots. The leaves were still pretty thick which made shooting a bit difficult.
|Rye and her sister Cora|
Our host at Slagle is the owner of Rye’s sister. Her name is Cora. She did great with grouse. She works a bit slower than Rye and made a few points that resulted in birds in hand. Rye covered a ton of ground. I am really looking forward to watching her work pheasant and quail this fall and winter.
|The Manistee river down below|
The previous week the weather had been pretty rough, but we were lucky to have several beautiful days. Most days reach into the 50’s with sun everywhere. Despite the good weather, the ground was still very wet in some places. I took time to put some sno-seal on my boots before the trip so even though they don’t have a Gore-Tex liner, they kept my feet dry the whole time.
The next morning we headed into nearby Mesick, MI to grab some breakfast before we hit the national forest for several hours of hunting.
|Great breakfast at a small town diner.|
Over the course of 3.5 days we hunted with 5 different, but all knowledgeable grouse hunters. After a few last minute stories and a end of the day drink we headed to the U.P. to stay at our house and grouse hunt the national forest that surrounds that area.
|The woods got a bit thick but that’s what the birds like.|
|Occasionally we find these huge white Pines. Pretty amazing to think trees like this used to cover the U.P before the major logging took place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.|
Before we headed home we stopped for the classic tourist shot in front of the Mackinac Bridge.
I learned a ton about grouse this trip and even though we never caught up with any birds it was a great trip. The killing is but a small part of the overall experience. Every trip I get to spend with my dad and other friends and family is valuable time. On this trip we made some new friends along the way and strengthened old friendships.