The Last Hunt of the Season
Photographer: Joel Schnell

With a light snowfall coming down, it was a good day for my Brittany Maggie and I to sneak in a hunt before the season closes at the end of the month. This floodplain of the St. Croix river doesn’t match the usual young forest habitat of the ruffed grouse. With lots of old standing dead timber and deadfalls, this cover offers birds two things: a favorite food (dogwood berries) and protection from hawks and owls that prey on them. Few others venture far from the parking area, for you had better be fluent with compass or gps. It is rough country, with tall grass swamps breaking up the upland areas, and the sparse trails are mostly used by whitetail deer. Ruffed grouse have two color variations, red fan on this bird, or gray as displayed on this earlier season bird. Soon Maggie’s orange vest will be put away for another season, and she will only point birds in her dreams until the leaves turn again next fall.

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