After proving to myself that I hadn’t been bragging for no reason, I invited another shooter. Brian is a lifelong hunter (one of the best deer hunters you’ll ever meet) but has always loved grouse hunting. We try to go a couple of times a year up to this point dogless. We’ve been excitedly talking about how this year would be different for the last…oh 8 months or so. After finding out about preserve hunting Brian was all in. “You mean for $40 we can shoot at 12 birds in ONE day?” he asked me. “I’m in.” And that was that. The morning proved to be almost a carbon copy of the previous week, and the dog work turned out to be even better. I shot the first bird followed by about 6 more by Brian. All were staunchly pointed and found by the dog after the shot. One cripple even retreived to and dropped at my feet.
Above is one of Gus’ classic points. The bird was about 15′ in front of him. I relocated him with a tap on the head when I couldn’t flush and he moved in to a yard or so away and stood on point again.
On one notible moment, we moved in on a point and flushed the bird. Both of us fired and one shot clearly hit the bird. He sailed off into the hedgerow on the other side of a creek. We marked where the bird went down. It was REALLY thick with grape vines and blackberry thickets overhanging a barbed wire fence line. I climbed in on my hands and knees and kept Brian and the dog in the field waiting to take a shot. After a few minutes it was clear the bird wasn’t flushing. Brian and the dog came in the dog following my path and me still on my hands and knees. We were about to give up when Gus crawling on his belly, shot his tail straight up and locked up. It was a funny looking point, but it go the job done. He stayed while I climbed over him “Great” I said…there was a groundhog hole in the middle of everything and Gus was looking right at it. I reached my hand down to see if the bird was dead in the hole and up he popped, scrambling over my outstretched arm, shoulder and launched off my head. He was aparently not at all wounded. He took to flight and dodged another shot as he crossed the field and landed in a hedgerow on the opposite side. This time the cover was easily twice as thick and impassible to either man or dog. We stomped around the edges for several minutes while trying to coax the dog into the more sparsely covered portions. Each time he went in only to return within seconds and go back to a mowed portion of the path spinning circles. At least twice I grabbed his collar and pulled him along into the hedge with me again only to have him return. The last time I came out of the brush with thorns tearing my arms to shreds only to find the dog on point. “probably smells a feather or something the bird lost when he landed” I muttered. As I grabbed the dog by the collar again I saw a quick movement….There it was! At my feet, in cover no more than 3″ high was the wounded bird and Gus standing over him as if to say “NOT AGAIN BUDDY”. I looked at Brian and saind “Next time we trust the dog!” The day ended with all birds found and pointed, 8 in the bag and two shot and lost in trees.
Another great point
The day’s end
Tired and happy