Frankly, it's my opinion, and a noticeable trend, that when a guy spends too much time on poetry, describing the fragility of nature and the wonder of its bounty, the delicate balance between hunter and the hunted and the indelible connection between himself and nature, that he's probably just experienced a pretty unproductive day of shooting. As example, I offer up my recent anecdotes with regard to my Birdless yet extremely rewarding adventures in the field. While I feel genuinely enriched by these experiences, in the back corner recesses of my brain, where the wild things are, I was counting the moments until I was able to come back to the highlands and level the scales against my feathered foes.
We started the morning at high altitude, 9,300 ft. With a group of six, we elected to split up and carve the hilltop into sections. After only a short walk we manged to locate and harvest three birds situated in a stretch of timber that held the four primary blue grouse ingredients, water, aspens, and pine surrounded by immature sage. As the crisp snap of morning turned to crazy high fall temperatures, it quickly became apparent that we needed to seek shelter from the heat at lower elevations with deep dark hollows filled with shade that centered around water.
|See the bird? This one escaped in the sun.|
For the afternoon hunt, I paired up with bird man and good friend Matt Otiz, Upland Odyssey , and ten year old nephew and mountain storm trooper Ben, to carve up a section of mountain that had the right look about it. Keying more on comfort conditions than food source, we headed up a deep dark section of old growth pine that was intermittently dotted with aspen combined with abundant water resource. The timber shoot was on!
Most hunters of Blue Grouse concentrate their efforts almost exclusively on food source followed by edge. While this is productive for morning and evening hunts, it is equally important to adapt to conditions and focus on the climate when necessary. Ever hear a buddy say, "I wonder why we don't see birds in the afternoons. Where in the hell do they go?." With temperatures reading 82, and likely higher on the mountain face, we knew the birds would be seeking shelter from the heat and would be concentrated in the deepest darkest COOLEST spot they could find. We did too, pointing ourselves into a menacing cover of thick pine. In so doing, we were amply rewarded.
|Mia and crew resting after a hard fought retrieve|