This was my best ptarmigan season since I moved here and started hunting ptarmigan 5 years ago. We (my dogs and I) had many awesome hours in the field and came home with a few birds and only minor injuries, mostly my sore ankles, bruised ego over missed shots and tired muscles. It wasn't so great for grouse though. Understandable because I didn't hunt them as hard. I love being in the country where Ptarmigan live!
The season started with a bit of sadness though. One of my best hunting buddies for the past twelve years, Buck my Weimaraner had died last winter. However, the season was pleasantly interrupted with the adoption of Ember the Griffon. Ember and I have some work to do this summer, but I look forward and enjoy that as much as hunting...well honestly maybe not quite as much. Pretty close though.
The final Hunt began with a phone call as I was leaving the house. My friend couldn't make it because he sprained his ankle. I think it was just the sleet and clouds that scared him away. Oh well. I got to the trail head and realized I had forgotten the shotgun! The phone call distracted me...never forgot anything before (yeah right). Did I want to go without it...Naw, last day gotta get the gun. There will be enough days in this summer without the gun. When I got back home so early, my wife met me at the door with the "Honey Do" list and a smile. "does this mean you are staying home today?" Nope, grabbed the gun and left before I got the dirty look )
I was pooped from Saturday's hike and the fact that I hadn't been out for two weeks before that. So I took the tortoise route up, slow and steady. As soon as I topped the last pitch to crest treeline into ptarmigan country (dogs well ahead of me) I was ready for a drink and snack break. The dogs would have nothing of it. Pie was casting out in front and Ember was sneaking around to my left and I could hear ptarmigan out in front of both dogs. No rest for the wicked, I quickly put the snowshoes on, loaded the gun and located the birds. Thank goodness the snow conditions were way better than Saturday (completely different area). I was able to get into position before the birds ran off. We still lost a few to their quick legs but I managed to get some into the air.
After a few hours of excitement I had to stop the dogs and grab a snack. I was soaked from inside (perspiration) and outside (wet snow), and I was now very pooped. It had been a great day so far, both dogs had multiple finds and we had a few birds in the bag. It was later than I had planned, due to leaving the gun at home, so I made that decision that no one wants to make, I called it a day. Both dogs were disappointed. What made it worse was we could hear ptarmigan laughing/taunting us from three sides. It was cool to know that it hadn't taken Ember long to figure out what makes that sound! I knew if we went for one more it could turn into a very long day. One more often turns into two more, which turns into...you get the picture. I don't mind long days, but I also have learned calling it quits is not the end of the world, besides those birds would be seed for next year.
Unfortunately the weather was not great for pictures, we were in the clouds and snow. I did get a couple to share.
Thanks for sharing your pictures this season and thanks for listening/reading my babble.