Hazel and I enjoying another day afield
I was blessed with another day of chasing grouse across the Utah mountain-tops. I can't get enough of this. So far it's been a fun yea and this years hatch seems to have been a good one, at least for the Blues in the area's I've hunted.

I invited my friend Jeff to come along and I believe I've sold him on how fun hunting grouse with dogs can be. He was surprised at what strong fliers the grouse are and the distances they can travel after they flush. We had a blast and it was nice to get to know him better. He's a great guy and we had a good time hunting and just B.S.ing about work, life, family and such. We put on a lot of miles but I think he'd agree that in the end it was all well worth it. 

We bagged a few and missed a few but overall it was a very enjoyable, relaxing day in the woods. We saw some deer elk and a couple moose. One moose was quite impressive. I love seeing those big, majestic animals and appreciate the sheer size of them.  Moose are just cool.... from a distance.

Another Bird in the Bag
The dogs did well. That's becoming the norm. They have their moments but both dogs are talented. I used to worry about what others thought of my dogs and get embarrassed when they screwed up. It doesn't seem to happen much now days. Maybe after all these years of hunting I just don't care anymore. At this point they are what they are just like I am what I am. With a better trainer I know they both could be amazing but I do what I can do and hunt them as much as I can. Chief busted a covey of blues right off the bat but he soon recovered, he calmed down and gave us some great points and good opportunities on the singles from the initial flush. Hazel batted cleanup and did all the closer work and handled most of the retrieving duties for the day. She even backed Chief a couple of times (rare and not a natural ability for her, she's a bird-thief at heart).

I love starting the year on grouse. Blues are perfect for dusting out the upland hunting cobwebs. Start the season out on Blues and once the weather gets colder move to habitat that holds Ruffed Grouse and before you know it it's Chukar season and Pheasant season for a couple weeks and then back to Chukars to finish the year. If your lucky you have opportunities to hit some other species intermittently throughout the different seasons. It's a good progression and it makes sense throughout the year.

The only downer we had was at the very end of the day when we were just coming up on the truck. Chief found a dead elk or deer and decided to perfume himself with the musk. His white hide was yellow with funk and he smelled like death. In my truck I had some horse mane conditioner that I use to aid in sticker removal so I dowsed him with it and dumped the rest of the drinking water we had over him and gave him a scrub with another rinse. Then I drove to a pond and made him go for a swim. He smelled much better but he wasn't happy with me. It's all good though, I think all is forgiven from both sides. It's a given…. dogs will always behave like dogs. 

Tired Boy
That night I had Chief up on the bench and was picking stickers out of his fur. He was so tired that he kept dozing off even while he was sitting up. I'd be brushing and working on him and I'd see his eyes start to shut and then he'd start to rock forward. I thought I might have to catch him so he didn't fall over. It was funny but at the same time I admire that boy. He gave everything he had in him that day. He worked for every covey, every single, every point, every cast. He ran and ran and ran with his nose high. The next day I was cleaning out my game vest in the back yard and had his full attention as I scraped out the feathers and sprayed out the blood. I went back inside and hung up my vest in the garage. He had noticed the vest in my hand when I went inside. He laid down on the lawn and started to howl and whine. I believe he thought I was going hunting again and he didn't want me to leave him behind. There is so much will to hunt in that dog. I had to go out and love on him to calm him down. He can't wait to go hunting again and I can't wait to take him. I love to watch him run and hunt. It's a sight to behold.

Jeff with a nice mature Dusky (blue) Grouse

Best of luck to everyone in the chase.


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