Thursday, October 5, 2017
This evening I cleaned my gun and was standing near the garage caring for the birds I shot today when I heard a grouse drumming. Fall time grouse drumming is not rare but tonight it seemed especially welcome after a beautiful day in the woods. The first thing I thought of was how many hunters are outside their camps right now hearing what I heard. It's an absolutely wonderful evening – perfectly still, clear sky, cooling to likely frost by morning – during our favored month of October.
The great outdoor writers, now gone, like Spiller, Foster, and Evans, would christen October the Grandest Month for all the sport it provides. For me following bird dogs pursuing ruffed grouse and woodcock are the headliner. Toss in an occasional outing for sharptails, huns, and pheasants, and don't forget the waterfowl and you can eat up a month in a hurry. And if that's not enough (of course it's not) there's the fall run of steelhead and brown trout and the big autumn muskies are stocking up before winter! Sometimes it's hard to decide which direction to head and everyone who loves the rod and gun laments the briefness of October.
Yesterday morning I was in a little sneak boat alongside the duck huntingest guy I know. Sitting low on my tail with legs stretched out in front and rowing two miles alongside AT in the dark tested my back and hip joints (I'd say the boat won) but once we were set up all was good. Ducks were seen, ducks were shot, and ducks were missed. We'd lay on our backs in the boats covered with blind material to our chests, only our heads stuck above the gunwales. If we couldn't lure the birds to our front there would be no shooting and twice AT rowed out to pick up the kill and adjust the decoys more to his liking. I've never hunted ducks quite like that and if nothing else I'm happy for the experience.
The weather has been tough for upland hunting, early season heat in the 80's and then days of rain. Finally today dawned cool and clear and so far the nicest day yet. There's still a lot of heavy foliage, but fall colors are taking over and we were able to get into some birds. Gabby messed up a little, twice while she was on point she saw the grouse running on the ground and couldn't resist the chase. I wasn't perfect either and I missed what should have been a given straightaway shot. But we brought home enough to fire up the grill and tomorrow looks to be nice as well.
Tonight I think I'll sip some of my favorite and finish tying up a large muskie fly for a float trip next week. Happy Autumn!