Smoky Mountains Grouse: Day 3

March 3, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More

Rain! Jay's Ol' Chicken Killer (click to see bigger).

The forecast called for rain on Thursday, the third and final day of our Tennessee hunt. But as of 11:00 Wednesday night there hadn’t been much wind let alone rain. Yet unfortunately, the forecast was enough to discourage the hunter and dog supposed to fund with us day 3.

Didn’t matter, we were going hunting.

On the morning of day 3, with cameraman Steve in tow, we headed to the great spot we found on day 1. Since we wanted to get a flush, shot and bird down on camera, we put Brendan on the road that Jay had been on the first day and told Steve to stick with him – for three reasons:

1. That’s where the shots had been on day 1.

2. Brendan had been the bird dog the whole trip thus far, meaning he was the guy who for whatever reason was putting up the birds. That’s just the way it seems to go, like fishing: one guys is always on them better.

3. He’s a better shot than Jay.

Here’s where things get humorous. We’re about 50 yards in. Jay had not put up any birds down by the river, nor had we heard any flushes. Just rain.

For some reason, Steve decided to get some footage of Jay going through the creek bottom and made his way over. In hindsight we both should have told him to stay put. That was the plan.

So sure enough, literally the second Steve got over to Jay, they heard boom! boom! and then, “Bird down!”

Steve couldn’t believe it. He and Jay hustled over to Brendan to help him find his bird. Didn’t take long, a bee-yoo-tiful Tennessee grouse, a different-colored bird than we’ve seen before. It was red-brown, not exactly russet, not exactly brown – kind of a spruce bark color – with light feathers in the chin/neck area. Just gorgeous.

Brendan bags another. (Click to see bigger.)

Even though we didn’t get the flush and shot on camera, we did get the hero footage and the story:

Brendan took may be five steps after Steve left, when the bird flushed from the right side of the road only about 5 yards from him. It was trying to cook up the slope to safety.

Brendan swung quickly, winged it with the first barrel, then finished it off with the second. The bird was super close, but he’s a good shot and the Federal Premium Wing-Shok Upland lead load opened up enough that he got a few pellets in the bird. The bird was intact, so he must’ve just got it with a pellet or to right in the vitals.

A good start, but that ended up being it. We walked the rest of the good habitat and never heard nor saw another another bird. Everyone had to get going back to civilization, so we got back to the cabin packed up in a hurry and took off.

Check out the giant acorns in this bird's crop!

Watch out for the Spanish Lady. In Brendan's hands she's a killa!


Lessons Learned

Here’s what we learned on this trip:

> Tennessee has birds, and apparently hardly anyone hunts them. It was late in the season, but he only saw two other cars, let alone other bird hunters.

> You can find some great grouse habitat there, in some ways completely unlike other grouse habitat.

> Would we return? Absolutely. Plan on doing it again next year.

> A pack and water bladder is essential for hunting this type of country.

> You better be in shape. It’s like hunting out West: all up and down. Way more than in the classic grouse hunting states.

> The Federal Wing-Shok shells opened up and patterned nicely for us. This was our first time hunting them seriously, and the Premium Upland loads did exactly what they were supposed to do. They also look great – love the maroon and brass.

> The RGS does good work. We’re sure it helped create that amazing mountaintop habitat. Proud to be members.

> And one more: Triple-check to make sure you pack regular coffee. No decaf!

Hopefully we can get this Serious Bird Hunting TV show off the ground. It’d be a lot of fun, and one thing’s for sure, it won’t be like any other upland bird show anyone’s ever seen.

Windin' up the hunt.


And so begins seven months of torture waiting for next season. Fishing helps, but….

Luckily our heads will be in the game – we’ll be researching and staying on top of all things upland here on, so we can all keep thinking birds.

Category: 2010-11 reports, Hunt reports, Ruffed Grouse, SBH, TN

Comments (3)

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  1. Djloder says:

    Pretty AYA sxs a true grouse killer. Can’t afford one yet so I steal my Dad’s he dosent seem to mind to much!

  2. UplandGuide says:

    Enjoyed your 3pt story on your TN upland hunt. It’s tough going down there with most covers located in steep terrain. If you do get a flush you usually have a difficult time seeing the bird through the Rhododendrons. Note: Coursing the uplands for Grouse and Woodcock is just not the same without a wonderful doggie leading the way.

  3. M Hinkle says:

    Like the website. Read the book. You youngsters are on the right track. Good luck with the tv show.

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