Last week (March 31) was the finale of the 2010-2011 grouse/ptarmigan season near our home in Wasilla, Alaska. The lack of experience, short days, and cold weather had kept me from being out earlier in the year. I always get really anxious towards the end of a hunting season and make it a priority to make a final attempt, for the dog of course. Gypsy is an almost 3 year old german shorthair/chocolate lab mix.
It was an awesome day with temperatures in the low-mid 40's. The sun was out in places as a fog enveloped the some of the peaks at Hatcher's Pass. My two-legged friend and I decided to just take a trail to "see what we could see." The dog hadn't been hunted and she minded ok but not as well as I would have liked but we didn't expect to see birds so we hiked. About 4 miles I heard kok-kok to our right in a ribbon of bush adjacent to the snowmachine trail. "THERE'S ONE!" "Where... oh I (boom) see it." First ptarmigan seen in winter plumage, first ptarmigan ever bagged. "I think you missed," as a second bird flies left to right. (Boom) double on my two ptarmigan.
My friend got to shoot two separate singles on the hike back. Another opportunity was spoiled by a winter-tired bicyclist but that's one of the hazards of local spots open to multi-use recreation.
Great day, I should quit hunting, it doesn't get more perfect than that. The dog got back into bird mode at the first shot and retrieved beautifully. She has been resting ever since. Haha.