Written by: Richard Bjorum
International Falls, MN
This occurred over thirty-five years ago, during a different world. Here’s why. I often would load my hunting gear: an SKB 12 ga. double with an English stock, a box of shells, Carhartts, LL Bean boots, game vest, hunting shirt or jacket–as the weather dictated–into the cab of my truck in the morning. After school I would get my stuff from the parking lot so I could quickly change in the boys bathroom just down the hall.
I was hunting grouse in a mixed woods on a familiar, much older logging skid trail, now just a path. This patch of woods lay between a state highway and the swampy end of a shallow bay off of Rainy Lake near the Canadian border. As days shortened hunting time, I often stopped to hunt on the way to our lake home.
Perhaps 20 minutes into my walk a woodcock noisily flushed right in front of me. Instinctively my double swung from the port arms carry into action. I fired the IC barrel, folding the small bird about 30 feet ahead, above a 10-12 foot balsam almost right on the trail. Ejecting and reloading, I walked forward to pick up the bird, that I assumed fell close behind that tree. But it was nowhere to be found in the sparse grass, leaves and brush. Hmmmmm….finally I set my shotgun down, leaning on a stump, and s-h-o-o-k the tree vigorously!
I felt a plop in the crown of the wool tweed Irish hunting hat I wore in those days. Reaching up there it was, the “timberdoodle.” it had been caught in the basket of small branches near the top of the tree.