Wild Ones

Bird dogs, hunter, prairie

Anyone who takes up bird hunting believing that it's easier and more productive that hunting big game must be supremely mistaken.  Let me tell you, there might have been a time, many decades ago when that was the case. Here in Montana, big game has always been king. Birds? Well, they were an after thought for most folks.  Almost no one hunted them deliberately. Nowadays, there are quite a few avid bird hunters, both in staters and out.  Many have great dogs and hunt hard.  As for the birds, any that survive the opening day "baptism by fire"  dummy up quickly.  After a few weeks of pressure they get wild as hell.  Just getting within gun range is a major accomplishment.

Take for example our recent sojourn for sharp-tailed grouse.  We spent two days covering a lot of country on foot, trying to locate birds and get within shooting range.  When we eventually found some, they invariably flushed a hundred or more yards  out.  Often, they flushed nowhere near the dogs.  Whether they saw or heard us is beyond me.  Sure, Addie sounds like a combination of Miss Piggy and the Tasmanian Devil when she's out snuffling about while trying to pick up bird scent, but its not as if the birds have gone out and ordered up a bunch or miracle ears.  Or maybe....  

Noncompliant birds not withstanding, we had a good couple of days.  It was comfortably cool. We got a lot of exercise without ever breaking a sweat. We got to see the lunar eclipse.  There were a couple of glorious sunrises.  The prairie was green, and the grasses still growing, most unusual for autumn.  The dogs?  They did their best.  After two days they were ready for a few days off.  There's lots of cactus out there, and it's mighty tough on a dogs feet.

To the west, a full post-eclipse moon.  To the east, a brightening morning sky.
 Both images taken moments apart......

Brittany on point

The total bag for two days of hunting was one cripple with a broken wing that the dogs picked off when it was trying to catch up to its departing friends.  We were lucky to get that one, even if we didn't fire a shot at it.

Prickly pear cactus


  1. I was a kid once and I hunted ruffed grouse a few times, and I actually got several of them. I know that bird hunting is a challenge. At least you've got dogs that know what they're doing. And your outings are always an interesting read. Do you hunt the prairie lands east of you?

  2. Thanks Walt, glad to hear that you find the posts interesting. My hope is that even my non-hunting readers will appreciate the blog content for the photos and regional exposure.

    If you were fortunate enough to bag several grouse as a kid, it was a most productive outing. I was a kid too once, also having grown up in the East. My early exposure to grouse was nearly stepping on one and having it flush explosively and hit me in the armpit.

    As for the dogs, well, they know what they're doing, even if we don't. And yes, we do hunt to the east.

  3. Les: Nice bird hunting story...not a hunter and learned a lot. Beautiful terrain/scenery and pictures...my favorite is grouse feather pic.

  4. Glad you liked it Bob. It's big open country. Clouds sure help add drama to the sky. Sharptails do have pretty plumage.


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