Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished, and one happy camper

Its been a year of first birds.  First dove for Wyatt, and now first grouse for Ryan. I can remember my first grouse like it was yesterday. I was near Wabeno, on a friends private property, during a down cycle. We had managed to bag a few woodcock, but sometimes as it is in down years, the wait between Grouse flushes was almost brutal. I heard a distant flush and didn't see the bird until it was probably 30 yards on a left to right crossing shot. I missed cleanly on my first shot as I was looking into the setting sun during the "MAGIC HOUR", we all covet.
My second shot seemed like it was slow motion. i can still see that bird and a small puff of feathers sillouted against the reddish orange hues of the setting sun. It was pure luck, and I knew it. My next fear was not being able to find the bird. One of the guys who was hunting with us (suitably named "Stubby"), said don't worry.
His veteran yellow lab of 9 years had only lost one down grouse in all her years. Right on cue, Kelly had the bird in her mouth and was trotting back with my prize in her mouth. I took a second to admire this grey phase female and spread out the fan, as I had seen my teachers do so many times before me. It's a moment that will stay with me till I die.
Ryan had the same look of wonder after missing some earlier and often opportunities before it finally all came together. Oddly enough he took the fan and did the same exact thing that I did. I guess what our mentors teach us DOES have a way of following us through habit, even if we don't realize it at the moment.
One thing I know for sure. I managed to pluck and groom one from the depths of video gaming systems, malls, and now have a new grouse partner who can battle the covers all day with me, hopefully for a very long time.
Ryan, welcome to the club.