In another thread, tramroad28 brought up an interesting point, one that will vary for everyone. His statement emphasized lesser importance on the gun as an ingredient to "the hunt". However anyone feels about this is of course, personal and unique.
In the name of uniqueness, hunting is such a dynamic event. An event filled with an extensive variety of factors that make hunting different for everyone who participates and tramroad28's comment stimulates thought. With hunting season ever so near, it is a great time to ponder just what makes hunting special.
For me, the overall experience is important. I am not the guy who is unhappy unless I get a limit. I am also not the guy who wants come home empty handed on a regular basis. Let's face it, birds are a part of the equation. They are the glue that eventually brings all of the other components together, even if it takes a lifetime to realize that. Appreciating the merits of each individual species and the nuances both subtle and stark that separate the different birds adds a rich flavor to life.
Chukars diving over rimrock are different than a rooster pheasant clattering up out of the cattails. Prairie hunting is vastly different than pursuing grouse in a tangled forest. What about doves? Oh there are many ways to enjoy that one. Add the diverse experiences of waterfowl hunting then think about snipe. Variety. I believe someone once credited it as the spice of life.
That variety continues into the realm of habitat. A person can hunt in 90 degree weather in either dry or humid climate. I have also watched "steam" emanating from my dog's nostrils in deep subzero temps as he moved in on Hungarian partridge. Unique. There are birds in about every niche. Himalayan snow cock at 11,000' in Nevada all the way down to coastal regions rich with ptarmigan. I hope to see both someday.
The important part is actually being there, wherever "there" is. A sunset along the Continental Divide with a blue grouse in hand is just as satisfying as a sunrise in flooded timber, waiting for a pair of wood ducks to scream into the decoys. Love or hate the wind, time spent on the prairie will include it and sooner or later a hunter will think of the hunt when the grasses begin to wave. A crisp morning when the only sound for miles is the dropping of a tailgate to let the dog out pulls at a man's soul.
So does the dog, if it's a good one. You know the kind. Eager to hunt, reluctant to stop. A companion that seldom cares when you miss and keeps the secret when you do. The canine sleuth utilizing senses that humble all men, following the invisible trail that leads to the adrenaline laced event: the flush! A true buddy.
Then there are the other buddies. Family or friends who share a common interest, a bond indeed. These people make the days memorable. When the years fall like autumn leaves, these are the ones that stay in our thoughts. Cherish them.
And yes the guns. We all have our preferences. Heck, this whole forum is the result of that. Guns are special to use for a number of reasons. Family heirloom? Something you once saw in the hands of another perhaps. Maybe it was one of those "Jukebox Hero" moments when you held it in your hands and somehow just knew...
Anyway, this just scratches the surface of all of those factors that can't be summed up with numbers or absolutes. Add your thoughts at will, it will be a pleasant conversation.
Last edited by WyoChukar on Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:23 pm; edited 2 times in total _________________ Only catch snowflakes on your tongue AFTER the birds fly south for the winter...
Joined: 26 Sep 2015
Location: Fremont County, Wyoming
Good grief, Garhart, don't you have a car to work on or fish to catch?
But...I think you have summed up the upland experience for me in fine fashion. For many years I gave up upland game bird hunting, focusing instead on big game. Now, I still enjoy big game, but I schedule a little time each fall for sage grouse, mountain grouse, and maybe chukars (that mythical bird). Each day is different and unique, and I think that is where the enjoyment begins for me.
Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Location: western pa
Daybreak. Nobody enjoys the first light of day the way hunters do. There is an appreciation of the natural world that never gets the least bit old. The oddball, weird stuff you see when you are afield that the average person will never experience. My personal favorite was the afternoon that a bald eagle grabbed one of my cork mallard decoys, got his talons stuck and had to shake it like crazy to get it off his foot. It now sits in a place of honor since I was the guy that carved the decoy and it fooled the eagle. What was most interesting though was the amount of noise that his wings made when lifting the block from the water, I'll never for get that sound.
_________________ Always get get a drink upstream of the herd-Will Rogers
Good to know I'm not the only one to have a decoy drilled by an eagle! My incident was with a full body goose decoy. Upon impact, the head went into orbit!
Another one of those oddball moments took place years ago in North Dakota. My dog at the time, Katie, was in hot pursuit of a winged rooster when I spooked a jack rabbit. The rabbit and the rooster experienced a high speed head on collision and both shot up in the air. They came back down pretty much on Katie's head and she bolted after the first thing she saw. The rabbit! 5 yards into the chase she realized the mistake and reversed course. The rooster was eventually recovered. I was laughing so hard I almost forgot about the bird. Once again, unique.
_________________ Only catch snowflakes on your tongue AFTER the birds fly south for the winter...
Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Location: Kelso, Tennessee
Only to add to the wonderful list
"Long, as long goes to tired hunters, we sat by the fire"..-from "The Harp that Once". Nash Buckingham
At camp near bedtime, I enjoy reading aloud to the gang some old hunting stories from old days by Evans, Buckingham, Faulkner, and others. Oftentimes I'm interrupted by complete quiet, followed by soft snoring, and figure their dreams are off to a good start.
_________________ i reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.
Thinking is unlikely to be unique to any manner of hunter…ie David Peterson and elk.
Thinking tho is often aided and routinely demanded by the fragility of a resource, the successional aspect of habitat, a wide and deep literary tradition, an often long personal tradition, a lack of burnout for antlers, a limited appeal for barbershops and…being owned by dogs.
The first four probably drive the thought while the last often defines why a birdhunter cares and so, thinks.
Joined: 23 Aug 2009
Location: Southern Ontario
My first 'real grouse hunt.
The day that almost didn’t happen, anatomy of a grouse hunt - December 12th, 2011.
This is my third season grouse hunting. My first season was with Iver and his great dog, learning the ropes. The last two seasons being on my own, more or less.
I've been slightly frustrated as of late, due to the large number of flushes I’ve had (30 plus, over ten or twelve hunts), shots taken (4), and still no bird in the bag. I contemplated not going out to my usual hot spot, but being that I chose to not go on a duck hunt last Saturday, and missed the best day of the year, I kept the car going north towards my favorite covet, as to not make the same mistake twice.
I have used two different guns in the past, my 16ga. Laurona sxs, and my 16ga. M12, and have taken two unsuccessful shots at grouse, with each gun. For this hunt, I decided to bring my 16ga. Zoli, as in hindsight, it had taken my first bird on the wing (with Iver and his mutt), and has proven to have a good POA on my only limb swatting excursion (didn’t know any better). My shell of choice was my roll crimped vintage Win AA CF hulled, #71/2, spreader load.
As I parked my car, the sun was low in the sky. Sunset was at 4:40ish and it was already close to 4:00pm. Not much time for decent hunt I thought. I quickly got geared up and headed off. I remarked to myself that the gun felt light, and good in the hand. I had forgotten how nice this one was to carry.
I started to bushwhack off a trail, and into the ‘zone’.
As time was short, I headed off through my older covet, and straight into my newly found grouse hiding spots. In about ten minutes I had my first flush, unusually close, 10m away (they’re typically 30m flushes), and thunderous, which actually startled me. I saw him exit his cover, fly through a clearing, swing right, back into another stand of trees. The chase was on!
I’ve found that these guys tend to hook around near the end of their flight, or actually end up nearly in the opposite direction I thought they were going, I went left, to the far end of the stand he flew into, and marched in the direction of his last known flight path.
A pause and start, 20 yards in, garnered me a second flush, again from what I considered very close. His second flight sounded long, and he was quickly out of site. I followed his flight path out of the cover and was presented with a wide open area. One option, straight ahead, led to tall mature trees with a thick young stand of evergreens. Maybe a good place to hide? I looked right, and seen another stand of trees about thirty yards away, typical of what he/they flew out of. That’s where I decided to go.
I entered the stand and about fifteen paces in, my bird flushed again. Only this time very low, and only about a twenty yard distance. I seen him land just outside of the stand, and start to walk. I crouched down and was ready to take aim, should he appear to give me a clear shot through the trees. There was no sign of him. As I got up, another grouse flushed, back to my right side. I let him go, and stayed focused on my bird. I figured mine was the one that flew a short distance, as I had tuckered him out. The other flew off with a typical thunderous flap of the wings, and was gone in an instant.
Now what do I do? I have a bird twenty yards away, I’m surrounded by trees, and he’s on the edge with plenty of options. I started to move forward towards my last sighting of him, gun at the ready, then thought, this won’t work to my advantage. So I backed off and exited the stand to creep up along the edge. I seen a couple brush piles he could use to conceal himself in a few meters ahead, and got ready for some excitement, heart pounding of course. I slowly moved forward, and still no sign of him. Dang! I kept moving ahead and seen the end of the stand approaching. Hmmmmm…time to stop and listen…faint clucks and scratching ahead and to the right. There was a small evergreen with a branch hung low to the ground, so I gave it a wide berth, circled in front of it, and stopped. Suddenly, I was startled by the sound and shadow of a grouse bursting from behind it, moving away from me. I shouldered the gun, took aim, and pulled the trigger, without thinking, just like I had done taking my first woodcock earlier this season.
The next sound was that of a bird, in it's last throws of life. I pushed through, and around the tree, and seen my bird ten to fifteen feet ahead. He had taken a head shot, and yet, still telling his wings to do their job. I picked him up, and he quickly stopped fluttering.
So there I was, with my first bird in hand, hunted alone. I smoothed out his feathers, fanned his tail, and savored the moment. I remembered a couple lines from the grouse book (Grouse Hunters Guide) that was lent to me by my grouse mentor – “you feel a surge of elation, then a flicker of sadness…A ruffed grouse has been downed.” “Many grouse hunters…would be glad to toss a fallen grouse back to the sky if it could somehow burst into renewed flight at this moment of freedom.” Both those thoughts crossed my mind. I took a few memorable pics with my phone's camera and headed back to my car, thoroughly elated, and started the long drive home.
The fan is pinned, and being dried. It’s a nice brown/copper color, unlike the other grayish ones I have. It measures 13 1/2” across. I’ll make a shadow box for it, and the Sudbury tail from earlier this year (one Southern and one Northern grouse).
There are a few more birds in there to go after, so I will try to do it all over again, with some expectation of further success, full of ambition, hope, and a little more wisdom.
Thanks to Iver, for all his advice and tips. He has helped me tremendously, to get to where I am now. A couple more hunts like that, and I’ll consider myself a ‘real’ grouse hunter.
Since then...I've become a decent grouse hunter. When I get a 'grouse on'...birds are flushed more often then not.
_________________ 1959 16ga. Antonio Zoli sxs 28"
1949 16ga. Model 12 28"
Joined: 30 Sep 2015
Location: NEW SALISBURY INDIANA
I see the hunt a little different, I don`t hunt game, but I hunt guns, when I make up my mine I want a particular gun, or reloading press, etc, I go on the hunt. gun shows, on line, gun shops, friends, family. The hunt includes condition, price, and features. I have had friends offer help, but that takes away the fun of the hunt. My latest hunt find is a rare Italian steering wheel for a mercedes I am restoring, took me 3 months to find the right one.
_________________ 16ga 3-Win 37
16ga Win 12 1953
16ga Ithaca 37 1946
16ga LeFever Long Range 1937
16ga Western Auto Revelation
16ga Browning A-5 1929
16ga 2-Intrac O/U
16ga Lefever nitro special 1925
16ga Marlin 90 1939
1976. 14 years old. Alone, I walked out of Grand Marais City limits, up a trail that left the CCHS football field, into the endless forest stretching limitlessly northward. My brand new bolt action Mossberg 20 gauge in my hands, I began my bird hunting life with the ruffies of the Superior National Forest.
Life was indescribably perfect.
2016. 54 years old. I and my 9 year old double ACL replacement, wiry faced, stub tailed, seasoned bird and bird country savvy brown sweetheart were high in Montana's Gravellies chasing blue grouse in the beetle killed white bark pines. The birds have gotten increasingly less abundant there because of the beetle kill, but her and I have hunted there for 8 years - it's hard to not return.
As I watch her ranging a bit too far in along a ridge rimmed with still healthy pines, I think..... better call her in, lotsa' lions in this country - I like to keep her a little closer up here. But, crazy as this sounds to many, if she met her end to a big old tom while chasing blues up here - the pain would be unbearable, yet it would be an honorable end for a girl who's led a life like hers.... These are the thought you have up here while hunting these birds.
Life was indescribably perfect.
2017. My young but eager and promising Josie girl and I, along with a Citori Feather 16, will be rooting roosters out of big coulee country - the stuff that takes a single guy and a single dog a whole day to cover. The stuff that takes a whole day to maybe limit out, as the birds get out way ahead and take yet more with them as they blast over their heads. The country that makes ya sweat and curse and be glad when you get back to camp. A couple birds in the WingWorks, a tired dog , and a stunning Montana prairie October sunset..... The 16 perched up against the front tire of the pickup waiting to go yet again tomorrow.
Life will be indescribably perfect.
I like these kind of discussions - bird country, bird dogs, bird guns.... I'm kind of a loner, but yeah, bird hunters.................
I just got done typing this and my old girl came in looked at me and laid down by my side. She wants to make sure I mentioned that she'll be back out there, too, in September. I don't know if any force on earth exists that could keep her from the smell of the shotgun or a little bunch of Huns hunkered in the snowberry, the seat of the pickup, nor the unspoken and quietly understood bond we are lucky enough to share.
Without the dogs there is no need for the gun, without the gun I wouldn't have want for the dogs.
Without the bird country - especially the public - I would have no need for any of it.
We're lucky here in America. Hope we don't piss it all away.................
Last edited by mtbirder on Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:03 pm; edited 2 times in total
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