A Ruff Day

We usually wait 'til October to chase ruffed grouse.  It gives them a chance to grow some, feather out too.  They're a bit wilier, having endured a month of hunting.  A few less leaves on the brush increases the chances of seeing, rather than just hearing the wingbeat of fleeing birds.

We slipped out one mid-week day.  The weatherman said that a storm was a coming (indeed it did). It was a gray, flat light day. Cool and damp, the previous nights rain clung to the brush.  It made for a nice comfortable day for a walk in the mountains. I toted a camera, looking for that one quintessential, elusive image that captures the essence of ruffed grouse hunting.

So, up the muddy trail we went.  A few deer tracks.  Moose tracks too.  Along the way, a wandering bear had torn apart some rotten logs while grubbing for a meal.

Hunting ruffed grouse, amidst the thimbleberry patch

Birds?  Yes. The first couple flushed wild, then the dog settled in.  A point. Flush. Shot. Retrieve. One in the bag.  The first ruff of the year.  A mix of buff and gray, they sure are pretty, this king of game birds.  I heft the bird, admire the plumage.  The feathers on it's crown and neck look interesting for tying small trout flies.

Hunter peers into brush looking for a ruffed grouse

Brittany on point

Brittany retrieving a ruffed grouse

The dog has no time for my dawdling.  It's gone in a moment looking for more birds.  I hurry to catch up.

Another point.  Wife zigs, the bird zags and flushes on the wrong side of a tree.  Smart.  They know how to use cover.

This day there would be more points.  More flushes.  Days like this are rare.  Another bird comes to hand, then another.

Ruffed grouse in a game bag

Time for a break, then a long hike out.  Birds flush, we watch them go.  No more shooting. The dog wonders why we're not holding up our end of the deal.  It doesn't know that the hunting was done before we stopped to turn back.

No matter.  We're all wet and tired, colder too.  Clouds thicken and drop, obscuring the mountain tops.  Tomorrow….winter.  Then, hopefully, Indian summer will return and we'll have another chance for a ruff day.


  1. Fine post, Lester. Don't know why it took me so long to find your blog, but I'm glad I did. Will add it to my blog roll.

    1. Walt….thanks for checking in….I enjoy your blog as well.

  2. Just came across your site and really dig the content and photos. Keep up the great work.



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