Yesterday "being there" finally worked.
It is more a puzzle with ptarmigan. They flock and fly much further than grouse. We've all seen flocks of ptarmigan sweep over the landscape. Sometimes they nearly return. Or they fly clean out of sight. Sometimes they don't come back there the rest of the season.
Certain locations seem prone to ptarmigan and that is where we hunted. It was a ptarmigan prone but not (apparently) ptarget rich location for many other days. In fact, during the previous 6 trips we saw all told maybe 6 in that location?
On our way out of "high-country" we saw some rise, fly low and stay local. If they had not flown we would never have known they were there. My eyes welcomed the sight. My friend can drive in reverse same as forward and soon we were well away, parked and gearing up to get beyond the flock and work the dogs above and across their scent.
At the very last I strapped on my Tubbs and baled off the road and up the bank. My friend stayed "boots only". He and many caribou tracks often hardly dented the snow. Other spots it was punchy. Now we knew why no tracks in this reach were seen. Actually, in over 100 miles of road travelled we saw only one set of game bird tracks. ("Hungry I tell ya!")
The experienced dogs working as a pair and alone began to sort the scent scene. My little Gal? Kind of. She winded the flock and stopped, a point I hoped. As much a pup as she at times, I'm not sure what the heck she's doing or what she should do. Often when I think I know, I've misunderstood. We parallelled the road, tacking into the breeze.
Chasing those birds, whoaing Gal (too much), chasing the birds, releasing, whoaing....Gal and I pursued on. Whoaed and behind me, Gal held. The closest bird finally flew and then all. I shot, Gal charged, I whoaed her, she stopped. At release she rushed and I walked in on our bird.
We need lots more birds, Gal and I. I've got lots more work to do, but we had a really nice day.
In this case, I think the Tubbs were the ticket.