A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting by Mark Parman

By Mark Parman

''There are varieties of looking: usual searching, and ruffed-grouse hunting.''—Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac

 

Like that prior grouse hunter Aldo Leopold, Mark Parman takes to the woods while the aspens are smoky gold. right here, in an evocative almanac that chronicles the early season of the grouse hunt via its lead to the snows of January, Parman follows his puppy throughout the altering timber and foliage, thrills to the unexpected flush of thrashing wings, and holds a fowl in hand, grateful for the meal it is going to supply. Distilling twenty seasons of grouse looking into those essays, he writes of previous canines and gun lust, disguise and transparent slicing, weather switch, partners female and male, natural world artwork, and stumps. A Grouse Hunter’s Almanac delves into the brain of a hunter, exploring the Northwoods with an eye fixed for greater than simply game.

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Sample text

Woodcock typically flush in a generally vertical direction, fluttering up into the treetops, while grouse thunder off horizontally in a devil-be-damned manner regardless of what lies in their flight path. A woodcock flush never rattles me like a grouse flush can. Woodcock are small birds that fit neatly into a hunter’s palm, while grouse are heavier bodied, traditional upland birds. Woodcock breasts are dark and livery, somewhat like those of ducks or geese, which also migrate; grouse breasts are a delicate white.

Gunnar pounced on it when it fell, quite happy to think he had outsmarted that one. Typically, I miss grouse that flush from trees or brush, the uncouth downward flush handcuffing my shooting. In my experience, however, most Wisconsin ruffed grouse are extremely wary. In all my years of hunting, I’ve never had a dog seize one on the ground. The fittest birds, in the Darwinian sense, flush well before the dog and I ever get near. I hear many wild flushes, but I imagine more birds sneak away undetected, running away on their strong legs, although with a good dog the chances of this happening lessen considerably.

He had a relentless drive to hunt, yet he was gentle and kind. He always squealed with delight when we came home. And for that we will always be grateful. The Cycle t ’ s t a l k e d a b o u t i n b a r s , on sporting clays courses, in operating rooms, even in churches. Magazines publish articles about it, university professors research and write about it, and biologists present their findings at conferences. Every September our local paper runs the same annual article about it, and still we know so little about it—the Cycle, the mystifying fluctuation of the ruffed grouse population that runs its course roughly every decade, crashing headlong from a high to a low sometimes in just one season.

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