The Silent Season

Posted by on Jan 1, 2019 in Hunting | No Comments

By Joel Schnell for

A fresh foot of snow covers the Northwoods. One last ruffed grouse hunt for the season means donning the Sorels and enjoying a landscape like none other.

Each one is a gift

After 20 minutes of trudging in a foot of snow, I was beginning to think I’d have to step on one to get a bird to flush. No tracks, and plenty of roosting snow. And quiet, that deep muffled hush only a grouse woods deep in snow can provide.

Leaving only tracks, and soon they too will be hidden

I sat Levi out on this one. He’s still not 100 percent recovered from his ankle injury. And it’s trapping season to boot. I miss not having a bird dog to roust those grouse from under the snow. My patience was soon rewarded though.

The beauty of a fan

The trail I followed crossed a road into more mature timber on the other side. Always mindful of grouse seeking cover under pines and deadfalls, it seemed worth a shot. After another 20 minutes I saw a bird fly ahead of me. Could have been a bluejay, hard to say. I walked nearer and this mixed color bird burst from the snow 10 feet to my left. A shot through the pines and he dropped on the other side.

I am always thankful for every bird in hand. Each one makes me feel like a teenager with his first buck. Fortunately we get to enjoy that feeling- joy and then a bit of sadness- more than once a year. Hunting in the snow can be the most challenging of grouse hunts, and most rewarding.

Snoozing on the couch, only dreams of the hunt until next season

By Joel Schnell

Posted January 1, 2019.

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