Brute’s Bleat November 11, 2015

Last week was a combination of good news and bad news! Under bad news I missed a golden oportunity to harvest a rooster Tuesday west of Litchfield hunting alone. On Wednesday I decided to go grouse hunting before the deer hunters took to the woods on Saturday. I should have checked the weather more closely, but I thought I would drive out of the drizzle by heading north to Blackduck or Northhome. I checked into a motel in Northhome and the proprietor commented he saw a covey of three while cutting wood for his outdoor furnance. That was good news, but the drizzle was still coming down. Vanna and I got in a couple hours of hunting on the Porter Ridge trail, saw three grouse, shot at one and missed. We slept in the next morning with the rain pattering on the roof. The rain would come in squalls and we finally ventured out about 9 a.m. and talked with a gas station owner who said there was a good grouse population earlier, but extensive hunting and ATVs had thinned them out. A local duck hunter said he had been out in his canoe and there were lots of ducks, but also lots of thunder and lightning and he didn’t want to stand up and be an antenna, consequently no ducks. Gasoline was $2.32.9. We headed for Gemmell planning to hunt in the Pine Island State Forest. On the way we noticed a good dozen or so eagles perched in trees along Hwy. 71. I suspect there was a road kill of something in the ditch as the attraction and silently wondered what kind of effect the huge birds were having on the ruffed grouse population. After driving forest roads in the drizzle, it finally let up and we were hoofing it by 11 a.m. We saw more deer (7) than grouse (3) and we had a golden opportunity when Vanna pointed one off the trail in the brush. It flew up and landed in a tree further in the woods. About the time I was going to shoot, it flew coming over the trail and I missed it twice, more bad news! Of the seven deer I saw, most were does and fawns, but this young buck accommodated me while I was taking its picture through the windshield. He didn’t seem to mind my intrusion and almost posed for his picture. I hope he made it through the opening weekend of the rifle deer season.
The rains came again and I decided to head south of Bemidji to the Paul Bunyan Forest to finish up the day. It wasn’t raining there, but we didn’t flush any grouse either and headed home about dusk. The warm weather we’ve been enjoying apparently was also enjoyed by the wood ticks and I got nailed by one of those small brown ones that could carry Lyme disease so I’m taking antibiotics. So deer hunters, beware!
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I teamed up with Daryl Hennen on Sunday for a run southwest to hunt pheasants which is part of the good news! We enjoyed breakfast at Tillie’s in Granite Falls and hunted southwest hoping to find some birds. That didn’t happen until we were below Clarkfield where we hunted milo in a WMA. Vanna put up a rooster in the milo which I was lucky enough to harvest in the 20+ mph wind. We continued working our way southwest and began seeing more birds, mostly hens. We hunted a WMA late in the afternoon and Vanna put up two roosters in a tree line. Daryl saw the first one flush out of range, but I harvested the second one on my second shot and had my first 2-bird limit of the season. Daryl helped me find the bird which was dead in the grass. We hunted one more WPA and saw more hens flush than we had seen all day, as well as several roosters which jumped way ahead of the dogs. Seeing all of those hens bodes well for next year’s numbers which is more of the good news!

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