Maine Day 1: Altitude Adjustment

October 17, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

Brendan with the first grouse of the trip.

How do you find a chicken (or two) in a million-plus acres of wilderness – without a dog?  A little Google Earth, a lot of walking and some grey matter.

We’ve never been to the Rangeley, Maine area before, and were/are (we’re still here) psyched to go. Brendan did a ton of Google Earth, map and other research – which he enjoys – which helped a lot to narrow down the millions of acres. He found a bunch of cuts, supposedly populated by aspen…but you can’t tell for sure until you’re there.

One thing we noticed was that it’s a lot steeper than the Rockwood, Maine area, where we’d hunted out of for a few years. Not something we were scared of, in terms of legs, but just different. A lot more change in altitude, which generally means change in tree mix. Would it matter?

Looked cool on paper but....

So far, yes. When you get in to 1,400+ feet, it’s pine city: firs, pines, you name it. Now, we’re not saying there are no birds up there because we’ve seen a bunch of road hunters and few random birds zipping across major roads, but how do you hunt that stuff?

More on that later in the week, and back to day 1. Brendan had found these cuts close to the cabin, weird “crop circle”-looking cuts. If they were aspen patches, they had to have birds…though they were a bit far from a road. So we went there first.

The bottom line was the cuts were fairly high up, the “wrong” tree mix – we never like it, beech (okay) and maple (not okay) – and an unbelievable amount of water. Ad hoc streams were gushing down the hillsides about every 10 yards it seemed like, and the alders at the road edge were in 5-6 inches of water – not damp.

So after putting a couple miles on our boots in that stuff, without seeing a bird, we decided to bag it and go elsewhere. (How wet was it? One guy who stopped thought we were hunting ducks!)

The question was: where?

Brendan had rolled over our Rockwood-area spots and found they had one remarkable consistency: about 1,100 feet elevation. So that’s where we headed next…and lo and behold we got into birds. Plus, oddly, it was drier lower.

Jay and two woodies.

The first spot we tried, Jay put up three woodcock and shot two. The first went up, he shot that one, then the second bird went up on the second shot and the third went up when he broke open his gun to put in more shells. One of them re-flushed and he shot it, and he ended up putting up a couple more.

The second spot we ran into a grouse that flushed away from Jay at a soft edge (old logging road) and right across Brendan (R to L) going about a million miles an hour. Usually Brendan knocks those birds down but this time he didn’t. But we chased that bird all over the hillside and on the fourth flush Brendan made a good shot and brought down a fat, older bird.

That was great. We hunted one more spot at the end of the day, a ton of right-sized aspen – but unfortunately it was right off a main-ish road and someone had already hunted it that day. We could tell because we flushed no birds and Jay found a wounded woodie which he caught by hand and promptly dispatched.

It was a huge area, too big for two guys, but we ended up flushing one more grouse on the day. Flushed out of a tree, probably hopped up there to get a look at us. We also put up some more woodies, but none down. Jay had an easy shot on one, but true to his multiple-bird-flush day the woodie flushed after three tweety birds flushed from the same area so Jay wasn’t ready to bang it. Weird.

Here's where we flushed the second grouse....


Anyhow, we ended the day with :

> Grouse: 5 flushes, 2 birds, 1 down

> Woodcock: 12 flushes, probably 8 birds, 2 down (one shy of a limit)

Not terrible for a new area, and we were psyched to hunt some more but because this was Saturday and you can’t hunt in Maine on Sunday for no good reason, we were heading to New Hampshire on Sunday.


> The day 1 weather was a little windy, some rain, mostly cloudy but some sun.

> The keys on this day were altitude, areas that were wet but not too wet, and finding birds that were hemmed in on at least one side by something (river, road, etc.)

> Oddly we saw no first-year birds.

> Brutal amount of walking – Jay got double hammy cramp, his first ever, had to say “uncle” for 5 minutes.

> PS: We’re posting brief daily updates on our Facebook page.


Category: 2011-12 reports, Hunt reports, ME, Ruffed Grouse, SBH, Woodcock

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. jared says:

    Hey sounds like fun! I am going to be up there friday and saturday of this weekend, w/ my 16 mo GSP. Send me an email and maybe we can hook up for bit. Good luck with the rest of the week.


Leave a Reply