It all begins tomorrow, the glorious 3 months of ruffed grouse hunting in Minnesota. It’s what the dogs and I have been waiting for, and training for. We have a front row seat to the amazing drama of seasons changing before our eyes. My dogs know the visceral feel of the hunt, that we must harvest what nature provides.
Dogs Prepped and Ready to Go
It wasn’t among their favorite days. Levi and Maggie got their nails trimmed to prevent nail splits last week, and a haircut to prevent burr tangles. The vet has them up on the vaccinations and a clean bill of health. A couple fresh tick collars are in place. The e-collar charged, the first aid kit replenished, and we are ready to go. For Levi, training with pigeons this summer brings new and exciting experiences. For Maggie, the old salt, it’s another year of the rodeo that she knows so well. Mags will be the back-up, due to failing hearing. She won’t like it. And her leg strength just isn’t there anymore, though the will is.
Human Prep Too
For this human, owner of the canine team, it’s all too familiar. I finished my clay target league last week with a tie-breaking round for league champs. I have a replacement copy of my dog-eared Delorme Atlas. I need to renew my OnX Maps Hunt subscription yet, and pack up for the opener tomorrow. My dog ‘n hunt gear box stays equipped all year long, so just load it in the Jeep and we are all set.
Thoughts for this Year
We’ve got a decent amount of moisture on the ground this fall, which is good for dog work. It will keep the bird scent on the ground, and keep the birds from finding refuge in the alder swamps away from the heat. The dogs won’t have to struggle so much to breath, and fresh water will be plentiful. As always, it will be sweaty and buggy out there, with limited visibility through the green curtain. Our DNR grouse counts are up 18%, about normal for the climb out of the bottom of the 10 year population cycle.
I can almost taste it. The sweet smell of decaying leaves. A distant honk from a flying V of Canadian geese. The jingle of the dog bell. A wisp of gun smoke at the break open of the double gun. That brisk chill just after sunset. And that first grouse tailfeather, plucked and slid into the visor of my Jeep.
By Joel Schnell
Posted September 16, 2016.
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com