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We were pleasantly surprised last Tuesday when we (Daryl Hennen and I plus Cocoa and Vanna) had six grouse flushes while hunting in Hubbard County. This is the down part of the grouses’ 10-year cycle and we weren’t expecting a whole lot. We picked some gated trails, courtesy of the DNR. By gated I mean trails that are meant for foot traffic only with a metal gate at their entrances with signs prohibiting ATVs and other motorized vehicles. Some of the trails we walked were groomed (mowed) to enhance clover growth for grouse. The first trail we walked wasn’t mowed, but it held the most grouse of those we hunted. Daryl made sure we didn’t come home skunked when he harvested one that flushed off the edge of the trail. Cocoa did her job and retrieved the bird in short order. Later a grouse flushed ahead of the dogs off of the trail. It surprised me and I didn’t react quickly enough to get a shot off. Hennen was fumbling for a water bottle to give Cocoa a drink which took him out of the opportunity. The trail had some lateral trails off to one side and Hennen took one which was supposed to reconnect further down the line. The trail I was on continued until it hit a river. Vanna gave me a great point as we got closer to the river and remained rigid while I walked up to her. She didn’t move a muscle as I walked ahead of her into the brush. When nothing flushed right away I figured it must be a Timberdoodle (Woodcock), a bird that holds much tighter than a grouse. I kept moving ahead of her, trying to keep open enough to get a shot off. When the bird flushed, it was a grouse which I got off two shots at, but missed with both. I reloaded and was chastising myself for missing when a second grouse flushed ahead of me. This one never got above the brush and about all I got was a glimpse and it battled its way through the brush. I didn’t shoot. About 10 minutes later I reconnected with Hennen and we decided to try to flush the second grouse which I hadn’t shot at and didn’t seem to have flown very far. Hennen and Cocoa flushed the grouse, but it again stayed low and there were a lot of leaves on the trees and brush and getting a shot off would have been difficult. We didn’t get any more shots, but we were pleased with what the dogs had put up. Besides the six grouse flushes, we spied one turkey in the road ditch and eight deer. A couple of them were in the brush, but the others were from the road while driving. Several were fawns and we didn’t see any with horns. We quit hunting about 4 p.m., which is too early, but all four of us were pretty well bushed. . . The Woodcock season opened Saturday which will add another dimension to fall hunting, especially when they begin migrating out of Canada and northern Minnesota. . . I was up at Parkers Prairie when it rained about an inch and a half Thursday, visiting my 91-year-old aunt, Maggie, who is living in a nursing home there. It started raining when I was near Melrose and continued until I got there. Not hard, but steady. I was impressed with the farm crops in that area which were still green for the most part as were the road ditches and lawns, which pretty much told me they have had more rain than around here. Maggie was a nurse with the army for much of her career and was a Colonel when she retired. Her nursing career overseas included two year stints in Europe and the Far East (Japan and Korea). She seems fairly healthy, except for dementia which is starting to take its hold on her mind. . .
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There was a lot of shooting Saturday morning when the duck season opened and from a few reports I came across there were a lot of ducks. Considering these are all local ducks, I’d say the hunters had a great morning. On Sunday the volume of shots was down, but there was enough blasting to indicate there were still a lot of birds in the area.
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Running out of bait is usually a good sign when it comes to fishing. That’s what happened to Michele and Ed Pawlenty when they were fishing on Sauk Lake at Sauk Center over the weekend. Michele said there were four of us fishing off the dock for Crappies. Besides getting Crappie limits Michele said she caught a Walleye on her minnow before they ran out of bait. I’d say that was good fishing! Actually that was a bonus for Ed and his son, Nick, from Duluth, who combined the opening weekend of duck hunting with fishing. They also did well in the duck department on the opener which made it a great weekend for them.
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