I just got back late last night from the trip. Gosh, it was a great trip. We saw a ton of cool stuff, put a lot of miles on our boots, and managed to kill a few more birds. Every time we drove around I saw really pretty looking rivers and streams. Turns out there is a Blue Ribbon trout stream that runs right through town. I’d love to do a cast and blast trip up there some year.
I was curious how all my gear would hold up to 7 days of grouse hunting. Will and I walked about 4-6 miles each day and the dogs did a lot more. After the first few days I tried out my Danner Mountain Light boots and was pleasantly surprised as they did a great job. My MK Field pants did great and never tore or snagged despite all those days of crashing through heavy brush, saplings, pine trees, and slash piles. As I mentioned, my vest did fine but I really need to look for an additional vest for this type of hunting. The biggest issue was being able to comfortably carry enough water for Rye and myself. I’ve got a few vests in mind, so we’ll see.
I ate lots of great food from small town cafes and restaurants to the local butcher shop. The local beers were pretty refreshing at the end of the day. I really got a glimpse of a different culture and region and met some new folks. Those are the best things about hunting trips.
Throughout the trip some days were better than other bird-wise. On the 5th day we had one of our best days flush wise. We flushed around 35 birds and killed 3 grouse and a few woodcock that day. Many of the birds were using the pine trees pretty heavily which makes getting shots very difficult at best. Yesterday morning we took one last go at finding birds and were rewarded by 16 flushes and excellent dog work. Rye had a few of her best points of the whole week and the birds cooperated. I need to plan my shotgun shell strategy out a bit better next time. A close flushing grouse is a different kind of shot.
Our last bird of the day yesterday was a perfect example of the crazy things that happen while grouse hunting. Will and I were walking through a tall stand of pines when a bird flushed from 50 feet or so above us. We emptied our shotguns taking snapshots at the bird. Will felt good about his shots. As we stood there waiting, enough branches and stuff came falling down to fill a wheelbarrow. Will continued to follow the bird with his eyes even though I didn’t think it had been hit. But within a few seconds Will yelled that the bird went down and off he ran. In a few moments I heard Will yell in excitement. Hyde had tackled the bird as it began to run off. We had worked hard for this bird.
It was a great trip. I learned so much and got see so many cool things and spend time with a good friend.