An exercise in grouse hunting

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 07:53 PM

I had a ball last weekend hunting for grouse in the mountains. While we didn’t down any birds, we jumped several and had over a dozen beautiful points by the dogs. 

And even better, we weren’t attacked by any bears, although I did take a picture of a big pile of bear poop that looked a lot fresher than I would have preferred. At least now I know where bears do their business.

Hunting with guide Josh Swaim of Yadkinville was a memorable experience, and his dogs were of the highest caliber. While it’s been a long time since I’ve done much hunting, I did do a fair amount as a boy, both with and without dogs.

Back then, my friends had some strong bird dogs, but I have never seen a pair of dogs hunt this enthusiastically. They hunted so hard that Josh carried five dogs with him so he could rest three in the truck while hunting two, then switch out for a new set between morning and evening.   

We had all kinds of equipment to aid in hunting the dogs, including GPS tracking collars that showed on a device where each dog was, where they were heading, and when they stopped on a point. 

Then we would scramble up steep hills through heavy woods to release the dogs and flush the bird. Grouse are typically loners, so you only have a shot at that one bird, and the way they run and make short flights through the heavy brush like roadrunners, it’s hard to drop one.

Although we didn’t get any birds for the table, I did get a few weeks worth of exercise in those two days of hunting, and by the time I returned home after midnight last Saturday night, I was so sore it was hard to get out of the car. 

If someone was to do that kind of hunting regularly they’d be in great shape, and Josh sure was. At the end of the day Saturday, he was running up steep hills at almost the same pace he’d been at since we started, while I had begun to lag behind using a walk and rest pace more befitting to a middle-aged man who is used to exercising on a treadmill.

Kerr Lake fishing report – Crappie are biting up in the Staunton River. Bass fishing’s a little slow right now.

Next week’s report – Susan and I are heading to the Wake Forest vs Georgia Tech basketball game on Saturday, then leaving for a road trip to either the mountains or the beach. We will decide which way to turn when we get to the end of the driveway.

Tip of the week — Keep a backup drain plug in your boat. And mark your calendars for the Boys and Girls Club of North Central N.C. benefit fishing tournament coming up on June 1 this year.   

Contact the writer by email at waltbowen@yahoo.com, on Facebook under Walt Bowen, and on twitter at @WaltBowen.