Lets here some good dog stories as well.
Can we attach pictures in this forum now?
I just got back from a 10 days of hunting in Sawyer, Bayfield and Ashland counties, last year I hunted for 2 weeks. I thought the bird numbers were pretty similar to last year. Worse day moved 7 birds, but the birds were holding good and bagged 3. Best day moved 19 birds bagged 2. My days are typically about 4-5 hours of boots on the ground. Best luck in aspen stands that were broader line getting too big.
I have to agree. You never “lose” while out hunting grouse. You may find yourself humbled by the King of the Uplands. But you cannot lose taking your dog and a shotgun into the woods.
I am very happy with the number of birds this year. I took two people new to the sport out for a couple of days. While they did not connect and bag birds, they got to see the dog work and we sure did have plenty of opportunities. I’m also happy my scouting paid off. I found some new cover and barely scratched the surface in those spots. Tempted to try for one more long weekend before December. My wife is gonna kill me.
Hunted friday and saturday with my son and our dog. A hunt better forgotten as far as shooting skill goes. Plenty of birds, no complaint there. On 2 seperate birds I emptied my 3 shots and whiffed bigtime. These werent difficult shots, maybe 20+ yards out flying crosswise.
On saturday we hunted a 20 acre patch of spruce and popple surrounded by alder/tamarack swamp. No sign of birds so we stopped for a rest and were sitting and talking for maybe 10 minute when one lone bird 15 yards away got up and flew straingt north. We followed him. Dog pointed on the edge of the swamp so son went to the dog and I went 30 yards further to set up for a shot. Son shot, missed. Bird flew 20 yards out from me crosswise and I had a good shot at him. Shot once. The wings stopped beating and bird descended to the edge of swamp. I thought I got him and for half hour dog and I scoured the bog in knee deep water and never found the bird. We got back on dry ground walked 20 yards in the direction of the birds flight along the swamp edge and bird kicks up again. Flew across the swamp and never seen him. The saving grace is that I never touched him and he lives for another day.
Overall a great time in the woods and great weather too.
I generally agree that county land gets cut more frequently and holds more grouse. I will say that my best day was October 14th and about three hours in Chequamegon where I flushed 28 birds and bagged four grouse and a woodie before I ran out of shells. Went back a week later, hunted the exact same cover and flushed exactly two birds in nearly four hours.
I find a lot of cover to be fickle. One of my favorite and most reliable covers in Vilas has not produced a bird to hand in two years and the flushes could be counted on one hand. That is a cover I used to take new grouse hunters to in order to ensure they got on birds. Not any longer. I found myself exploring a lot of new cover last week. And I was happy with what I found.
The grouse hunting game is won and lost by those who put on the miles and keep moving.
National Forests are typically not good for grouse habitat...in fact, I've found them to be dead zones due to lack of logging. Find some county land where there is active logging. The reality this tear is that you can find zero grouse in perfect habitat, move 5 miles to similar habitat, and flush decent numbers. I flushed 20 birds in 45 minutes in 1 spot after getting zeroed out a few miles away.