North Woods Grouse - Both Barrels & a Bear Slider

wllm1313

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If still alive, Chris Farley and John Belushi would play @Ben Lamb and I ;)
@HuntingHusband husband Michael Cera would play me... esp as I was trying to figure out how to put Ben's greifelt together for the first time... thank god @Hunting Wife wife was there to put me out of my misery

and I'm standing by my earlier statement at the cabin @BrentD would be played by Sam Elliott
ScreenShot2019-01-23at12.09.56PM.png


@HuntingHusband ... Steve McQueen... especially this look as I told him, what he presumed were tall tales... mostly weren't ;)
Steve-McQueen-Bullitt.jpg
 
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BrentD

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So, on 18 January in the year of our Lord 2021, I got an email. It was from Ben Lamb, inviting me to join him and Vikingsguy and a list of others on a bird-hunting trip. In Northeastern Minnesota. What I call the Arrowhead Country. I pinched myself and didn’t wake up. For real? Gotta be a joke. Nope. Seems real. Forty-eight years ago, by careful estimation, I last attempted grouse hunting as a kid with an 870 and a goodly chunk of the Superior National Forest to roam. I had big plans to go back after all these years, and now I had an invitation! Eat your heart out @Big Fin! J

Although I was gainfully employed at the time, I quickly fixed that problem and retired on 2 February, Ground Hogs’ Day – no coincidence. With that problem out of the way, I was now free for any dates, however long, and please, please, please, let the summer go by fast. It dragged on forever.

But so be it, the day came at last, the truck was loaded, Gus was ready, and my legs were in the best shape they had been in since 2018 (two more knee surgeries and a lot of miles make a difference). We were off.

Arriving at the @VikingsGuy homestead it was clear I had been gifted an amazing opportunity. This was wonderful. We moved in.


Gus, of course, gets the cot and the pillow. I get the floor and the dog bed.




When we finally hit the field the next day, Gus and I did not really know what we were doing. Gus had never so much as smelled a grouse. But 100 yds down the first trail Gus makes an abrupt jog to the right, wings erupt, something flashes up through a clump of birch and spruce, a gun goes off, branches crash down. What the heck happened? I do not remember actually raising the gun, much less firing. I did not see the bird come down, but I did not see it fly away either. We go in to investigate, and at the base of the spruce, I find no feathers. “Gus, get over here and check this out. Where are you?” I turned around and there he is, “Is this what you are lookin’ for, dummy?” A nice fat grey grouse is hanging from his mouth. Mission accomplished! If I do not get another, I’m happy.

Grouse #1


A couple hours later, it would be joined by Grouse #2.

Life is good. Very good.
 

BrentD

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So, this is what we did each day, hunt, eat, hunt some more, eat some more. Drink some beer (@JohnCushman you might recognize that bottle in one of Hunting Wife’s food pics, if you like Scottish ales). BS a lot. The food was fantastic. @hunting Wife’s nachos are legendary, and @Wildabeest’s lasagna is simply amazing. I bet the burgers that Dakota ate were great too. But they didn’t seem to agree with her 2 hrs later… L

I could prattle on endlessly, but I think I’ll just post some pics, and spare you the book. It was an amazing good time and one that I can’t believe even happened. It was perfect.

Spruce grouse – to reappear later


A double on sprucies! We will see these again also. Aren’t they beautiful birds? If you look closely at the first one, you can see a red eyelid.


Fall colors



One day we got to hunt with @Wildabeest – Way to go, Greg!


A bad photo of a nice bull we saw. Does my picture taking ability suck or what?

A5qVGMx.jpg


That killer puppy.

HyTyCOo.jpg


@VikingsGuy returning from a hunting expedition down the driveway. Nice gun!

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I even poached a tree one day.

tbJmxWQ.jpg
 
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BrentD

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While cleaning birds one day – this meat robber showed up. He cut, sliced, diced and then carried off a hunk of grouse. 5 minutes later he was back, but no more free loading!


Gus earned his keep many times over – as he always does






Last night’s dinner featuring the promised reappearance of the three spruce grouse – Moroccan Grilled Spruce grouse no less, ala @hunting Wife’s recipe. It was superb, though Sprucies are not noted for their deliciousness. Wrong! (and another McKewan’s for @JohnCushman)

s8iMQRT.jpg


All in all, this was a wonderful trip. I can’t thank all of you enough for coming and for inviting me and Gus. It was great to meet all of you. Frankly, none of you were really what I expected, except maybe @willm1313 –man alive! Do you have energy! But for a guy that can smuggle a whole bear through security as carry-on luggage, I think you could easily have brought your hunting Corgi, also Gus, along. Next time.

All of you were wonderful, and I’m forever grateful for the invite and your allowing me to bend your ears with talk of double shotguns and other trivia. It was grand.
 
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Hunting Wife

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Funny... all this talk of ground pounding grouse, yet there was no @Big Fin sighting? I thought he magically appears in a flash of fairy dust anytime a grouse gets snuffed in dirt spraying explosions of chilled sixes.
In that case, I tried to summon him numerous times. Can confirm he does not appear. Or I was using the wrong incantation. 🤷🏻‍♀️
 

westbranch

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Looks like a great time! I have met several people for hunting/fishing through forums and all meetings have turned out great.

Several of you probably drove within 20 miles of my brother's farm where I grew up on your way to NE MN. I need to get my year planned out better so I can make an annual trip back to the farm in the fall.
 

wllm1313

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In that case, I tried to summon him numerous times. Can confirm he does not appear. Or I was using the wrong incantation. 🤷🏻‍♀️
Some spells require a material component that is sacrificed along with the incantation + somatic component (in this case the ground pound), which is an incredibly obtuse way of saying;

"Did you have a Dilly Bar on hand?"
 
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Ben Lamb

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I'll let @BrentD talk about his doubles.

Mine were an early 1930's vintage German Drilling (No maker name as it was likely a guild gun made for a retailer who would add their name to it later) in 16 gauge over 8mm Mauser rimmed. I refinished the stocks on it and added the recoil pad after this photo was taken:

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A 1936 Griefelt O/U in 12 gauge. This was retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch in the NYC store, adding a fun bit of history to the gun:
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Hunting Wife

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Some spells require a material component that is sacrificed along with the incantation + somatic component (in this case the ground pound), which is an incredibly obtuse way of saying;

"Did you have Dilly Bar?"
My mistake. My only offering was burnt powder. Read the recipe wrong.
 

VikingsGuy

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I'll let @BrentD talk about his doubles.

Mine were an early 1930's vintage German Drilling (No maker name as it was likely a guild gun made for a retailer who would add their name to it later) in 16 gauge over 8mm Mauser rimmed. I refinished the stocks on it and added the recoil pad after this photo was taken:


A 1936 Griefelt O/U in 12 gauge. This was retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch in the NYC store, adding a fun bit of history to the gun:

@BrentD the gauntlet has been thrown down, we anxiously await your response.
 

BrentD

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@BrentD the gauntlet has been thrown down, we anxiously await your response.
Throwing gauntlets now, are we? Well, it's hard to shoot wearing them so I suppose that they must be thrown down at some point.

What can I say? I brought three guns - one to loan, one for back up if needed and one as a primary gun. You can see the Merkel in @wllm1313 posts. It's just a Model 8, BLNE (Box Lock, Non Ejector (aka extractors only)), no longer being imported into the US from Germany. Originally about $850 new and 6.5 # and 28" barrels with about 15" LOP with the pad. I bought it new in about 1993 I suppose. They can be found in excellent condition for about the same money today. I had the forcing cones lengthened, Briley thin-wall chokes installed, and lengthened with a rubber buttpad. This was all in celebration of landing my first (and last) real job. I figured it would be my go-to gun for all time. So little did I know. It is a fine gun for sure. Strong as they come but a bit Teutonic for me, perhaps. The shape of the forearm is too square and blunt, the action is fine but it doesnt' so much flow as simply declare itself invincible. With a double bite blow and a Green crossbolt for a third lock-up, so she is. I've busted her two or three times running after pheasants. This was an important lesson. I learned that I needed to figure out how to do some of my own gunsmithing. And I learned that I could. Under the skin, she has a couple of stainless bolts epoxied into butterfly mortises. Stronger now than when she was born.

The other thing I learned after this gun, and with the coming of the internet, was that it was as much fun to hunt FOR guns as i was to hunt WITH guns. So I did. The world was my huckleberry back then, I and bought guns in New Zealand, Australia, London and all over the USA. Being antiques (pre1899), they could be shipped right to my door. I learned a lot, and yet, I still don't know very much. Shotguns are cool because there is so much to know.

I can see Vikingsguy and Ben Lamb's eyeballs rolling back in their heads. Yup, going off the rail. Again. I'll try for brevity...

Of the other two guns I brought, one was an Ithaca/SKB 100 in 28 gauge, IC/M chokes, 25.5" barrels. It's about an $800-900 gun. These are damn fine guns. But have only a single, selective trigger. Weighs a bit over 6# which is too heavy for a 20 in my opinion, but lighter than most American 20 gauge doubles. I bought it for my wife to hunt over her golden Ande. I cut down the stock, added a pad, and she carried and shot it well, except at birds. But finally she killed one. That was enough. She never hunted again. So, I restocked it with another piece of wood and will be adding a leather covered pad to replace the lace on, that I need to make it work for me. It's arguably better made than any British or American gun, but lacks soul somehow.

The Ithaca is the bottom gun in this photo
Q3SrXc1.jpg


The other gun in that photo is the gun I hunted with all week. It is a Cashmore Paragon. Probably made around 1900-1910. I bought it as a back up to my favorite gun, a Greener Facile Princeps made to order in 1903. But I fell with that gun and busted it badly so for 14 months, I needed a back up, and nothing felt just right. Until this Cashmore comes along for only $725 delivered (BLE, aka Box Lock Ejectors). She had been resleeved (the barrels are cut off at the ends of the chambers and new ones are installed. The sleeving was done in England so it had to be reproofed before she could be resold. The resleeving was superbly done and she patterns like a champ. Chokes are IC/M, 26" barrels and spot on at 6# even. She was a little short, so I laced on a pad and found that things died really well in front of her. Amazingly well actually.

So, over the winter I learned how to make leather buttpads and added one to get the length were I wanted it. And under the original, but very murky finish, I could see figure, so I gave her a somewhat aggressive wash with acetone and then refinished her after bending her for a slight bit more drop and a slight bit less cast off. And now she is perfect. Like really perfect. Especially for grouse.

5M9J6BA.jpg


So why side-by-sides? Because they are beautiful, historic, aerodynamic on the swing, easy to carry, and quick to mount, but mostly because, they will make you look good (or at least better), and some of us need all the help we can get. (see photos of wllm1313 with and without Merkel for example, :)

In the end, your heirs will get most, if not all of your money back, and maybe much more, if they want to flip those guns after your untimely demise. Really, you are just paying a deposit to play with them until it is time for them to go. :)

Happy Gun Hunting. Remember, there are no closed seasons, no points to buy, no lottery drawings, no limits (other than your bank account), and you will always look better with a side-by in your hand. Even if you miss. Always.

PS. If you want to get an over/under, get one like Ben's. That thing is gorgeous!
 
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Big Fin

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In that case, I tried to summon him numerous times. Can confirm he does not appear. Or I was using the wrong incantation. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Oh, I was summoned. My last two days of moose hunting were kindly distracted by these gray-phase ruffies. I am at a loss as to how the 3rd one escaped, but it should be noted that while he picked in the sun-soaked clover patch and I had a bead on his head, I was instructed by the camera guy to "Wait, I gotta change batteries."

So, my daily take was reduced, but will make a great meal for my Mom when I fly to see her in Duluth this week.
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You hit it in a great year, by reports of my family. Next time, just remember that Big Falls is the center of the ruffed grouse partridge universe.
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Reading this story warms my heart. There is so much to be said for ruffed grouse hunting in the big north woods that gets overlooked in the glitzy world of big game hunting. Thanks for sharing here.
 

wseidel

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Fun tales of a great group that met to hunt grouse in my neck of the woods. I was amazed at the distance some of you came but then again, when adventure calls....always answer. I tell people often that life is all about relationships - and you guys proved that point well. Yes, you'll remember the thrills of hunting grouse along the North Shore of Lake Superior but you'll never forget the banter in the cabin, the jokes and shared tales, the delicious meals and the new friendships.

I'll be heading north of Beaver Bay tomorrow to hunt grouse AND harvest Chaga mushrooms. Your photos and stories helped to whet my appetite for my hunt with my golden retriever, Sophie.

Thanks for sharing your adventure.

God Bless,
Wayne

P.S. I only have to drive 40 miles...
 

BrentD

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Fun tales of a great group that met to hunt grouse in my neck of the woods. I was amazed at the distance some of you came but then again, when adventure calls....always answer. I tell people often that life is all about relationships - and you guys proved that point well. Yes, you'll remember the thrills of hunting grouse along the North Shore of Lake Superior but you'll never forget the banter in the cabin, the jokes and shared tales, the delicious meals and the new friendships.

I'll be heading north of Beaver Bay tomorrow to hunt grouse AND harvest Chaga mushrooms. Your photos and stories helped to whet my appetite for my hunt with my golden retriever, Sophie.

Thanks for sharing your adventure.

God Bless,
Wayne

P.S. I only have to drive 40 miles...
Make sure to take pictures - especially of Sophie. I am as snobbish about Goldens as I am about doubles.
 

Straight Arrow

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So, my daily take was reduced, but will make a great meal for my Mom when I fly to see her in Duluth this week.
Does your Mom realize the scope and breadth of your stature in the hunting and public lands conservation world? Or will she ask you why you aren't in your office working on taxes until the middle of October, further inquiring, "Are you and Matthew still doing that hunting home video thing?"
 

wseidel

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Here you go, Brent. This is was taken two years ago in the same area where we'll be hunting tomorrow.
 

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