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A Winter Grouse Hunt
Posted on 12/14/2007 in Notes From The Field.

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A Winter Grouse Hunt
Todd Kellam

A short story about my two bird hunting protege's, Owen and Mort, and one princess named Tess.

We left in a snow storm on a late December Thursday to go up north and bird hunt for a couple days knowing full well that it wouldn't be good pointing dog conditions. But we felt sorry for the dogs as they hadn't been to the cabin in more than a month and it was a good excuse to go up and build a fire and drink beer and forget about Christmas shopping. We arrived to about 14" of fresh snow. A couple romps through cover that we assumed would hold birds proved unproductive except for running a few much needed pounds off the princess. Then quite by accident (that means driving around in the truck looking for tracks) we found some birds. So the greenhorns, Owen and Mort go one direction and the vets, the princess and myself go another. I heard the rookies shoot twice over about a half hour period. When the princess and I made a loop that brought us back out to the main road, she laid down in the road and went to work chewing ice balls out of her feet. Well, because she is the princess that she is, I started the truck up and let her sit in the front passenger seat so she could defrost. When we first got in, we had so much snow on everything it looked like a blizzard went through the inside of the Toyota. So we sat there and reminisced about what a great season it had been and how our bird doggin’ travels had taken us from as far north and east as the Quebec border to western Iowa. I don't know if it was because we got too warm or were feeling too guilty but we got out of the truck to continue our hunt just as Mort and Owen were coming up the road. They had a bird that Mort pointed and Owen shot, a sequence that did not play out more than a few times all season, usually the fault of the one toting the gun. Snow pointed grouse are bird hunting’s ultimate challenge. They were obviously very proud but no prouder than I was having started them both. And even though I lost a pretty special young dog that year, I wouldn't have traded it for nothing. Each day spent is one you won't get back so you have to look ahead......and don't spend too much time sittin' in the truck !!!!!

Here’s to good dogs!