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2015 New Hampshire Grouse Safari

Don M RS

Day 1, October 12. The vagaries of hunting in early October, temperature was in the low 70’s. Not ideal scenting conditions and tough on the dogs. We went to a spot we had hunted on previous trips where we had success, Dead Stream Road. For the day we had a good number of flushes, eight, but most of the birds flushed wild. Only one bird flushed over Ben’s point and Dale took a shot but missed.

Day 2, October 13. The temperature moderated a little, dropping to 65. Again we went to an area we were familiar with, several spots along Magaloway Road (don’t you love some of the names). The wind really picked up prior to a front moving in. We only flushed five grouse. The highlight of the day was a productive woodcock point by Ben. We were working a small opening near a road when Ben locked up solid. The bird flushed straight away and I dropped it with a 20 gauge load of number 8’s. Some people don’t like the taste of woodcock. I do and will eat all you give me.

Day 3, October 14. Oh how the weather can change this time of year. We awoke to dropping temperatures and a cold rain. There was no way around it; if we were going to hunt it meant getting wet. So out we went to Indian Stream, another favorite haunt. We did not have many flushes but those we had proved successful. Of four grouse flushed we bagged two, and I dropped one of four woodcock flushed. Ben came into his on as a bird dog today. All birds flushed and shot were over his points or birds he found. He was a workhorse today.

Day 4, October 15. The morning dawned cold with a light frost but forecast to be in the low 50s. Seems like ideal conditions, and they are. We just couldn’t seem to get into the birds. We only had two grouse and one woodcock flush with nothing in the bag. We did not hunt too long because Jerry took a spill in the woods and hurt himself.

As I write this we await our fifth day of hunting, and it looks like it will be a tough one. Rain is moving into the area and the temperatures are forecast to drop. That said, our most successful date was on a cold rainy day. We are here and have to take advantage of it. Has the trip been worth it for the few grouse we have killed? The answer is an unquestionable “yes”. First, it is good to spend time with good friends away from the frantic pace of life. We can joke, have fun at each other’s expense, and relax among like minded people.

What made this trip worth it for me was that one wet day when Ben came into his own. He has been a late bloomer compared to my other dogs. That’s probably most likely to me not giving him the training time he needed. But on that cold, rainy, windy day in northern New Hampshire I saw the light bulb go on over his head. You could tell he had it figured out. What his meaning in life is. He’s a bird dog now and I’m proud he’s mine.

My one regret on this trip is that I did not get to shoot either a grouse or woodcock with my Winchester Model 42 .410 gauge. The gun was handed down to me by Uncle Jim, my hunting mentor, and has special meaning. It’s not the ideal grouse gun, it has more to do with legacy. But that is another story.

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