I hosted the guys from SportDOG at my grouse camp last week, as we do with a lot of our suppliers. We had a very good hunt, we got into grouse and woodcock and managed to bag a few of both. Most importantly we got in a lot of good dog work. A good time had by all!
Today my uncle jack showed true grouse hunter grit. We were hunting some private Timber that had been hand pruned around the best trees leaving lots of one to two inch pointed spikes everywhere like little punji sticks; similar to the ones the Vietcong used. One misstep cost uncle jack a visit to a nearby emergency room but not before we finished pushing off the cover as planned. Six stitches and avoid cleaning and on to the next spot in the rain! Crazy ? Yea. Only one week left for the first grouse season. This is enough proof that “Real grouse hunters are tough!” and his comfortable and stylish Filson cover cloth brush pants never tore either!
Back to the thick stuff ….Buck
Happy Veterans Day to all those who served our country and a big shout-out to our newest staff member and armed services veteran, Jim Schrock. Jim was one of the many soldiers who were injured from an Al-Qaeda improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan . YES, A true wounded warrior ships your package every time you order from Lion Country Supply and he does a great job for us and really appreciates his job and we appreciate him. He was recently awarded The Purple Heart and that is another really cool story for later. If you are ordering, ask to speak to Jim and thank him for his serving our country and protecting our freedoms. Maybe he’ll send you a photo of his new English Setter Puppy, Ranger, who was a really cool gift from one of our customers/attendees of Bird Dog Days to Jim for his service to our country.
Thanks to all who serve and Good Hunting ….Buck.
The Grouse Report
Bad News First: The grouse are definitely down in the Alleghenies.
The Good News: My shooting is somehow better! No, I didn’t bust a single clay bird this year but the dove season opener was great fun with real wild birds so I’ll not question that any further. The grouse here are definitely feeding on the great wild crabapple crop we have. So take note: Hunt the crabapple thickets! All Crataegus species especially red hawthorns (called redhaws in West Virginia) and all crabapple species are attracting grouse as their most abundant feed source here. One flight of woodcock came through with the first few snowflakes last week. Also Beech nuts, another preferred food here , are very scarce in PA this year and birds are feeding on them now if you can find trees that have the spiny nuts in your area(just look up when you see a smooth grey beech tree and hunt around them if they have the nuts still hanging). If you are lucky enough to have Wild Grapes, the ALL TIME preferred Grouse food in PA, please CALL ME!
Lastly – I’m finding mostly single birds indicating a poor hatch of new grouse but successful broods, although few are pretty large averaging 6 birds for me so far.
Well…..I gotta tend to achy dogs and get ready to go back to camp tomorrow. I hope you and your dogs are into birds!
Autumns Best! ….Buck
Sorry about my lack of posts as I’ve been hunting but here’s one email I found humorous. My wife always gives the homeless money; let’s see if she laughs about the reason proposed here for this chaps unique appearance:
I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless man who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner.
I took out my wallet, extracted ten dollars and asked,”If I give you this money, will you buy some beer with it instead of dinner?”
“No, I had to stop drinking years ago,” the homeless man replied.
“Will you use it to go fishing instead of buying food?” I asked.
“No, I don’t waste time fishing,” the homeless man said.”I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive.”
“Will you spend this on hunting equipment?” I asked.
“Are you NUTS!” replied the homeless man. “I haven’t gone hunting in 20 years!”
“Well,” I said, “I’m not going to give you money. Instead, I’m going to take you home for a shower and a terrific dinner cooked by my wife.”
The homeless man was astounded. “Won’t your wife be furious with you for doing that?”
I replied, “Don’t worry about that. It’s important for her to see what a man looks like after he has given up drinking, fishing and hunting.”
P.S. it was a GREAT first week of bird season here in PA weather wise. Cool, wet weather makes great hunting and ideal scenting conditions for the dogs. It Beats the hot dry first week we usually have here. I’ll write more in my next field report which will be posted soon. Keep an eye out.
Meet my friend Curly. This is the coolest wild turkey I have ever met. My friend Randy Barger, the gentleman who cooks pig each year for us at Bird Dog Days was given this bird and he loves people! He follows Randy around like a dog and enjoys visitors too! If you’re by Randy’s butcher shop in the Pennsylvania Furnace area, stop in and say hello to Curly!
Finally, I found two broods of young grouse on my daily morning dog runs. I’m feeling a little better about the outlook for grouse here in Pennsylvania this fall. Both broods were a size of five to six birds which I feel is about average for here. Still, I hate to say this but I think PA grouse numbers are down compared to last year which was not a good year for us.
On both finds the momma grouse flushed first with all the racket she could make and attempted to turn me and my approaching setter by taking a hard left. Smart hunters let momma go for next year and push on the way you were going. If she had a brood they will usually be 10-30 yards ahead sitting tight hoping to remain undetected. Have your dog “hunt close” and circle that area ahead so that he’ll get a nice point!
Now is where I openly lie to my dogs and command “dead bird” and take my hat off and wave it at the ground frantically saying “dead!” “dead!” in my best southern drawl. I then pray and watch while hoping my dog will point a giant covey and “all will be good” here in Penns Woods! Here’s hoping your covers are full of birds wherever you live and that all of your dogs are rock steady! Please send me your preseason predictions for wild birds in your state to my blog here and I’ll send one of you an LCS logo hat signed by me AND my dog.
A young cowboy from Texas goes off to college.
Half way through the semester, having foolishly
squandered all his money …. he calls home.
“Dad,” he says, “You won’t believe what modern education
is developing! They actually have a program here in Missoula
that will teach our dog, Ole’ Blue how to talk!”
“That’s amazing,” his Dad says. “How do I get Ole’ Blue
in that program?”
“Just send him down here with $1,000″ the young cowboy says
“and I’ll get him in the course.”
So, his father sends the dog and $1,000.
About two-thirds of the way through the semester,
the money again runs out. The boy ca lls home.
“So how’s Ole’ Blue doing son?” his father asks.
“Awesome, Dad, he’s talking up a storm,” he says, “but you
just won’t believe this — they’ve had such good results
they have started to teach the animals how to read!”
“Read!?” says his father, “No kidding! How do we get Blue
in that program?”
“Just send $2,500, I’ll get him in the class.”
The money promptly arrives. But our hero has a problem.
At the end of the year, his father will find out the dog
can neither talk, nor read.
So he shoots the dog.
When he arrives home at the end of the year, his father
is all excited.
“Where’s Ole’ Blue? I just can’t wait to see him read
something and talk!”
“Dad,” the boy says, “I have some grim news. Yesterday
morning, just before we left to drive home, Ole’ Blue was
in the living room, kicked back in the recliner, reading
the Wall Street Journal, like he usually does”.
“Then Ole’ Blue turned to me and asked, so, is your daddy
still messing around with that little redhead who lives
down the street?”
The father went white and exclaimed, “I hope you shot
that son of a bitch before he talks to your Mother!”
“I sure did, Dad!”
“That’s my boy!”
The kid went on to law school, and now serves in
Washington D.C. as a Congressman.
I was out four different mornings this week and ran three different dogs separately each morning. We covered about a mile and a half each run in local grouse covers. You could barely squeeze through the wet alder flows. I only found one brood of grouse so far of about 6 birds; still with their mama of course. The rest were singles and my flush per hour average was only 1.5 birds. This is typical of my pre-season covers for the past two years since birds can be hard to find in the thick brush and green foliage. Woodcock were spotty too but they were turning up in early aspen which I could barely get through. Still we had some nice points where I got to flush the bird myself and fire the ol’ blank gun for the dog. During training sessions, I always think of that “shot” as the period at the end of the sentence. The search, the point and the steady to flush being the sterling performance on the dogs part and the gunshot being the completion (or perfect ending.) If I was a better shot, come season opener; I’d say the shot, the release and the call ”dead” would be the reward along with a mouth full of feathers for the dog. I bought some quail this week and carried two in my LCS Birdbag to each run. If we came up empty on wild birds, I toss a quail down and bring the dog back around to get a little action before I put him away. I’m always careful though not to let him catch ‘em and I avoid using e-collars around birds unless you went through a serious e-collar conditioning program. Belly collars work best here with only the lowest levels used. Stiff check cords are best kept on a non-broke dog always when training to give you control on point. Just let them drag a 20 foot tangle free stiff cord and you can step on it as you approach the point and sort of walk up the rope as you lead.