Saturday, February 18, 2012

Grousing instead of Trouting

Yesterday was another fishable day over in New York.  The Batten Kill was running a little high, but it was a doable deal:

That's the good news.  The bad news is that after I got all wadered up and took a few steps and casts into the river, I realized that I just wasn't into the swing of it (all puns intended, as usual).  Hmmm, what to do?

Earlier in the morning, I had been emailing with a "forum friend", artist Bill Elliott, who I met through the Nova Scotia salmon fishing forum ( about ruffed grouse.

It's been two seasons since I stepped foot into a grouse covert due to those oft-mentioned pesky surgeries.  It was mid-morning, mid-40's temp and I was pretty handy to about 8,000 acres of New York State public land (those of you that don't know New has an awesome amount of public hunting land for a state of its size and human population).   So, street shoes, legs in horrible shape and all, I decided to go for a walk up into the woods, in search of a grouse.  

I started up following a little brook, all very grousey:

The sun was out.  I liked the way it lit up the water droplets hanging from the multiflora rose:

No grouse yet, but up on top of the ridge, the view was pretty darn good, big dairy farm in the distance (and still in grouse cover):

Hmmmm, I'm not the only one that's been up here looking for grouse:

When I was doing graduate research on ruffed grouse on public lands, I used to quantify (to myself, not the university) grouse coverts by what I called the "shot shell quotient".   The better the covert, the more shells littering the ground.  I picked up buckets full of them over the years.  Still do.  Do you pick up yours?

Ah, finally, a grouse!  OK, what's left of one:

Hard life that, being a grouse.  Everybody wants to eat you.  Including me.  Grouse sauteed in white wine, mushrooms and scallions.  Yum. 

But, legs starting to let me know they haven't gone walking for more than a year, time to head back down.  Followed another little brook back down.  These brooks all end up in the Batten Kill.

It was a fine walk.   Far too long since I've enjoyed the smells and sights of a grouse woods.  I'll be back; maybe tuned up for a longer stay.


  1. I love this, Gary, You the old grouse man. The last time I hunted 'em, may partner died in my arms deep down in a frozen gulch. Which was not the reason that it was my last hunt.
    gordon wickstrom

  2. Gary,
    What a wonderful story to break up a Saturday in February. I could imagine the smell of the woods from your description.

    I would not miss your blogs for anything!

    Doug Anderson

  3. I flushed one grouse here in PA this January. Never even actually saw it...but you know that sound they make when they flush. It keeps you coming back. Keep up the good work GT.

  4. Just going for a nice walk in the woods. Miss the northeast! Enjoy, Chris & Don

  5. I've been on many grouse walks with you my bird dogless I too miss those covers...but thankfully the memories well...your friend from Maine