Grouse Hunting

Looking back on it, I might have talked up Abbey too much, and I probably did not say one good thing about anybody else’s dog, and I did line up my nine empty shotgun shell hulls on the countertop between the kitchen and the main room and put a grouse feather in five of them and a woodcock feather in three of them and then held up the last one and said, “I know you guys are surprised that I missed a shot, but I’m a big enough man to admit I’m not perfect, and so I’m putting this one right up here with the rest.”
-From the novel  Hunting Birds – The Lives and Legends of the Pine County Rod, Gun, Dog and Social Club

Grouse Hunting

Don’t get cocky about your bird hunting, because as soon as you do something bad is going to happen. You will get into a shooting slump and miss ten or a dozen shoots in a row at easy birds that your dog has pointed and held for you, and you will have to take a lot of ragging from your hunting buddies about what a sorry-assed shooter you are. Or you will fall and twist your knee and be out of action for a week, or the firing pin will break in your best shotgun.

That’s if you’re lucky.

If you’re unlucky, it will be a lot worse than that, like the transmission on your pickup will go out, or your dog will catch a porcupine, or you will fall in the creek on a cold day when you are three or four miles from your truck. Or you will get arrested and put in jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, which is what happened to me on Saturday night.

That’s why I never should have bragged about the great day of bird hunting that me and Abbey had at Pine County Conservation Unit No. 2 on Friday, even if I did shoot three woodcock and five grouse, which is a full limit of both, and every one of them was over a perfect point by Abbey, and I killed those eight birds with just nine shots, and of course she retrieved every one of them right to hand. And the best thing was that either Lyle or Wilson or Pres or Howard was right there close to see every point and flush and shot and retrieve.

So who wouldn’t brag about a day like that?

It all come back on me, though, because nobody would hunt with me Saturday due to the fact that I laid it on a little thick all Friday night at the cabin after I had a few beers to celebrate. Looking back on it, I might have talked up Abbey too much, and I probably did not say one good thing about anybody else’s dog, and I did line up my nine empty shotgun shell hulls on the countertop between the kitchen and the main room and put a grouse feather in five of them and a woodcock feather in three of them and then held up the last one and said, “I know you guys are surprised that I missed a shot, but I’m a big enough man to admit I’m not perfect, and so I’m putting this one right up here with the rest.”

Come Saturday morning, Wilson and Lyle said they were going up to do the Moose Lake hunt, and Pres and Howard said they were going west to do the Blueberry Hill hunt, and when I asked, “Where should I go this morning?” Wilson said, “Why don’t you take your perfect dog and your perfect shooting and go on a perfect hunt with your perfect f@#*ing self?” Which I did do, and that was up in the Nemadji State Forest northeast of Hinckley, but I had about the worst day of hunting that I can ever remember.

First of all, it’s a long drive just to get to the Nemadji, and then it is a long walk back to any of the bird coverts, and Abbey was running crazy and not finding many birds and bumping about half the ones she did find, and with all of her antics going on I got rattled and missed four shots at grouse and two at woodcock. Also I fell down crossing Two Mile Slough and got my pants soaking wet and the right lens of my sunglasses popped out and went into the water and I never found it, and somewhere along the way the band of my wristwatch must have broke because I lost the watch. Then Abbey decided it would be a good idea to roll in what was left of a dead deer.

So I was real sorry I did all that bragging the night before, I can assure you.

From Chapter 15, “Hunting Grouse,” from the novel Hunting Birds – The Lives and Legends of the Pine County Rod, Gun, Dog and Social Club, by Jerry Johnson, available as a Kindle book from Amazon.com

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About Jerry Johnson

Curmudgeon. Bird hunter and dog trainer; indifferent wing shot. Retired journalist and college public relations director. Novelist and short story writer. Freeholder: 50-acre farm with 130-year-old log house. Husband, father, grandfather. Retired teacher, coach, mentor. Vicious editor. Blogger.
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