I have been hunting with my good friend, Jim Parry, a number of times over the past three hunting seasons. However, we never seem to get into many birds when Jim is around and the ones we have found have presented only tough shots. I have joked with Jim that he is the “K.O.D. (“Kiss O’ Death”) of Grouse Hunting.” In all seriousness, Jim is a great companion in the field and I really enjoy hunting with him. Moreover, last Saturday morning, I realized I misjudged my friend’s hunting prowess and skill with a shotgun.
After an arduous hike into one of my blue grouse coverts, “Up on Top” with nothing to show for our efforts, I decided to take Jim to a covert I dubbed “the Outhouse Covert.” I named it this because this narrow creek bottom literally has an outhouse about three-quarters of a mile up the draw. Moreover, because of my experience missing copious blue grouse the first time I hiked this productive draw, I joked that this is the place you go to shoot like Pure-T crap.
Despite its name, ye ol’ Outhouse has become my choicest covert this year with numerous coveys of blues and ruffed grouse and my shooting has been a little better (knock on wood!). As we hiked up the draw I felt good about our chances.
When Jim and I reached the chokecherry thicket where I had found a small brood of blue grouse on opening day, another covey of five or six blues intermittently flushed up the side hill. To my amazement, before I could even shoulder my gun, Quickdraw Jim fired and knocked one bird down and then pumped in a new shell, swung hard on another, which I did not see because of the thick quakies, but heard hit the ground with the threnody of its last wing beats. Frankly, it all happened so fast that I did not realize Jim had actually shot three times and had taken two birds with three shots. I believe that Jim pulled off a genuine double, which I have never done in all my years of hunting blue grouse. Not bad for any wing shot, especially one who I had earlier dubbed the “KOD of Grouse Hunting!”
I kept my eye on Jim’s first bird, while unbeknownst to me, Misty, my Brittany, retrieved the second one to Jim’s feet. Since I didn’t see Misty retrieve the other bird, I said, “Jim, I think you’ve got two birds down. I heard the second one hit the ground.” I then walked over to where I heard it hit the ground and sure enough, saw the pile of feathers, but no bird.
“Where’s your other bird?” I asked with a puzzled look on my face.
Jim responded, “Misty retrieved it.” I then walked over and patted Jim on the back and congratulated him for his excellent shooting and good fortune.
Once we had both birds in hand, Jim said to me, “One of the grouse flushed into that tree right there,” as he pointed to a nearby service berry tree. It took me a second, but I soon saw the camouflaged blue in the tree. Jim offered to pitch a stick while I planted my feet and got ready for the flush. With the throw of Jim’s first stick, the bird flushed hard down the draw and, to my relief, I made a nice shot. In less than ten minutes, we had three grouse in our game bags and big smiles on our faces.
I said to Jim, “That was some good shooting, my friend.”
He humbly replied, “I just got lucky, that’s all.”
We hiked up to the Outhouse and took a few photos of Jim with his two birds. I was genuinely happy that after all these years, Jim finally got the skunk off. Taking his photo seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Jim’s double flusher in the Outhouse. Good job buddy!