North Woods Grouse - Both Barrels & a Bear Slider

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
15,369
Location
Cedar, MI
(Photos in OP by @wllm1313 & myself) This is the first installment. Others from the troupe will add their stories and photos as well.

A few months ago, @VikingsGuy & I were talking about grouse hunting in the great north woods. As with most things hunt Talk, that discussion turned into making some plans. We put the call out to a few folks on the board and soon enough, we had a gang of 7 ready to travel from as far west as Utah and Montana and as far east as Massachusetts.

The drive from my place to Beaver Bay is about 12 hours. My companion has curtailed the drool in the vehicle, but the excitement of a bird dog who saw the guns loaded up, and hasn’t been on birds for a year, cannot be contained. We settled the issue of whining, drooling & frenetically killing the dog blanket by asking a simple question: Would you rather be in the kennel in the back of the truck, or in the front seat? After some contemplation, she decided on the front seat. We stopped at little piece of public land on the north shore of lake Michigan and took the gun for a short walk in order to keep crazy at bay. No birds, but a little black bear scurried by, with the dog unaware. Back in the truck, and on our way north.

S6m0PrtdORI6GTsYhuVJwr_cBsejAKVriSPCmX6rCkN4FDjdbEt9b_bMYx6djP47q1FEC0BTd39NVNws99RRqPrjVUc_VQFi6-XbpMArRNIFNReG4QAOgpUehPKGcdNr3cnjIXf9=s0


Around Munising, we stopped to let off some more steam, and to forget the pasties I promised as my contribution to the table fare.

NOjctCNTkBNiS2qPGhFqndxkktsxbKNUn78EJxToBb8_nvo5D7Gf1uSJYvJ2jVvc8qpDzSLHJ54OeHu1aM9gkLyvAgWpatT3NWoaRDW2Tw_S2_cwTPXv-WlCWz-Lf0Y3KMIUICU0=s0


So 7 of us converged on a little cabin in the woods, north of Duluth, south of Canada, firmly in public lands and grouse country. 7 people who had never met face-to-face, taking a chance that nobody was going to be wildly weird enough to make a long weekend in the woods uncomfortable. It was a crap shoot, to be sure but fortune favors the bold. @Hunting Wife (along with Hunting Husband), @wllm1313 , @BrentD , @VikingsGuy , @Wildabeast and myself all showed up to the place we’d call home over the next few days:

Dm-Abrct690N4--76FujtDM0Qi9wdmXrGCRzr0Tbt7MsMYMM0Bi84YTZYoP5G4p8gunyEKaYZ6lA7oUhLbreNwLmdw7vIK1QA7kaMgqAQngaTRW_Ais5OWfvzdZMp6Uf-KUzJUPL=s0


I was the last one to land. There was much rejoicing. I was greeted with the song of my people (that’s really just labs barking incessantly while you try to get out of the truck before your dog overruns you). A quick round of introductions, and I was handed a plate of pulled bear that had been made into Korean bbq sliders.

The food was tremendous. The dogs were establishing the pecking order with bared teeth & growls, which ultimately settled down to mean-spirited side-eyes & the occasional yelp of a pup who got too close to a bitch of a dog.

That’s when we all figured out that nobody had actually met each other face-to-face yet. Just through the witty repartee on HT did we know each other. The overall consensus is that everyone was pretty close to their online personas, with a few certain exceptions.

sFYYED34V9Bnmtgy62tIfv3TKQMa0VTAaPsa9SlSRnmyWx13oJX_ezQbP5FEfm1nQBn5vm-WcQvaDAZoFrCiFfZrkcsTdQNUow56irOSo7mJAWIaQbVhdmsBdYXOcCmWvw5weix-=s0


As we chatted the first evening away, the guns came out and a long running conversation about how to choose the appropriate snooty double barrel bird buster ensued, with Brent leading the master class, as he would all weekend.

As the clock hit midnight, we broke up, off to bed with some folks electing to camp while the rest of us were not silly enough to refuse a soft bed in the cabin. This group, remarkable in many aspects, had one truly incredible trait (especially for men of a certain age) - nobody really snored loudly. It's the small things that really make a trip.

The next morning, we were up & running with the hounds. A quick breakfast and an exchange of plans led folks to team up and hit the trails. Will and I teamed up for the day, hitting a logging road close by, and going for a short little bushwhack. We passed the opportunity to ground sluice a bird on the road. Little did we know, that was the only bird we’d see in the flesh that morning. After hitting what looked like a lovely little meadow on the GPS (it wasn’t. It was an old cut that was a jungle with old stands being eaten by the vegetation and trails petering out as fast as they started. I was reminded of Chef from Apocalypse Now, as we trudged back to the main road - “Never get out of the F’in boat.”

hCkqGOkgpNpfTwsx67ASUyBm3FhiYDAvkQVzTB7hIsF3OH89_7clOe74w8qOyb5nOsuYGQJVkmmhfMHFvbVP09ZX6x3uSm9ZicXlqwl94xnlHRD-8SKoW0Q0xkRxS41IU0cLJTTA=s0


The dog thought us trite, as she bounded around as if she’d snorted an 8 ball of Griselda Blanco’s finest powder. After a 4-5 mile slog through the understory, we headed back to camp for lunch, and to regroup for the afternoon.

Will found a spot for us to try next, so we headed out. Feathers in the parking lot, a good sign. We loaded up the guns and headed down the trail.

WoxhV1_6uBQpLhkszMgaY9v1Y003Sje8Jja9uKbjpS4SjKKmIAd77Gco9SSecfkntFLGxboJ-m4XhlOc128VDOQl5lHjSdegcxr5sPhEd7bRENJFC4z5l-1_HmFTlvzqjvcua6a8=s0


Since Will hadn’t traveled with a shotgun, I had graciously allowed him to carry one of mine. He chose the O/U Griefelt. There was one condition: No ground pounding. Any bird had to be on the wing. After a couple of miles, I heard the gun go off, and a bird head towards the trees.

Rules were made to be broken, and a ruffed grouse will find a way to survive, even with a double load of #6’s headed their way. Some feathers were left behind, so we looked for the dead bird for 10-15 minutes, never to find it.

After a few hundred yards down the trail, the dog peeled off to the left, hot on some scent. We slowed, got on ready, and from the opposite side of the trail, and slightly behind, a bird flushed. I got far behind, garnering a clean miss and a confused look from the dog.

We continued on, and finished the walk, judiciously changing our route out by crossing a creek and getting back to the truck a few miles over what we had planned.

Bird hunting is the sport of kings. It’s supposed to be a leisure activity made for long, slow walks and watching dogs work. Unless you hunt with Will, who apparently feels like you need to trudge through every thicket, jungle and wall of trees he can find, while dragging his portly companion along. The portly companion forgot to bring water as well, because, well, it’s not like it was going to be arduous or anything. I’ve captioned this photo “This is some bullchit right here.”

aMrQxfsC4KGHPRZl7yPMZCR17GuYa2OoeSezLg4PV22k6pRjbX1LXGTWk9TmFQX0F-WuEoY_689SW_9Zg4e1JH1Nxaj8fFfXKXv3cY7818uBf_8gLWJ9ycUk6vswil8vllffhl-M=s0
 
Last edited:

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
15,369
Location
Cedar, MI
Back to the cabin and most everyone connected on birds but us. I keep telling myself it’s fine, as the birds will come, and the dog is still picking it all up; all the excuses we make for ourselves when we miss the shot. But honestly, getting that dog to hunt a species that she’s never hunted before in a situation that’s vastly different than big open country roosters & sharpies absolutely constituted a good day for me.

Grilled squirrel quarters and shredded potatoes were the fare that evening, and they were tremendously good. @BrentD can make a mean squirrel. More lively conversation following the day’s hunt, and soon we were reliving some of the more colorful encounters online that led us all to risk possible personal danger in order to gather in the woods to chase birds. Luckily, nobody brought up crossbows in archery seasons, muzzleloaders in MT or whether or not the wolf is going to, in fact, eat us all as we walk the woods.

One among us wasn’t having quite as much fun as we all were though. @Wildabeast had brought his new puppy along, Wasatch. As an 8 week old puppy, he’s pretty playful. But as a puppy in a house full of tired, snippy bird dogs, he was unrequited far more often than not. 35 pounds of floofy goofer is fun, no matter how old you are. Greg has his hands full, and that dog is in for a charmed life.

bLy4fgjd_K9s34yg0bryN59jDxHOY9xrTWWegdzCNoTaOslEX53FusVhh1bPX4CXjflUF0FzBA0NWfOe4TDSOI6hPdyh2efC9VfxNO2MNwNdjy0EOnFp0JctoDSTmDgF3xGfJU2V=s0


The next morning’s routine was the same: Grab some coffee, something to eat, make a plan and head out. @Hunting_wife dropped a pin for us on a spot she & her husband had success on the day before, so Will & I headed out to the promised land. Feathers at the parking spot, birdy country all the way down the road. Diane had done us a solid. Greta, my black lab, is an excitable lady. She’s eager to let you know that she knows that there’s fun to be had by shriek-barking. It’s a lovely noise that pings off the trees, announcing your arrival to every living thing in the forest. If you’re a little too slow gearing up, she sings the song of her people even louder, in order to impress upon you just how impatient she is.

The old logging road was kind & gentle compared to the slog from the day before. We walked on for a while, until Greta got birdy, and a grouse flushed to our right, no shot to be had as it flew straight up and sideways, while also being backwards all at the same time. WIll & Greta got down into the cover and tried to roust the bird, but I distinctly heard the sounds of laughter as it simply disappeared into the canopy.

lVBnKpE9GfhQbq6KTsOoknL3-VKtGH5UxZPHGi3f5VhtMoE0MSqJBMLTHEazvXWDvVxz8QFFKxDdmDzL_8VVEm-9NwJrhoEJB8C-W64pT-xcO-uQhoQoQZeaR4oeUmuRz4p5WW4D=s0


A couple hundred yards down the trail, Greta whips around, nose down, and points a pair of ruffed legs in a 2 foot diameter hole in the bush. Her first legitimate point, along with a flush with no command that sent a covey deep into the brush where security is more than just a fantastic Peter Gabriel album.

We finished up the walk with Greta finally putting 2 & 2 together. We sent her on some sprints through the bush as Will walked around a thicket that looked birdy, and she ping-ponged between us, in her usual pheasant hunting fashion. No more birds on our way out, but a successful hunt in my mind as the dog that I’ve poorly trained & spent too much money on actually acted like the bird dog that’s in there.

As we got back to the truck, it was topping 75 degrees. The dog was spent, as was I, so we headed back to the cabin for lunch and to let the puppy out of the kennel. The bladder of a 2 month old Bernese Mtn Dog is miraculously large, btw.

Will headed out again for a solo hunt, so I’ll let him and the others take it from here,,,
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
11,945
Location
Boston
I was the only one silly enough to fly into grouse camp, and therefore, unfortunately, the earliest to depart.

Given it was the last afternoon I decided to give it one last go, most of my grouse hunting has been... well... spot and stalk? Basically sneaking down roads in MT with a corgi at my heals for the retrieval.

Ben and I had driven by a good looking spot on the way back to the cabin so I gave her a go...
1633455454000.png
1633455494611.png

Right off the bat I had two opportunities and missed both.

Now, you might get a different story depending on who you talk to ;) *cough @Ben Lamb *cough @BrentD but I'm pretty sure if you pull the first trigger on those highfalutin doubles both barrels go off.
(I'm told it's cause I shoot a $250 mossberg and pound the shit out of the trigger, clearly a fallacy)

Thinking that was it, I decided to walk a couple more bends, and glad I did as I was rewarded with a grouse flying straight away down the path...
1633455532834.png


Pretty please with myself I headed back to the truck.


With the truck almost in sight wouldn't you know it another bird waddled out onto the path.

Now, a grouse is a grouse so like any reasonable person I slammed that trigger as hard as possible and discharged a fusillade at it on the ground.

1633455566412.png

Feeling very satisfied that my Montana tactics had worked well in Minnesota I returned to the cabin elated
1633455612209.png
 
Last edited:

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
15,369
Location
Cedar, MI
Hey Ben.... Was there any Scotch ale and kilts used in the making of this adventure?
The comment was made "I hadn't expected this much laughing, or so little drinking."

So, no kilts, and I'm not sure what the beers of choice were. There were some very nice bottles of bourbon being passed around and @Hunting Wife makes a mean wine as well!
 

VikingsGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 2, 2017
Messages
7,100
Location
Twin Cities
Given that this is a group narrative I will pass it along, but before I do...

@VikingsGuy is wonderful host and even more fun to verbally joust with in person
View attachment 196669
This pic almost implies that I was lost in a tragic boating accident (along with my ARs) and my hat was all that was recovered. ;)
 
Yeti

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
97,619
Messages
1,490,506
Members
30,747
Latest member
mdson
Top