I haven't spent a whole lot of time chasing grouse, especially since I moved to the Lehigh valley 7 years ago. In the time since I moved here I got a Chocolate lab. She's flushed and retrieved pheasants, retrieved ducks, geese, and doves. But on the few occasions we've traveled north we have flushed very few and had virtually no chances to actually harvest grouse. They always seem to flush way out ahead of me and the dog, or in cover where I just can't get a shot.
My Lab is now 7 years old and I know it won't be long before she can't spend a day running in the field. So I really wanted to put a grouse or two in front on her. We headed to deer camp in the ANF last Friday. I figured this would be my best chance at some good grouse hunting. I've flushed them when deer hunting many times.
Well after about an hour we put one in the air! I missed with my first shot, and knocked it down with my second. It landed in some downed trees. My lab is right on it, sniffing like mad around all the feathers. Finally she's got it, I can always tell when she pinpoints a bird because she freezes, kind of like she's on point but with her tail wagging like mad. I tell her to "fetch the bird", she lunges for it and it takes off running. It only goes about 10 feet before it finds a nice boulder that it can get under. GONE!!! I spent about an hour laying on the ground with a flashlight, digging out where I could, probing with sticks, trying desperately to get the first grouse for me and my lab.
The look my lab gave me when I realized it wasn't going to happen darn near broke my heart in two. She knew it was under there, kept sticking her nose under and sniffing, whining, scratching at the dirt around the rock.
We managed to flush one more, but it didn't present a shot, I fired a salute at it just for good measure. On the way back we passed the same boulder, my lab recognized it and went right back to sniffing and whining.
I didn't see a single deer while grouse hunting on saturday, or while deer hunting on Monday, but that doesn't bother me one bit. That bird was what I really wanted to get this weekend!
Now I'm longing for Dec. 12th and the hope that I might get another chance this year. Here's hoping we can put one up somewhere closer, going to try some SGL's in the poconos, or up near Ricketts Glen area.
Wish us luck!