Public land hunting is often synonymous with ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting here in North America. We are incredibly fortunate to have free and easy access to a multitude of public lands rooted in the foundation of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Established on the recognition that wildlife and wildlife-based recreation are an inherent public resource, this system ensures that wildlife and habitat will be managed and used for the benefit of the people.[Read more…] about Public Land Provides Pandemic Remedy
Why We Hunt
A hunter’s reflection on the complexities and associated emotions of the moment we find ourselves bird-in-hand…
In the closing minutes of the last day of Wisconsin’s ruffed grouse season, I shot a beautiful mature gray bird that flushed wild high out of a mature aspen. Holding that improbable bird, part of me wanted to let out a wild barbaric WHOOP, one which would rip through the surrounding woods, but doing so never seems quite right to me in this sober moment when I have just ended the life of such a wildly noble creature. On top of the elation, I felt regret, twinges of guilt, I even foolishly wished we hunters had a shoot-and-release. Part of me wanted to throw that bird in the air and watch it fly away, but hunting requires pulling the trigger or at least the intent to do so, otherwise it isn’t hunting. It’s something else, I don’t know what, but it’s not hunting.[Read more…] about Bird-In-Hand | A Ruffed Grouse Hunting Essay by Mark Parman
An upland hunter reflects on his last day of the season.
Saturday Morning, February 29, began with a crisp, cool, but sunny morning. It was also the last day of the upland gunning season and a day that brings bittersweet thoughts to my mind each year. It is with regret that I know that it hearkens an end my days afield with my canine companions. Yet I also know that my body needs a rest from endless treks across the mountains, my wife would like to see me around a wee bit more, and spring chores await. And gardening season is upon us and fishing in the creeks is just around the corner as the weather warms.[Read more…] about Last Day of Upland Gunning Season
Mention the words “Up North” and it conjures up different images for different people. For some it is the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan or any of the other Great Lakes, for others it is the snow of winter and the accompanying snow skiing or riding snowmobiles. For the fisherman it is the lakes and rivers searching for trout, walleye, northern pike, muskies, or Lake Perch. For the football fans it is the Green Bay Packers or the Minnesota Vikings. The waters of Lake Superior produce record size smallmouth bass. And mention the Upper Peninsula (UP) and thoughts turn to wilderness, wolves, and bears.[Read more…] about A Kentucky Grouse Hunter Travels “Up North”
The day a German immigrant became an adult-onset hunter at RGS Grouse Camp in Wisconsin
Most grouse and woodcock hunters know this situation: standing in young Aspen cover with a shotgun in your hand. All you hear is the tone of the e-collar that tells you a dog is on point maybe 50 yards away from you. Slowly, but with determination, you make your way through the thick cover of late September, just to end up about 15 yards in front of the dog still strongly on point.
Just six month ago I would never have thought I’d find myself in the Wisconsin North Woods, chasing the King of the Woods and the curious looking timberdoodle. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know of the existence of either of these beautiful birds that are now so common to my vocabulary.
Lessons in life are always there if we can only let ourselves take time to learn them. This past weekend was one of those times that I continued to learn. As President of the Kentucky River Ruffed Grouse Society, I have been leading the charge to help this bellwether bird of forest health for this period of time. From habitat search to fundraisers I have been involved.[Read more…] about Kentucky Grouse | Life is a Journey – RGS
“To those devoid of imagination, a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” ~ Aldo Leopold
I’ve always believed that hunting should be difficult. The act of killing, whether avian or ungulate, carries with it a weight of responsibility that should not be forgotten too quickly. In the Southern Appalachians, the mountains in which I wander, the hunting of the ruffed grouse is, at the very best of times, an exercise in patience and effort.
Each year, my home state of North Carolina collects data from participating hunters and publishes the North Carolina Avid Grouse Hunter Survey. After a peak around 1990, the likelihood of success in our southern mountains has declined in a dramatic way. The odds weren’t good 25 years ago, and even a masochist like myself would have found past numbers sufficiently challenging.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT: Member Christian Fichtel, North Carolina
” . . . it is disturbing to me that there are so few grouse left in the woods here. I often wonder if I will be the last person to walk some of the coverts I hunt. I wonder how many before me have had the same thought? I take hope in the fact that there are still a few folks with dogs fighting the laurel and would like to see more of those people in the future.”
I was asked by a friend a few weeks ago if I enjoyed failure. This was shortly after I recounted the highlights of last year’s West Virginia grouse season. I laughed it off at the time, but it does make me wonder, after a season of several hundred miles of walking and no birds taken . . . was it worth it? My answer now and I hope always is: absolutely. The reason I hunt grouse has nothing to do with birds in hand. I hunt grouse because I’m an adrenaline junkie. I have yet to find a sensation that can match the electric moment just before a flush. The moment when dog, man and bird are all awaiting the same release.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Drew Phipps