By Joel Schnell for ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
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.
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.
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 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.
By Joel Schnell
Posted January 1, 2019.
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
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