As the leaves change, so does the grouse season. The trees are on fire, figuratively speaking of course, the grouse are venturing out into new territory, and the hunter’s anticipation builds as he looks ahead toward the glorious month that is October. For any seasoned grouse and woodcock hunter, October most certainly marks the pinnacle of his or her hunting season. The crisp fall air along with the transformation of the forest combine to set the stage for some of the finest upland hunting one could imagine.
After a half month of grouse hunting, I’m certainly ready for the days of October. So far it’s been an interesting season with initial bird numbers in question, a new pup on the ground, and some unseasonably warm temperatures during the final weekend of September hunting. We hit 80+ degrees in Northern MN last weekend, which is definitely not ideal bird hunting weather. On the plus side, I did get my fifteen week old Setter swimming for the first time which was a blast, we both needed a jump in the lake after that hunt!
What I can share from my adventures so far, is that hunting with the new Setter pup has been an absolute joy, he’s had some great bird contacts so far and continues to show drive and excitement each time we take to the woods. Also, it’s still too early to tell how some of my traditional coverts are doing for bird numbers. I’ve had good days and bad, but not enough to know for sure. I’ve spent just over 30 hours in the field and flushed 37 grouse which puts my flushes per/hour at about 1.17. That number of flushes is certainly not terrible but it’s far from great. I’ll be very interested to see how that number changes over the next month. In the meantime I will continue to put miles on the truck exploring new land and cover which is an essential tactic if you want to succeed in the grouse woods. Early season is a great time to do some of this scouting as you prepare for October hunting, besides it’s a perfect excuse to get out in the woods, cruise some gravel roads and enjoy the fall colors.
My experience in the woods this season however is definitely not the benchmark. I’ve heard plenty of great reports from others in our network. People are finding birds out there and that should only get easier as the young birds seek new territory and the leaves continue to fall. As if you needed any additional encouragement to spend some time in the grouse woods, GET OUT THERE AND HUNT!
Have a great October friends, happy hunting and let the Northwoods’R crew know how you’re doing out there!