What’s in a name anyway? When it comes to some of our favorite grouse coverts, a name can represent a lot of things! It might be a clever nickname or it could be a cherished memory or a snapshot in time in the life of the covert or of the hunter that givith thy name. As a result of our recent venture into the spring drummer’s woods, detailed here, we’re considering naming that covert, “The Kingdom.” Regardless of what the name of a covert represents, our crew has always favored the use of nicknames when passing along hunting reports and the art of naming the coverts has become somewhat of a tradition in itself.
Normally when exploring cover and branching out from our traditional haunts, we navigate via traditional landmarks and road detail. We’re always seeking out new cover as any respectable grouse hunter must do. Coverts change and develop over time, bird population relative to that cover can vary dramatically as the years go by and it’s important to keep one’s bag of tricks full! That being said, it’s amazing how some coverts, over time, manage to produce birds constantly and continuously, at least in our experience. We have yet to develop an official grading system for our coverts, but we typically refer to them as prospects, rookies, all-stars, busts, etc… This system provides a general sense of each covert’s performance or potential. One such covert in particular has recently solidified itself as the single greatest covert I’ve ever had the good fortune of hunting. Naturally this covert deserves a special sort of qualification, so in keeping with our sports related theme, the Northwood’R crew has officially inducted this beautiful patch of northwoods into our Hall of Fame. We may take a closer look at this covert in a future post and possibly attempt to break down what makes it so great.
For now, we want to focus on the names! Naturally the best names are formed in casual conversation over time, they are never forced. You gather a few quick witted gentleman around a camp fire after a day in the grouse woods, add a cold beer or glass of brown liquor, or two, and you typically have a recipe for “covert naming” success! Most often, that type of situation leads to the best of the best when it comes to naming a grouse covert. Names can be formed all sorts of ways however, sometimes it’s a physical landmark or attribute of the covert that gives it away, other times a memorable moment or day can solidify a name. Roads, lakes, and streams make for great descriptors and help to store coverts away in the mental map of every grouse hunter, yet they don’t always make for the best names. As we all know, there are some times when we’d rather not share the specific location of a fine piece of grouse cover.
Some coverts go down in the record book; others fall by the wayside along with their respective names. The ones that live on however will always be remembered by the sportsmen that take to them every fall. Over the years, I’ve certainly accumulated a list of covert names, many of which I do return to each and every year. Just to name a few: The Loop, Treads, Tree Farm, South Side, Four Fools, 12-Miler and the list goes on. The memories I have associated with these coverts would no doubt make for a much longer list than the names themselves. The Loop, for example, was given its name due to the circular trails we walk through the cover that forms multiple loops. I’ll never forget the first time I discovered this trail. I had been shown another trail a short distance down the road from The Loop. Although the other trail was quite short, about two city blocks, the number of flushes I had on it never ceased to amaze me! So one day after walking the shorter trail I hopped back in the car and headed down the road, vowing to pull into the next trail I saw, regardless of how it looked from the roadside. A short distance down the highway I arrived at what is now known as The Loop. As I was pulling my truck to the side of the road near the trailhead I spotted a grouse darting across the trail into the cover, always a great sign! By the time I threw on my vest and loaded the gun, the bird was long gone, but I went on to flush an additional nine birds during the hour-long walk. It wasn’t until the 10th and final bird that I finally put one in the bag, but as you could imagine this covert went straight from prospect to seasoned all-star. It didn’t take us long to tag this one The Loop and we’ve continued to hunt it over the years. The cover itself has since passed its prime, however we still frequent it once or twice a season for old-time’s sake and we’re never surprised to put up a bird or two.
Naming our coverts has certainly become a tradition amongst the Northwoods’R crew and we hope to see it continue. It’s just another aspect of tradition that makes the annual march into the grouse woods such a significant part of our lives. The names and memories of seasons and coverts past transcend time and allow us to pass on our love, passion and knowledge of these sporting pursuits. Aside from that, one never knows when the next great covert will emerge from the perfect combination of Mother Nature and biology, and when it does, it will most certainly need a name!
I”m sure we’re not the only ones to name and rank our coverts! We’d love to hear about your covert names and stories, please share them in the comments section below!