|GSP Ranger and Master Guide Rick Theriault|
|A limit of Ruffed Grouse|
As luck would have it the weather and the ruffed grouse population cycle seemed to produce a peak level of birds to be hunted for this season. October is the opening of upland bird hunting in Maine, and I do not recall seeing the number of birds ever in my lifetime spent in the Maine woods.
We have had the opportunity to share some time with a hunter from Long Island in the woods of Maine hunting for grouse, and saw a good number of birds and were able to take a few. After his hunt, my dogs and I have had the chance to hunt a bit for ourselves, and have had a very good time. A bear hunting friend of mine mentioned this past season while he was here that the month of October was too short for the number of things that open for outdoor recreation. I have to agree. This month has flown by, and the opening of our deer season began on October 27th. My dogs and I are having too much fun looking for grouse, so I believe I'll stick with bird hunting for the next few days if possible.
|My Dog Ranger and I|
This autumn has seen a passing of the torch from one dog to another. My first GSP, Trapper, who is also the father of Ranger, is now 12 years old. Trapper loves to hunt for birds. He unfortunately is too old to safely hunt for more than a short time, and only in the easiest of terrain. His old joints cause him pain for several days after a short hunt. It is very difficult to watch him suffer. It is equally painful to leave him at the lodge as Ranger and I head for the woods. His heart wants to go, but his body is giving out.
Trapper did a great job of teaching Ranger the ins and outs of finding grouse. Ranger will never replace Trapper in my opinion, as Trapper was a dog of a lifetime. Ranger is a great dog too, but Trapper was exceptional. He did it all. Pointed, flushed and retrieved. I only wish he was healthy enough to have enjoyed this season with the sheer number of birds that the lord has blessed us with. Unfortunately he has to stay back at the lodge and wait for Ranger and I to come home. Trapper's body has decided that lying by the wood stove is where it wants to be, while his heart and soul still craves to be in the woods looking for birds.
I guess this autumn with all of its outdoor pursuits that are here for us to do is also a time to reflect that we all need to enjoy life's Octobers. As there are too few years to enjoy them. If you have a chance to hunt for grouse with a great dog, do it. You and the dog will be rewarded by the experience.