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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Additional info for A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting
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.