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What a day!

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  • What a day!

    First off I would like to start by saying that I was really excited about today until I read that post by Burke about 1st hunt/early season. That made me feel a tad guilty but here is the story.

    Many years ago in Utah, at the young age of 15 I had just finished taking a hunter's safety course and my step dad took my stepbrother and I out for a "sunday drive" grouse hunt. He was a road hunter for birds (liked his beer). As we rounded a corner about 3/4 the way through our drive in the woods, I spot a fat sage grouse. My stepbrother and I were in the bed of the truck. I tap on the glass, he stops and I do exactly what I had just been taught NOT to do in the safety course. I stand up in the bed of the truck and shoot that grouse with a borrowed .410 while he is still on the ground. My first game kill ever. I was happy yet ashamed cuz I knew it shouldn't have gone down that way. Never shot another grouse in Utah.

    Fast forward 22 years. I am now a father of 5, 36 years old and I am eager to get back into birds again. I get my first "owned" shotgun last Christmas. A Benelli Nova 12 ga. I buy a book about upland birds by a certain author who you might see here on occasion (Hiya Jim!). Read it cover to cover and get super excited. But being as it was January I had to wait til this fall for grouse. I did go for ptarmies in Jan/feb 3 times but never got one, only saw 2 and they were not reachable.

    So I was really waiting for the season. I didnt go season opener but a few friends went out and didn't see any birds. Aug 19th was my b-day and I decided I wanted to celebrate it this weekend with a trip to the woods with my Benelli. I get up this morning and head out where I had seen a ruffie this last spring. I don the gamebird vest, load my #6's and head out solo. I have a dog but she's a malamute, not really the bird dog type so she stays home. About 1 1/2 miles in I hear a fluttering a feathers and quickly turn to the left to see a sprucie bursting up from the ground up to the left and away... I bring up the barrel and boom... miss. Boom... bird falls. My heart is a racing and I wanna jump up n down. My first grouse the right way! I pick up the sprucie and admire it for probably 5 minutes, lol. I gently place it in my pouch and head on down the trail. I walk another mile and a half and I am thinkin... this is just a gorgeous day, so quiet and peaceful, just as I hear multiple flutters. I throw the barrel up and catch another spruce first shot, boom, I glance a little further to the right and see a 2nd and boom. The other 2-3 fly off up into the trees. I see the feathers floating to the ground and I look up and thank the big guy. What a day this is, three grouse to hand. I walk a bit farther another 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile and it starts to get boggy so I flip around and work my way back. I come back to the spot that I saw the group and I tighten up my grip just as I come around to the right I see another spruce sitting there in the middle of the trail. It looks right at me as I bring up my barrel. I wait... he's looking at me but not moving. He's prob 30 yards in front of me just sitting there. I wait about 30 seconds, tho it felt like 5 minutes. Neither of us is budging. I want him to fly but being totally new at this I froze, with thick trees on both sides of the trail I decide if he's not gonna fly I will just take him on the ground. I again feel a little ashamed as I know I should have probably just taken a few more steps forward and he would have flown. I just didn't want him to run into the woods and flush in there where I didn't have a shot. Anyway, I take him, admire him, and place him in the vest. 4 birds on the day. I unloaded the Nova and hung it over the shoulder and walked 3 1/2 miles back to the truck.

    I learned a few things on this first grouse hunt as an adult.

    #1 I "CAN" hit a bird in the air....what a rush.
    #2 I need new boots. My feet were killing me after the roughly 8 miles I walked today.
    #3 From now on I will not be firing if its not in the air. I feel alot more sportsmanlike and alot less guilty when I do.
    #4 After reading Burke's post and the several replies, I should wait til September and let the groups separate to offer a better chance to the birds.

    Hopefully I don't get too torn apart by the readers for taking one on the ground but I wanted to tell the whole story. It was still one of the best days of my hunting life.
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  • #2
    I am not one to throw stones I have killed the vast majority of mine with a .177 cal pellet to the head! That is followed closely by the 22 rimfire then 17hmr. then .223 so I have bushwhacked my share and then some!! I got a dog this year and picked up a shotgun a couple years ago for rabbits. I am looking forward to putting the gun and dog together to try my hand at wing shooting. Sounds like you had a simply great trip!!


    • #3
      Way to go,,sounds you had a great day. Im waiting till a lil later in the season tho,havent even seen one while out fishing. As for head shots,thats all me and my son do, head shot or not at all. If we miss ,which is rare,,hehehe,,theyll be others. Even rabbits , we have the same rule,head shots or no shot. Plus it makes for less waste, I feel, and does take some patience. I used to use shotguns for both but for me it was a mess...O well,,to each there own..Good luck on your next trip.


      • #4
        Welcome back to the upland fields

        I would say your hunt helped progress you through some of the natural development of a sportsmen. Initially, you get all charged up in the pursuit of the game and it seems to be the worst thing ever to let an easy shot pass. figured it out in the end, some never do. I know for me, hunting upland birds is in no way about filling a freezer (the cost-benefit analysis will prove this to be a fool's errand); that helps to take the charge out of my system and keep things in perspective. And another motivator for me is that you don't get that satisfying puff a feathers drifting through the air when you take one on the ground.



        • #5
          Welcome back to the bird woods and good shooting. I know what you mean with waiting for them to flush. I have to throw things at them or make a lot of ruccus sometimes to get em up and flying. I dont think anyone should tear you up for taking the one bird on the ground, its not against the law and it is a subject for each person to interpret. Ive found especially when we hunt ptarmigan in large flocks that it is good to have one guy with a .22 and the other with a shotgun. The guy with the .22 shoots the furthest one out and begins the flush.


          • #6
            Congratulations, Wolfie! You have made some great choices and been rewarded. Bird hunting is a blast, and just wait till you shoot flying over a good bird dog!

            I've held off so far this season, but I leave in the morning for the sharp-tailed grouse opener and will hunt hard for four or five days over two of my Brittanys.

            I see a bird dog and maybe a fine double gun in your future, Wolf0994!

            Enjoy every minute of the journey.



            • #7
              Glad to hear you got out about and had fun...It is a nice start and as Jim says, the joy is ten fold with a dog. Maybe someday you too will stand in awe of your first pup and his/her first bird.
              Not only that, I bet your children will be joining you soon and you will share that same exciting feeling with them.
              No judgment here.


              • #8
                Grouse hunting is one of my favorite hunts! I got my first bird with my longbow this evening. We flushed the birds then were able to locate them HIGH up in the tops of some nearby birch trees. The one I was able to take was about 15 yds straight up. I had a buddy with me helping spot so I took the shot. I managed to hit the bird solidly and it fell straight down, the arrow bounced around in the tree a bit then fell and stuck in the ground about 3' from the bird! As it turns out, I got the bird with a head shot which was really exciting (lucky, I know...). My bow was a home made long bow and I was using self made arrows as well. We were actually out for a spur of the moment drive looking for moose but the grouse were a bonus.

                Congrats on your hunt and I hope you have many more successful runs as well!

                The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


                • #9
                  Rob, thats sweet! What kind of tips?
                  The Alaska Life

                  ~Spero Meliora~


                  • #10
                    Nothing wrong with shooting one on the ground, although they are fun out on the wing. My only concern is to not spoil any meat and enjoying them on the table including the heart and gizzard. Glad you had a great day!


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