By Matt Soberg, RGS & AWS Editor & Director of Communications
Now is your window to help RGS & AWS create healthy forests and increase the voice for the future of grouse and woodcock – New member drive ends April 1!
I was flying to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Ruffed Grouse Society headquarters, watching a movie on my smartphone through the GoGo entertainment app offered by Delta, when I heard a character say, “Give me a window, that’s all I need.”
I hit pause. That statement hit home to me for some reason, probably the positivity and determination in its message, and caused a moment of reflection. Does that ever happen to you?
I took a moment to send myself an email with just that statement thinking it may be a good article idea someday. The statement hit me, but the context of the character and the specific movie did not, although I believe the character was referring to taking advantage of chance to create an opportunity.
This happened months ago, but for some reason I remembered the “window” statement in the middle of the night, 2:31 a.m. to be exact as my notes reflect. Similar to emailing myself ideas mid-flight, I keep a notepad next to the bed for just these moments. If I try to remember them, these brilliant midnight ideas (tongue in cheek), they are gone the next morning.
The fall hunting season was fast approaching, and I woke up at said time sweating and stressed out about how short the hunting season is and how much we had to get done during that short “window”. It caused me to think about taking advantage of chances and creating an opportunity in the short season we have. I started typing on my laptop the next morning.
Here were the first two midnight “window” thoughts I had, one humorously literal, and the other figuratively important:
The day was opening Saturday of the 2017 Minnesota grouse opener. The place was Central Minnesota, and I was with a good hunting buddy, his bird dog and one of mine. The weather was low 60s, and we were amped to brave the green jungle of early season leaves.
We had scouted a new area, one ripe with a large, young rectangular stand of aspen probably cut around eight or so years ago. The stand was surrounded by a healthy diversity of other forest types all around, hidden from the roadside.
We hunted the edge of the stand, pointed and flushed many woodcock, although they were not yet in season. Still fun though. The grouse were hard to come by with two flushes and neither bird viewed through the naked eye.
We made one last loop and were only about 200 yards from the truck where we’d drink some coffee, check the maps and find the next spot.
I called my young setter by name as we approached the vehicle, and he first swerved near my hunting buddy who immediately hunched over, hand over nose and mouth, in disgust. “What in the he## is that smell?” My setter next neared my location, and I could see, and smell, he had rolled in a carcass, a disgustingly rotten carcass at that. I too hunched and covered nose and mouth, and my buddy laughed and laughed and laughed.
For all you numbers folks out there, here is how my opening day went: 12 grouse flushes. umpteen woodcock flushes, 1 hunting buddy, 3 birddogs, 1 dog rolling in rotting carcass, umpteen expletives, 1 hunting buddy uncontrollably laughing, 4 windows rolled down from the rancid smell, 1 lake to wash dog which didn’t work, umpteen more expletives, and 1 hunting buddy still laughing.
As we drove home, the smell forced me to think, “Give me a window, that’s all I need.”
My other more figurative midnight thought was about the Ruffed Grouse Society membership and how we move the needle. How do we increase the voice for habitat, grouse, woodcock and hunting so that future generations of upland hunters experience these fine seasons as we do?
My personal feeling is that if you hunt grouse and woodcock, you should give back to the resource, whether you receive an incentive or not. The Ruffed Grouse Society is the leader in forest management, the only organization grouping and energizing grouse hunters and forest conservationists across the grouse and woodcock range. The Ruffed Grouse Society is keeping a pulse on forest conservation and upland hunting legislation and policy and the force influencing positive change.
The overwhelming majority of those reading this column will have hunted grouse or woodcock during our short window of our hunting season. Many of you will have hunted with others – Ask yourself and then ask your hunting buddies if they are members. Ask if they are giving back to the resource we need and love. Imagine what we could do if each one of us recruited one new member to the Ruffed Grouse Society – we’d double membership, increase the voice for hunting and habitat and create that much stronger of a foundation for the future.
The unbelievable promotional deal of our current Ruffed Grouse Society new member drive is still in place – but only for a limited time! – Ends April 1, 2018 – where new members receive a logo’d blaze, meshback hat along with a graphic, long-sleeved T-shirt, both of which are quite popular, not to mention this award-winning magazine, may I say so myself (tongue in cheek). Only $35!
But current members can participate too, and I urge you to do so – it’s quite easy. First, if you recruit your hunting buddy by gifting a $35 membership, you, the current member, receive the shirt and hat. Now, that’s an easy way to give back to the resource. Second, if you are currently a Ruffed Grouse Society member, but not a member of the American Woodcock Society (or vice versa), you can receive the shirt and hat by joining the other organization too.
Before this promo runs out, recruit a hunting buddy to join the effort, ask a Ruffed Grouse Society biologist to manage your private forests, volunteer for a chapter habitat day on public land, go to a banquet, volunteer for the New Hunter Mentor Program or Women’s Intro to Wingshooting program or participate in the new member drive. Take a chance and create an opportunity.
As we all know, our window of opportunity is too short, but, “Give me a window, that’s all I need . . . to make a difference.”
Back to the opener and on the bright side, again for all the numbers folks, we had some good luck too: 2 shots fired, 1 grouse in the bag, 1 high-five, 1 shot of scotch at hunt’s end (ok, maybe two), and despite the rancid dog, we had 1 toast to grouse and good times, and 1 plan to do it all over again.
Give me a window, that’s all I need . . .
**First published as the Editor Note from the Winter 2017 Issue of Ruffed Grouse Society magazine.
To join the effort, go to www.ruffed.org