Smoke and heat was the theme for our annual Colorado grouse camp this year. High above the Colorado river is where I started my day off…but not a single bird was located before the temps hit into the mid 80’s. Surprisingly, this area has been very productive in the past but that day we never moved a feather. Blue grouse are very tough to take inventory on because they’re a reverse migrator…they reproduce in the low country and move with their broods to the tree line as the season progresses. Their diets changes as they migrate to their winter grounds. They spend their winters in the boughs of Douglas fur or Lodge Pole pines consuming needles as their winter staple.
Scott Johnson and I met up at grouse camp, got caught up on life as we waited out the heat. About 5 pm it was cool enough to get out and run the dogs on some Columbian sharptailed grouse. We hit our favorite spot and moved about 5 birds which in our estimation was a significant decrease compared to years past.
O’dark-30 on Friday am I got up and headed down the rutted road to town to meet up with Bill Roden whom I hunted with last year…our friendship was forged via social media. While driving to town, I ran smack into the largest flock of domestic sheep I’ve ever witnessed being moved to their shipping grounds. They delayed me by an hour easily…the Basque gouchos did their best to guide me thru but holy sheep doo…there was a pile of range maggots.
We completely goose-egged on Friday only moving one sharpie and all my favorite blue grouse spots had campers and tents. It was the opening weekend of the elk muzzle-loader season that weekend. We were flabbergasted by how many sports were in the woods.
Our final quartet member was in grouse camp when we returned that evening…dairy vet extraordinaire aka Blaine Nicks, made it to camp and was already enjoying libations when we pulled in. Blaine has been bitten by the classic American double gun bug that I too an afflicted with! We got up that am to a delicious breakfast compliments of Doc Blaine…mmmmm mmmm!
Saturday was a great day for birds…we found several sharpies with some decent dog work before the heat came and then we found a few blues in the evening in the dark mixed forest. Blaine harvested his first columbian sharptail and blue grouse in the same day. That evening we dined on sharptail grouse nuggets that were divine! What a great trip and incredible bunch of guys to spend time in the outdoors with. Can’t wait til next September…I’m planning to OUT DO our grouse camp with amenities galore!
Here are some more images from Colorado Grouse Camp 2017. Enjoy! Next is Idaho!