I normally give up grouse hunting for Pheasant hunting, but on Saturday decided to take Doc to my favorite location for Ruffed grouse. The birds seemed to have moved to higher ground, either in preparation for the winter or pressure from hunting.
We hunted a little stream that led to up an old forest road, where we flushed a Ruffed grouse that was downwind of us. I wasn’t able to get a shot but marked the direction it flew. Rather than climbing through the thick brush after it, I followed the forest road for about ¼ mile and then cut back across the hillside.
Soon after we began across the hillside, we came upon another grouse, again downwind from us. The wind was fickle all day, blowing up and then down the canyons. In any case, I dusted the bird and Doc had a blind retrieve to make.
From the way Doc acted, the bird must have been living in the little clearing for some time because its scent was everywhere. I also realized that I need to start focusing our training sessions on casting and blind retrieves, as both Doc and Mia have trouble with them. Having owned Labs all my life, I’ve never spent much time on their retrieving since it’s been easy to teach the basics without effort, but now it’s time to work on it.
Although I was able to cast Doc towards the bird as we’d practiced, he couldn’t keep the line that I gave him long enough to bring him to the bird. Eventually he was able to find it and make a nice retrieve.
We then made our way to where the first grouse had disappeared but Doc wasn’t able to get a scent, so we continued on. We hunted our way up main stream for about an hour, crawling through brush and over deadfall, but didn’t see a sign of any more birds.
Although it was early afternoon when we returned to the truck, the low sun and crisp cool air made it feel more like early morning. The perfect day for a Fall hunt.