A wise man once stated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
After hunting the Windy Mills covert on Wednesday, we decided to drive over to Grouse Rock in search of Ron and Andy’s favorite game bird—the ruffed grouse. (I know…they’re both nuts…what more can I say?) Grouse Rock is an old friend, comfortable like a worn pair of leather boots or Orvis shooting gloves. A trip to Idaho isn’t complete without a visit.
The trusty GPS took us up a canyon we’ve never been in before. The dirt road reminded me of World War I trenches you see in old war movies. It was so severely rutted from hunters transversing it during inclement weather. There were times when I honestly thought it was impassable, but the Tacoma prevailed. We finally arrived at Grouse Rock. Andy and Ron headed up one draw and I decided to try my luck the next draw over. There’s an old deer-camp logging road that I love to hunt up. Below the road, there is a spring fed creek that contains an old growth of choke cherries the grouse love to hang in. On the uphill side of the road is sage brush. Andy and I have seen grouse get out of the sage when the ground is covered with snow but the majority of grouse we’ve seen have come out of the cherries on the down-road side. I decided to give the setters a rest and got out Ellie, my 9 year old field bred English cocker.
We headed up the logging road, but Ellie wouldn’t get into the creek bottom, she persisted to run on the uphill side in the sage. I was getting a little peeved and kept calling here back into the creek. Halfway up the road, Ellie got back into the sage. Just as I was about to called her back a grouse vaulted out of the sage and sped towards the choke cherries. I stopped it with the Ithaca Flues 12 and an ounce of RST 7&1/2’s. Ellie flushed a second grouse from the sage to the same fate. I quickly reloaded just before a third grouse exploded from the sage. However, this grouse made it safely to the dense evergreens on the other side of the creek after a volley of a double-barrel salute. I was ecstatic with Ellie and my almost grouse double.
I couldn’t wait to get back to Ron and Andy to retell the tale! Meanwhile, Ron had collected his first Idaho ruffed grouse as a bonus. Grouse Rock shined on us that day!
The Colorado shortgrass prairie has gotten under my skin. I love spending time on it and exploring the haunts of scaled quail. Here are a few photos from recent trips…enjoy and be safe this season!