The following is a pass-along email from the Pointing Dog Journal.
The Glorious Days of Autumn
by Frank Jezioro, Editor-at-Large
A great part of hunting ruffed grouse surrounds the country where the birds live. Whether you are in the aspen cuts and alder tangles of the Lake States or winding your way across the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, you are in God’s Country.The season begins when the land is ablaze with color.The aspen trees are shimmering with gold and yellow and circled by the reds of the blackberry canes and staghorn sumac. In the Appalachians we walk on a carpet lush with the subtle browns and golds from the leaves of the oak-hickory forest and highlighted with the blazing reds of the maples. Grouse hunting days in the early fall truly takes place in a glorious time of year.
But this day wasn’t one of them! When you drive a thousand miles for a week or two of hunting, you have limited time to spend with the dogs.You know that you may have a few days of rainy, wet weather. When the rain comes, you can do one of three things: You can sit in the cabin and watch TV, sit close to the fire and talk about grouse hunting, or – unless it’s a downpour, you can don your rain gear and get out and hunt, even though you’ll be hunting in soggy underbrush, with drops falling down your neck.
Rick and I ran into those days last fall in the UP. We had decided to hunt “the Wolf Place,” named because of all the wolf sign we saw three years ago.This area is a series of long draws up through a vast aspen cut with three or four main haul roads running the length of the mile-long cover, ending in a tangled, log-strewn cedar and spruce bog. There was no indication that the misty rain would stop anytime soon.The dogs were rustling around in their boxes and we were fidgeting around in the truck.“Well, we can sit here and wait and talk about grouse hunting, or we can dive into the cover and see what we find,” I told Rick.
He nodded, “Let’s give it a whirl.”
As you may have experienced, “waterproof” leather boots really aren’t, unless they’re used only for walking to the mailbox in a drizzle. The only solution I’ve found is the rubber bottomed L.L. Bean-type or even a solid rubber boot like I was wearing.
I put a few shells in the vest, and broke open the AyA 28. Normally, I have a gun or two that I refer to as my “rainy day guns,” ones I like but that aren’t of the highest quality and price. In these sodden conditions, I normally don’t hunt with the AyA or any other of my really nice – expensive – guns; rather, I prefer to hunt with one of my Ithaca SKBs. I just don’t like to submit one of my great old guns to miserable conditions.(I am not alone in this quirk. Our editor also has a rainy-day gun. It is some sort of English double with short chambers in 12- or 16-gauge from some obscure maker that no one has ever heard of, certainly a gun the rest of us would be embarrassed to be seen with raining or not, but that is still sufficient in killing a grouse if he hits it.)
Another thing we have noticed, and I’m sure you have, too, is that the dogs seem to really enjoy hunting in wet conditions. They stop now and then to shake, but it apparently has no impact in dampening their enthusiasm; and in the warm early season, they don’t overheat or need to be watered as often