I stopped hunting grouse in Inman Creek a few years ago because they drove sheep through the area, and that chased out all the birds. That didn’t seem to be the case a couple of weeks ago when Doc found a number of Ruffed Grouse, so I took him back for another try.
The road above the trail head seems to be used mostly by 4-wheelers and hunters these days, and one had already claimed the spot I wanted to hunt. I drove up to another location and we hadn’t hunted for long before I heard a bell clanging somewhere on the hillside and getting louder.
A band of sheep were being driven towards us, so I turned around and hightailed it back to the truck. The last thing I wanted was for a bunch of sheep dogs to consider Doc a threat and go after him.
I drove to another location where I’d been told there were Blue Grouse and hunted a canyon where the trees opened onto a creek and sage covered hillsides. By now, the grouse would have gotten their morning water and returned to cover, so we hunted our way up a draw that led from the creek into the trees.
Doc went on a nice point, and I moved in, flushing a pair of Ruffies. Unlike my first bird hunt of the year, my aim was on and I dropped a bird at the foot of a pine tree. Doc did a nice job of finding and retrieving it, although we could still brush up on his retrieving.
We continued on and Doc went birdy. I saw the grouse running through the brush before flushing but was unable to take a shot. Not long after that, Doc went birdy and began working the brush, then went on a nice point. I was unable to flush a bird, so I gave him the “track” command and moved into a small clearing, and waited for him to track the grouse.
Unfortunately, the grouse wasn’t cooperating and flushed through the trees, not allowing me to get a shot. We searched for it, but it must have flown up into one of the pine trees. We continued hunting down the canyon before turning around and hunting our way back to the truck. Doc did a great job and I was hitting my shots, but more importantly, I found a new place to hunt.