I have been wanting to hunt grouse for a couple of years now and finally got up the nerve to give it a shot. I didn't know exactly where I was going or what I was doing but I had asked enough questions and done enough research that I thought I had a chance at a bird. I had been hunting woodcock and quail for the last few weekends and had pretty good legs under me but man getting up the ridgeline to these birds was not easy. My sister went with me and she doesn't hunt at all. I was very suprised that she made it up the ridgeline and still had the energy to hunt for a bit. We only got to hunt for a couple of hours as most of our time was spent just finding the area we wanted to hunt. We saw some scat and heard some drumming but no bird. I am hoping to go back one more time before the season is over.
An old logging road:
I made it to a good spot to start hunting:
My sister makes it up:
A fun first day of grouse hunting...The views were fantastic, even if we didn't get a bird.
I think an often overlooked aspect of small game hunting is the well aimed shot. It sounds obvious but in my experience good hunters often rush their shot due to adrenaline and the excitement of the hunt when a bird or rabbit is flushed. I remember when I was a teenager I went on a rabbit hunt with my father and a few of his friends. My father had taught me at a very young age to aim well. To get my site aimed up as close as perfect as I could before I took the shot, but not to take so long that the game got away. We were out with this group of men that were experienced hunters. They had private land to hunt on and plenty of it. They had the nicest dogs and very nice guns and dressed well but out of the first 5 rabbits I got three. Finally after I had bagged my 4th rabbit my father came over and whispered for me to lay off as I was being given new nicknames like "dead eye" and "Davey Crockett." I noticed, and my father did too, that most of these guys shot quickly...very quickly. They didn't take the time to line their site up properly and no doubt felt overly confident because they were using shotguns but the principal of a well aimed shot and a steady trigger squeeze applies to both rifles and shot guns. Too many hunters jerk the trigger on their shotgun and pull the gun out of alignment with their target. Take the time that it takes to place a well aimed shot and to squeeze the trigger without jerking the gun and you will see your first shot kills increase. It sounds simple but it's a concept that is often overlooked, even by the experienced hunter.
I had little time on opening day to get my bird. It was my sister-in-laws 40th and we had a lot to do to prepare for her surprise party. I left out early only to find that the roads and countryside were thick with fog. I had resigned myself to a piece of jerky for breakfast but decided to stop for a bit to eat. After fueling up I was off again down the country roads of rural Tennessee. My spot was about an hour outside of Nashville. It was nice to get out of the city and get back to nature. I took a few unnecessary side roads to take in the fall colors:
My best bud is too old and had to stay at home, leaving me to kick up leafs and branches for woodcock:
I managed to flush two birds but one flushed as I stepped to go by him and by the time I turned around he was gone. Next week I'll go for quail and scout for turkey:
Jenkins (my dog and butler) didn't make the hunt but I did let him take in the scent when I got home. At one time he would have been wide eyed and anxious to play with the bird if I let him smell it. This time he seemed to enjoy it, but the drive was gone. Here's to a few more years at home on the soft carpet for Jenkins...a damn good dog.