The internal hunter in me craves for September to arrive every year. While summer fishing satisfies to a point, nothing beats gripping the gun and hitting the hardwoods for a little early season fun. Luckily, friends in the same mindset joined me to a special northern Minnesota location to try the grouse opener September 17th this year.
With grouse numbers holding strong, I thought this year may begin the spiral downward on the path of the 10-year cycle. However, drum counts, surveys and estimates predicted steady and maybe even increased numbers according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. I was hoping they were right.
As we arrived “up nort,” we found bean fields brown and corn stalks quickly turning from green. Fall had set in recently, with football type temperatures. Bundling up for Friday football and the start of hunting season seems simultaneous.
The aspen were starting to turn beautiful hues of orange and yellow. However, the multitude of green leaves meant stealthy grouse hiding and sight lane difficulty for every impending flush.
Unfortunately, family responsibilities limited our trip to a part day, but it was successful nonetheless. Flushes occurred in deep cover, and the first shots of the season rang loud. The legs got a workout for the dogs and even us aging men.
We savaged venison brats for our tailgating lunch, which was certainly the cherry on top. I started thinking about the smell of the grill all too early that day. If nothing else, the camaraderie we enjoyed together in the hardwoods capped off the start of the season.
From the flushes we witnessed and the short time we were able to hike, I think it might be a good year for Minnesota grouse.
Copyright 2011 Backwoods Revolution