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
Why We Hunt
“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
” . . . and part of the reason I hunt is because I love the bonds that this sport creates. The bond between a man or woman and a dog, the bond between fellow hunters, and the bond between the hunter and the hunted. Being able to share a hobby and passion with the ones I love means everything to me.” RGS Member Morgan Wolfe
I remember the first grouse flush I ever saw. It was in a New Hampshire cover we call “Spilled Milk”. The dairy farmer who owned the land passed away a long time ago, but before he did he left an old milk can down by the river. It’s on its side as if it spilled the milk, and it’s near a tremendous amount of Japanese knotweed. We find woodcock are in there, but further up where the feeder stream joins the river are some old apple trees. We always work the cover counter-clockwise beginning with the knotweed and woodcock and closing out with the apples and grouse.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Morgan Wolfe
I might have arrived late to the grouse hunting scene, but I am determined to do everything I can to “pay it forward” and leave it in better shape than I found it.
Why do I hunt? I really didn’t have any choice, and I have been eternally grateful. My dad was a quail hunter. He started taking me when I was four or five years old. When I got too tired, he carried me on his shoulders. We hunted the sand hill scrub and pine/palmetto woods of Florida. I got my first shotgun, a JC Higgins .410 single shot for Christmas when I was 10. About that time, quail hunting lands began getting scarce as the hills and pine woods of Central Florida were bulldozed for orange groves. So, we shifted to dove and duck hunting.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Jim Gray
I don’t remember the first bird I shot. But I do remember when I knew I was a bird hunter. As a burr-headed boy of about 12, I was walking with Uncle Jim along a field edge in Alabama hunting rabbits behind a couple of beagles. The sudden eruption of a covey of quail not only startled my nerves, but drew something up from deep within that said, “This is who you are.” I have now been a bird hunter for 50 years.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Don Mallicoat
These connections I make with people, dogs, birds, my heritage and the soil along with the memories and stories I’ll tell for the rest of my life are why I hunt.
I got into this racket sort of backwards. What I mean by that is . . . I was not brought up gun in hand, nor raised in your stereotypical hunting household with time-honored generational sporting traditions. My bloodline has always had a hand in the outdoors, but was primarily concerned with fishing, and when my father had his fourth son (me), he chose to work overtime instead of go hunting. It was well-worth it though, and I am certainly not complaining. My family moved from the congested and dyspeptic, stripmalled and subdivisioned Camden County to Cape May, New Jersey about halfway through my life. This is where I fell in love with all that nature has to offer, but mostly the birds. Cape May has been described in countless ways as an aviary paradise drawing thousands upon thousands of migrating birds from shorebirds to ducks and geese, to hawks, eagles and songbirds all consequently attracting birders, artists, hunters, etc. and ultimately giving me and my shotgun a run for our money.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Cooper Rossner
The first grouse I ever swung on was a right-to-left crosser at “The Wild 80”, a hunting club my wife’s late father belonged to. It was one of those clear, crisp October days we all dream about where the grouse woods abound with a palpable anticipation while being flush with color. Oh, I did swing on that grouse all right – about five feet behind him! To paraphrase what Herb Parsons, the accomplished exhibition shooter, said about shooting clays, “Ruffed grouse aren’t hard to hit, they’re just easy to miss!”[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Ron McGinty
I grouse hunt because it’s in my DNA. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be passed down through genetics. Take a stroll through the grouse woods and you might find it quickly imprinted in yours.
The story of grouse hunting for me starts somewhere in the Deep South . . . in a part of Georgia, oddly enough, where there are no grouse. I’m still a third generation bird hunter – Every winter from December to the middle of January, we hunt the bird every grouse hunter knows: woodcock.
At a young age I was always with the bird dogs in the kennels until I was old enough to go and watch, then shoot. Prior to grouse hunting, I had hunted quail, chukar, pheasant and woodcock. Most of my hunting was with my dad, so grouse was the only bird he had hunted that I hadn’t. He made his first trip to grouse country a couple years before I did. The bird dogs are my world, and when I found another game bird to hunt, I wanted to burst with excitement.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Payton Gunby
Our sport will die out if we’re not bringing in new hunters. In the sales world, we say if you’re not growing you’re dying. In the hunting world, the same may be true.
I was about 8 years old when I rounded the corner of a bean field in Hyde County, North Carolina, and it was there I saw what would guide me through the rest of my life. That was 40 years ago, and I can still see the combination of five English setters and pointers locked up on the edge of that field. Walking in on that first point was a blur of wings, sights, sounds and pure exhilaration. I am sure I shot in self-defense, and I don’t remember the first quail I bagged, nor the first woodcock or grouse. But I have points and birds from 40 years of upland hunting scattered throughout my memory. I cannot remember what I went to the grocery store for on a normal day, but I can see a woodcock I bagged over an old setter when I was about 12, just like it was yesterday. From the UP of Michigan to Louisiana, the “Little Russet Feller” has haunted me ever since. When my son bagged his first using the same gun on which I learned, he jumped up and down with excitement. He was hooked, and I was delighted.[Read more…] about WHY WE HUNT, Member Stephen Faust