Every day in the field is memorable, but some are unreal! Hunting a covert that I have always been successful in, I set out with Andy and Scott to pick up some Columbia Sharptail Grouse. The first hour was pretty disappointing actually. We found no grouse and very little sign. I had started dragging my feet a little. Some days just go that way. No birds really isn’t a big deal, but it makes the miles pass slower. My GPS beeped letting me know Shai was on point, at 250 yards. This is a bit out of the ordinary since Shai is usually a 100 yard dog. I start walking that way, but I couldn’t see Shai. Just then I hear three shots in the direction I’m walking. My interest is more than peaked now and my pace quickened. I crest the hill in time to see Shai coming at me with a Hun in her mouth! That lousy dog had not only held the covey in place, but let someone else shoot a bird over her! Traitor. I pass the bird off to Scott, who got the shot, puffing a little with pride.
We made the turn at the end of the section and worked into taller grass. Every bird hunter is the same. We are all experts when it comes to sharing our opinion on the habitat and habits of game birds and those opinions vary so widely that anyone new to the sport would be hopelessly lost should they come to more than one person for instruction.
“If the grass is higher than mid-shin and sparse, you’re wasting your time.” “Grass needs to be thicker and about knee high.” “You want to find an overgrazed pasture on the edge of sagebrush.” None of these are incorrect as I’ve found birds in them all, but I pity the neophite trying to sort through it all. Bootleather. Bootleather is the answer. Anyway, taller grass today. Two birds flushed out in front of Andy without offering a shot, but we watched them settle in and headed that way. It was beautiful, big country. Before we ever made it two dogs were on point and Scott’s lab was barreling through the middle. 14 birds made up the first covey and we had worked past the dogs and into the midst of them before the first bird popped. Then they just kept popping on all sides until three guns were empty. Between the birds and the guns, the dogs were pumped up! We took a minute to water them and break the excitement, then we moved again. The next two hours were unreal or impossible or unbelievable and I wouldn’t believe you if you told me the story. 52 birds in just over a mile!! It was a day that all others will be measured against and it was great to walk with friends behind great dogs.