I'm lucky to have a good gun dog and good group of hunting buddies that won't mind working hard to get after them. We take our combined efforts of the past to produced great hunts as the season moves on. As the days grow shorter, the birds become more challenging. Locating their general location becomes an anomaly of "here one day, gone the next."
Dusky/Blue Grouse migrate up in elevation as the calender keeps moving towards the end of the year. The males proceed the females and family groups in this effort. Usually by the 4th week of the season, the males are in the "dark timber" and the remainder of the species are not too far behind. I say "usually" because this year is different. The extreme heat and drought that Colorado is currently experiencing is forcing the birds to stay near a source of water, whether it be berries or a stream and sometimes both.
Water was the key to our success on this past hunt. We all knew that as it hit "too hot to hunt" at 10am at 9,000ft. After getting down from the higher elevation we took a nice long break. Not knowing if this day's hunt was over, I thought that this might be the last grouse hunt of the season. We discussed and decided that if we were to hunt the mid day we would only venture into the dark areas that held a water source. We were assured by a few in our group that these draws held those two components.
As we arrived at desired location, the four of us split up in two groups. We each took a draw up the hill. As we first started out, I didn't know how long this hunt would last. It was wide open and only a few willow patches for shade, but my buddy Adam quickly assured me for the 10th time that the draws held water. After seeing the first spring, my worries diminished as Mia took a quick swim to cool off.
|Adam , Scott and Ben planning the hunt.|
Myself, my nephew, Ben, and Gary, from Silk Line River Horse blog, moved up the the draw on a deliberate slow pace. I was thinking to myself that this what it should be like to hunt the week before October in Colorado. Cool and collective, I thought I wanted this draw to last forever but I also wanted some birds to keep the blood moving.
As I wished for this, I noticed Mia tracking some scent. Her nose hit the ground and I thought just one thought: trust your dog. Right then, Gary shouted that this area was looking good. I agreed and pressed on.
I took this video clip of Mia working up the draw. You can notice her tracking the bird scent as her nose hits the ground. No more than 2 minutes after I put the camera away, all hell broke loose as one of my personal best wing shooting experiences followed.
Fast flying birds and over head shots enlightened my tired body. Gary and I quickly took four birds and we marked a few more for the downhill decent.
Here's Mia retrieving my first bird.
By the time we finally got back to the truck, we collectively took six birds between us from two different draws. Of the six birds, four were mature males.
|Ben, Scott with Elice, Adam with Razor and Mia|
What started out as a hard day's hunt soon heated up to great day in the mountains with great friends and even better dogs.
til next time....