Lets here some good dog stories as well.
Can we attach pictures in this forum now?
Good points. I took an old Rem 1100 many years ago and cut the barrel to 20 or 21". Left it. No choke, open cylinder. Best grouse gun in the woods. Allows me to throw lead fast and where I hunt I never need choke. Nothing but high brass as well. Yes, trust the dog. Slow down and trust the dog.
Does anyone know how to go about commenting on the shortened season? My understanding is that at this point it's just a recommendation from the Natural Resources Board and the DNR will finalize the decision in early August. I'd really like to make my feelings known but not sure how to go about it. Any help?
Agree on so many levels. My son and I hunt the thickest, nastiest stuff we can find way off the trails. We move many more birds than the guys I usually hunt with because they stay close to the trail. And they don’t like to get out at daybreak. That means I usually hit a quick two hour morning hunt then head back to the cabin to get the lazy boys. And I nearly always have a bird to show them. I too use only high brass shells. They cost more but pattern better in both my 20ga auto and O/U. But the number one thing that gets me success is my pup. I watch her body language. If she is trotting along casually I know there isn’t a bird around. The minute she slows and starts getting deliberate I know it’s go time. Well before the point. Which can sometimes be on a bird 30 yards out or 10 feet in front of her. You never can tell.
I love the whole game. Usually hunt a solid 8-10 hour day with a break for a Cliff bar and some jerky here and there. I’d do it every day if I could.
Tip #11. Easy to take the gun through tight brush if its shorter so I use a old 870, had a smithy cut it down to 20 inch barrel and rethread the barrel for the choke tubes. I like it. The shorter barrel lightens the load, quicker to handle which gets important as you get older and less agile and I dont fuss if its submerged or gets all scratched up.
haha. You are right I also have countless memories of missed chances that should have been a slam dunk.
Your story brings to mind what should be tip #10
10. Trust the dog when he says there is a bird
Five bird days are certainly possible but they are exceptions. I would agree hunting long and hard over good dogs is your best chance for success. A Grouse's daily behavior is somewhat predictable so knowing that well does help increase your odds of encountering them. We hunt the central forest where bird numbers are typically lower than further north. Cover is brutally thick, but that is where you'll find them most of the time. In peak years the dogs have put up as many as 20 or 30 birds a day but of those at least 60 or 70% are only heard, not seen, and 80% of the 30 to 40% that are seen are only visible for a fraction of a second. I can get off a shot in under a second and a lot of times that isn't fast enough. Agreed you should be shooting at anything (within reason) that is visible. I've tried a few where I fired into cover along their trajectory without actually seeing the bird anymore but find that has a pretty low success rate. If they are behind enough cover to no longer be visible your pattern will be largely absorbed by that cover, leaves may be an exception, but we hunt late season after the leaves are long gone so any cover they're behind is pretty solid. We use 20 gauge side by sides, IC and Modified. Being shorter they are easier to get through the cover and you can get off two quick shots if need be (although I can't remember too many birds being taken with the second barrel). My best Grouse hunting stories aren't about the ones I got, but rather about the ones I didn't. One VERY COLD late season day we were packing up to leave not having seen a single bird all day. Guns were cased and I had my boots off and was about to put shoes on (brother had one boot off). A Grouse coasts out of the tree line on the one side of the dirt road and lands in some aspens on the right. The dog, who had just been laying in the road saw it the moment it broke from the trees and instantly went after it when it landed. We quickly loaded back up and ran through the deep snow after her (me in socks, my brother in one boot). The dog caught up to the bird and it flew up into a lone pine about 25' high in the midst of the aspens. We got to the tree and couldn't see it up there. Tree was too thick to shake so I started throwing chunks of snow up there to try to scare it out. It wouldn't budge. After a few minutes (and utterly frozen feet) we started to wonder whether it had flown out before we got there and we just hadn't seen it. Dog was convinced it was still there though. We kind of looked at each other wondering what the hell when that thing burst out like a rocket. Each of us fired both barrels at it and never touched a feather. Dog was mad and we were humiliated. Took nearly the entire 2 and a half hour ride home to feel my toes again.
I hate to come off like a braggart but 5 bird days are not impossible. I have done it quite a few times. When I was younger and hunted obsessively I considered number of birds per day as follows:
1 or less poor day
2 ok/fair/respectable but not a good day
3 Good day
4 or 5 Great Day
I no longer push quite so hard and focus more on enjoying the experience than chasing a number to validate my day or season.
I'm sure most of you guys know these things but if you do the following 3 to 5 bird days are possible:
1. Hunt hard. Put in hours and miles. If you have buddies who like to start late, take a long lunch and quit early ask them along on pheasant hunts.
2. Get yourself in good physical condition.
3. Hunt the nasty, thick, wet stuff a lot of people avoid. If you usually can't see the dog, your face is constantly covered in spider webs, your arms are shredded and bloody, and your feet are wet despite "waterproof" boots you are in the right type of stuff.
4. Have good dogs. Spoil them after the hunt when they bring a bunch of birds to hand, spoil them more when they work hard but success is not high.
5. Use a good lightweight gun that fits you well and that you are intimately familiar with. Practice before season and between hunts. A lot.
6. Shoot at everything you can safely shoot at. I think of straightaway shots in the open as Dream Shots. You get a handful a season. If you wait for those you don't get many birds. If you have just an impression of a bird that you can barely or intermittently see moving through cover take those shots. I have hit a lot of birds that I really could not even see. I was just firing at their assumed trajectory through the leaves. (But of course be safety conscious. If you are hunting with others know their locations. Only take the hail Mary shots at an upward and safe angle, etc.) Take shots that you think might be too far out. Push the envelope a little.
7. I might be wrong but I like high brass shells. They cost more but I think they are worth it even if it's just for the extra confidence they give me.
8. Open up your chokes when appropriate. In early season thick cover I like a cylinder or improved cylinder.
9. Be lucky. I once got 2 birds with one shot. One was a bird I was tracking through the air and shot at. The second was sitting on a tree branch that the bird I was tracking passed in front of just as I fired. I never noticed the bird in the tree until it fell.
What other tips for success do you guys have?
Also what stories do you have of lucky shots?
Once again. Road hunting should be illegal. If you are not out on foot and you are ground swatting off an ATV or adjacent to your truck, it just isn't sporting. Sorry. My opinion for sure but I don't get the appeal of road hunting. I don't shoot them out of trees though either.