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Thread: 1st Hunt / Early Season Question

  1. #1
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default 1st Hunt / Early Season Question

    I couldn't resist getting the dogs out this weekend even though I had a good idea what the results might be. I took the 28 ga and went in search of coveys we left behind last spring. It was warm and sunny (for a change) and very humid.
    We found two family groups of Spruce Grouse on the way to Ptarmigan Country, one group of Ptarmigan and another family of Spruce Grouse on the way down. We had multiple points on the singles after the initial point and flush. It was good for the dogs to get some pointing in. I resisted the temptation to shoot until the third family of Spruce Grouse.

    This leads me to my question(s)..
    1. How many of you shoot birds at this time of year? I usually wait until September to shoot birds. They young birds are small and immature. They don't fly well and don't have much meat. As Jim McCann said in another post, it would be very easy to shoot up the whole family at this time of year. I am not judging folks, just curious.
    2. Are the young birds able to survive on their own if you shot the mature parent birds? It seems to me that if they are still with the parents and that immature, they might struggle without mom around.
    (maybe I need to re-read some books like Jim McCann's Upland Hunting to answer that one)

    Another thing I thought about after the hunt, was the age old adage that you need to shoot a bird to reward the dog for doing it's job. Even though I fell into the trap and shot a young bird.... IMHO I do not think it is true. Dogs work to please us and you can give them all the praise they need for pointing and standing steady to flush.

    Any thoughts???

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    Burke,

    Glad you boys got out for some hunting and found some birds! I typically use the first part of the season as training for my dogs as well as for the birds, trying to get those young birds to fly at my approach and not tolerate my presence. I'm very persnickety and like everything to be just right, like the smell of autumn wine, the yellow leaves, the crisp cool air, all that sort of stuff, and the early part of the season offers me none of that. I turn up the heat when I begin hunting sharptails on the 25th of August, and I let a lot of those birds fly off as well. Come mid-September I'm in my frenzy mode, right up until Old Man Winter has slammed the door shut on me for awhile. It's then I'll concentrate on ptarmigan and leave the grouse alone until next year.

    I'm of the mind that it's us who want to shoot a bird and just make the excuse that it's for the dog's sake. I used to shoot a lot of pigeons during training and I've quit doing that. I might have shot a couple of pigeons last summer, and none this year. My dogs like the finding part more than anything, and if I don't have to mess with a gun during training it's all the better so I can concentrate on the dog(s).

    Another hunter's mielage may vary!

    Jim
    P.S. Way too hot around the interior to get out in the grouse woods. Hard on the dogs and the old guy carrying the gun. I may hit the high country one day this coming week to move some ptarmigan around as well.

  3. #3
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default pics

    8-15-2010 First Hunt of Season (4).jpg8-15-2010 First Hunt of Season (3).jpg

    I forgot to carry a camera...but took a couple when I got back to the truck...I could have had a couple pictures of points. It was kinda thick with foliage so not that many good opportunities anyway
    Last edited by Burke; 08-15-2010 at 19:57. Reason: not so good at new picture loading???

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    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    Okay, so maybe the setting isn't quite right and the leaves aren't turning and there isn't a crispness to the air...but sometimes when you're stomping around the woods and a bird just happens to flush just right in that straight away and up and to the left manner ... its really, really hard to not let that barrel swing through the shot. I'm guilty as charged, while doglessly exploring some territory around Ninilchik Thursday night. I really didn't expect much but I was pleasantly surprised by a perfect flush with a beautifully open shooting lane.

    Burke, as far as your question about shooting up the entire family...I don't shoot more than a couple on any outing regardless of the time of year, location or quarry. I feel like the areas I hunt are pretty heavily pressured and I like to limit my damage. The sprucie that I mentioned above was by no meens immature or inexperienced, but I imagine that would be the exception rather than the rule.

    As for your second question, don't the family broods break up around this time anyway?

    And for the "reward" issue, I don't think I've ever seen any animosity from Gauge when I haven't provided a bird (maybe a little annoyance, but that is usually short lived). He's usually just grinning ear to ear happy to be in the field.

    Your pictures inspire me to take more pictures of my hunts but I have shotgun envy and feel like my old 870 just wouldn't create the same dignified image. But alas, I'll never be a double barrel guy. Is it wrong that my dream shotgun is the 60 year old Winchester Model 12 (a 16 ga no less) I grew up with? Thank the good lord for my inexpensive tastes.

    Tyler

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    Good shooting, Tyler! And a Model 12 in 16ga. is a very sweet gun. It's been said that I have a penchant for 16s!

    And broods will generally begin what is called the "fall shuffle" in September, usually from around the 15th on into October.

    Hope you and Mr. Gauge have a fine upland season.

    Jim

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    I carry a 1956 model 37 Ithaca 16. Love the thing. I've looked at many doubles, but just can't sit my 37 down.

  7. #7
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    I tend to hunt for grouse around mid September. About when that tanginess hangs in the air from the berries. If I can I like to shoot the ones without the big red brows. The Younger birds are way better with a lighter meat on them. I usually quit shooting once 3 birds are bagged. I like my grouse fresh. And 3 is plenty for a meal at my house.

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    Member kylemac's Avatar
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    Nice pics, Burke -- very motivating. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default Tmckee

    Young Willy with Ruffed Grouse and Roosters.jpgBaloo 1996.jpg
    No worries, I still pull out the 870 that grandpa gave 35 years ago...actually it is all I use for waterfowl hunting with the Chesapeake

    I dont have too many digital pics of my waterfowl hunts but Case in point .... see pictures

  10. #10
    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    Awesome pics Burke...that weim is absolutely stoic. I'm going out this weekend, if for nothing else to give Gauge a little modeling session.

  11. #11
    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    870's are great guns! Model 12's are not that "cheap" anymore! I like pumps. Like I said I shot a Ithaca model 37 (50+ yrs old).

  12. #12
    Member AKtrpr's Avatar
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    I can understand the "purist part of grouse hunting" and nice crisp fall day and all..... to each their own. But when you have 15 ruffs run across the road in front of you and a family to feed you put meat on the table....All in all I took 5 of the fifteen today after running them thru the berry patches, all but one was an immature bird.... but like I said I have hungry little ones to feed and limited food dollars so I make the most of opportunities when given them..I did leave 2/3rds of the group so I what I can to appease all aspects. good hunting to all

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