Mac and Peter are repeat Linehan Outfitting Company guests and have been hunting grouse with me each year here in northwest Montana for last five seasons. They’re very safe, inherently understand how to stay in line while moving through cover, and we always have fun. On this particular morning my setter Maisy was hunting well and moving through an alder bottom about thirty yards away when she slowed, flash pointed, repositioned, and then went steady. “Got a point here, guys!” I hollered. Peter was close and circled in behind Maisy while hollering for Mac to join us. “Mac, over here.”
“I’m right here.” To my complete surprise, Mac answered from in front of me by about fifty yards.
”No shot, Peter! No shot!” I called. Turns out Mac was off-line so Peter and I enjoyed Maisy’s point, flushed the bird and let it fly without a shot.
I use this anecdote to point out the simple fact that obviously the safe thing to do in any situation like this is not shoot. Ruffed grouse hunting takes place in thick cover. It’s imperative that you stay in close contact with your hunting partners and know their location every second of the hunt. In order to help better accomplish this you have to remember to ignore the topography in a manner of speaking.
It’s easy to get thrown off line if you let the topograpy dictate your movement. Essentially this means you have to stay in a straight line regardless of the terrain. If you encounter a small bump or hill, go straight up and down the other side. Do not deviate from the desired direction you and your hunting partners have chosen. Ever. Only change direction if you and your partners are in total communication and everyone knows a turn has been made.
To avoid the hazard of getting thrown off line while hunting ruffed grouse keep in mind that direction and topography are two very different things and that holding a straight line is imperative to safety of the hunt.
Maisy locked up on a tight ruffed grouse
Perhaps one of the most satifying bucks of the season! This stud came to a rattle. He was pretty active and I could not get him to stop so Joanne could get a shot. Grunts kept him interested for a few moments but then he slipped into the thick stuff and we thought that was the end. But when I hit the call and gave a snort-wheeze challenge, he could not resist and clearly thought another buck was in his area. He came out again about 75 yards in front of the stand and Joanne was quick and decisive with a single shot. Turns out he was the largest animal to hang on the game pole this season and likely topped 250 on the hoof and was at least 51/2 years old.
Joanne’s bruiser buck
Linehan Outfitting Company guide Sean McAfee and guest Brad S. from Tacoma, WA with a nice buck. Knowing the only opportunity for a shot was if the buck decided to cross the creek Sean had Brad scope down the creek corridor and wait. Sure enough, 200 yards upstream the buck stepped out of the alders and into the creek and Brad was ready, steady and accurate. Good job guys!
Stay tuned for more Linehan Outfitting Company trophy whitetail buck success stories from this season.
LOC guide Sean McAfee and guest Brad S. with a great buck.
John and Kathy B. with Willie, Hank, and Gus
The average flushes per hour bumped up significantly over the past few days mostly due to changing conditions. Crisp, cold mornings and daytime temps in the 50′s have leaves falling fast. Alder thickets are now much more penetrable both by dogs and hunters and birds are beginning to concentrate in huge patches of snowberries and rose hips. The new running flushes per hour is now around 2-2.5 and action has been steady.
The weather is still perfect for grouse hunting here in the northwest corner of Montana. Conditions have improved a great deal over the last week what with foliage thinning and ground cover knocked down a bit by recent frosts. Morning temps have been around 20 degrees with afternoons in the middle 60′s and partly sunny. Perfect conditions day after day. The seven day outlook is the same. Flushes per hour remains fixed right around 1.5-2. Not a banner year but steady action if you’re willing to put in the time.
LOC working girls getting a much needed day off.
The average of 1.5-2 flushes per hour is holding steady here in the far northwest corner of Montana. Conditions are great with morning temps in the high 30′s and afternoons in the high 60′s. Leaves are starting to fall and the foliage is thinning making for more visible birds and better shots. Weather is predicted to remain steady and generally very nice. Today little miss Maisy had three solid points in the morning and Gracie flushed and retrieved two birds late this afternoon. All in all good conditions and we’re finding birds here at Linehan Outfitting Company.
Mike, Troy, Trey and Gracie with a brace of grouse
Grouse hunters here LOC in the northhwest corner of Montana are having a pretty solid season. It was another September blue bird day with morning temps in the high 30′s and afternoon temps in the high 60′s. Perfect grouse hunting conditions. A heavy due this morning helped scenting conditions dramatically and LOC working girls Maisy and Gracie responded. Cool, moist ground allowed them to hunt harder, stay focused longer, and find more birds! We’re expecting more of the same kind of weather and conditions tomorrow. Guest Allen B. made a fine shot this afternoon and Gracie made a long, impressive retrieve.
Linehan Outfitting Company's working girl Gracie
The birds were moving today and the average flushes per hour increased a bit. With temps in the high 60′s, clear skies, and a bit of haze, conditions were perfect in the woods here at Linehan Outfitting Company. Little miss Maisy the setter had a great morning with four solid points. One of which had her nose just a few feet from perfect male spruce grouse. Gracie the retriever had the big day however and flushed nine ruffed at close range this afternoon. She’s a seasoned veteran at five years old and when her bell slows down and changes tone, it’s a given that there’s a bird nearby.
LOC guest Allen B. and Maisy on point
Yet another great day in the woods kicking up trouble. Three solid points from Maisy our setter and two solid retrieves from Gracie our Golden retriever. Both girls in super shape and hunting well for LOC guests. Thirteen flushes for the day and four birds down keeping the daily average at about 1.5 flushes for hour. We did spend some time in the high country hunting blues and mananged to get one shot but never touched feather. All in all it’s looking like it’s not a banner year for birds but we’re gettting plenty of action by busting the brush.
LOC Bird Hunting guests Carlisle W., Keith R., and Joe W with a handful of birds.
Great news to report from the far northwest corner of Montana! Populations of ruffed, spruce, and blue grouse apprear to be at least average and that means good numbers of birds for the dogs. Presently we’re averaging about 3-4 flushes per hour. It’s still pretty thick in the woods right now but birds are starting to spread out and young of the year are dispersing from hens making for more spread out action. Two year old Maisy the setter is coming along nicely and today she locked up solid on a bird that had evaded her for over 100 yards. I’m thrilled to report I walked in, flushed the bird, and knocked it down as it pealed away going right to left…not my strong side. Gracie, our five year old Golden Retriever is seasoned and hitting her stride. She finds them, flushes them, stays close, and is terrific to hunt with. All in all LOC is officially under way with our bird hunting program and it feels good to be in woods kicking up trouble.
Gracie, Maisy and Tim celebrate the hunt