Day 3, ME: All Grouse, None Down

October 19, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

A whole lotta this (click to see bigger).

Monday meant we were back hunting in Maine, but this time in a totally different place. Our general m.o. is to check out a bunch of new territory, find productive areas, try to find other places like that on Google Earth and by driving around, etc. until we have spots we can milk-run at the end of the week and/or expand upon next year.

So we went north this time, but not to an area we (Brendan) had scouted out via computer. Instead we got a hot tip from a Serious bird friend. Now, we’ve tried the hot or local tip thing before and it’s rarely worked out. But this Serious birdman had just been up in the neck of the woods we’re now in and gave us a few guidelines with enough specificity to get our juices going (thanks much!).

So tally ho and all that, not knowing exactly what we’d find, but planning to hunt anything as long as it wasn’t beech and maple. We’d seen what seemed to be millions of acres of that stuff, and for sure it held a bird or two, but not enough to make it worthwhile to stomp through all day.

As we headed north, dodging logging trucks, we kept our eyes on the cover. First place we stopped we’d characterize as marginal habitat, but it was the best we’d seen so we stopped. Some birch islands – trees a little big, but okay – with a couple small streams, and a piney thicket near the road.

Ended up that Brendan saw a drumming stump, Jay then saw a bird running ahead of Brendan. We got that bird to flush twice, but both times it flushed low, no spot. (Though when we stopped at our next spot we heard a road hunter shoot that bird. Bummer.)

So one bird, two flushes.

Hey! A horse!

The second spot had lots of right-size beech. We didn’t want to hunt it but it looked decent and were impatient to get out of the truck (not always good!). Brendan thought he heard a distant flush, tough to tell with all the wind. If he did, it was a skittish bird, and with no more flushes we figured the near-the-road spot was hunted often.

From there we decided to drive far north and hunt places that most folks wouldn’t think to hunt…presuming they weren’t road hunters, which 90% of Maine grouse hunters seem to be.

We went across a stream bridge that had a pine forest to the left but walkable alder banks on the right, and just then a young grouse walked across the road, right to left. So we drove up about 200 yards, parked the truck and commenced a-hunting.

Where we found the big group was a bit to the left (click to see bigger).

We hunted the left bank toward the river, put up that grouse but no shot in the pines. Then we crossed the road and Jay hunted one side of the stream while Brendan and Sean hunted the other. Jay put up no birds, and the other two guys flushed a grouse but didn’t get a shot.

After about a half-mile we decided to about-face and walk back to the road. Jay got there first and kicked around some cover on the other side while he waited for the other two guys. Then Sean came out. Jay started walking over to him when they heard Boom! Boom! Brendan’s 12ga AyA SxS.

Usually that means a bird on the ground, but Brendan didn’t know if he’d gotten one this time. Seems he decided to walk over a piney hump and toward an opening in the cover, almost a hard edge more than a soft one. Just then he saw a grouse strutting ahead of him.

He got his gun up, ready to try to make that bird flush, but it wouldn’t do it…until it got behind a laydown. When that bird temporarily disappeared he noticed two more birds walking behind it. Then the first bird shot flushed, followed by the other two. Brendan tried to pick a bird, and it ended up he didn’t get any of them. He wasn’t happy!

We pushed around that area again and flushed another bird twice with two more shots from Brendan, but no grouse.

Did we mention he wasn’t happy? Thought he was going to break his putter over his knee….

Anyhow, that was 7 flushes, 4 shots, no birds. A great spot for sure, one obviously not hunted and unfortunately not one we could exactly replicate the rest of the day. We did flush a few more grouse for 12 total (6 shots, no birds) plus one woodcock (no shots). The only common denominator was stream banks.

Getting ready for tomorrow....

The cover up there…we couldn’t get used to it. It didn’t seem to lend itself to patterning – meaning this factor plus that factor equals birds. But maybe we just hadn’t spent enough time in it.

It was a higher-altitude day, a day of spending more time in less-productive cover than we’d like, and it ultimately boiled down to bumping random or semi-random birds near water – which is sort of a pattern (one factor’s not enough). But 12 grouse flushes – we were pretty happy with that. We just had to get more and better shots.


> Weather has been variable but mild…too mild maybe.


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

Comments (2)

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  1. Bill Brundige says:

    Gentlemen, consider a dog, also It’s not how many birds you get but which one’s you remember. Call Cal Robinson at Grants and he will point out some great covers. Good luck
    – BB

    • admin says:

      Thanks Bill. Two of the three of us have dogs, just could not make the trip, and we like to find our own covers/bird patterns, but we’ll take all the luck we can get!

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