First Snow

The arrival of the first snow of the season throws another curveball at us grouse hunters, as if we didn’t have the odds stacked against us already. One opinion on this occurence is that the grouse and woodcock will hold tighter after the first snow of the season, as the young birds especially have never experienced such a phenomenon before. In other words, they’re quite shocked by what has happened, and don’t really know what to do about it. Well, we put that theory to the test on the last hunt with Chris and Chip Ramel a couple of days ago.

Being hardened grouse hunters, Chris and Chip were undaunted by the 30 degree temperature, with gusts of 20 MPH that day, so we headed in to one of my favorite woodcock covers, in the hopes that the lousy weather had delayed our timberdoodles from their annual migration. Our hopes were confirmed, as we immediately started contacting woodcock, with Chris’s setter Dotty and Rudy doing the honors of pointing bird after bird.
While Chris and Chip didn’t exactly put on a clinic for prospective wingshooters, they did manage to bag three woodcock in the morning. Dotty and Rudy both put on pointing exhibitions however, as they each had great woodcock points on several of the 15 - 20 we saw that morning.

We then decided to look for grouse in the afternoon, as we hadn’t seen a single one in the morning, so we headed to what I would describe as “feeding covers” of wild apples and highbush cranberries, where the grouse eat themselves silly nearly every afternoon. It couldn’t have worked out better. Monty did a great job finding lots of grouse, and actually pointing six of them. His best moment by far was his point of a group of four grouse that were seeking refuge from the weather. They managed to give Chris and Chip the slip however - perhaps we’ll meet them again some other day. We ended up moving a dozen apple picking grouse in this cover alone, which was quite amazing. At our final “feeding cover” we moved another six grouse, with Monty also doing the honors with another nice point on a departing grouse. Once again, this turned out to be one of those “great days” that we’ll remember for a long time. We’ve had a couple of days like this so far this year, and hopefully they’re not over yet!
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