Sunday, September 18, 2011

Good Year For The Blues

Most of Montana had a wet, extremely wet, spring. As a bird hunter, we worry about the spring hatch as much as we worry about getting water in our basement. One thing I am learning is that the spring weather on the low ground, the stuff that adversely effects grouse, partridge and pheasants, may not be as detrimental to the mountain grouse populations.
In fact, we have seen some very nice broods this fall and a lot of them. It doesn't seem to matter what mountain range we hunt, what the weather is that day or what our horoscopes say; this is shaping up to be one of the best falls for chasing blue grouse up high.
But, there is one caveat to keep in mind before grabbing the shotgun and heading up in the hills: You will need to hunt hard and hunt high. Most of our birds have been above 7,000 feet and our daily jaunts have been pushing 10-12 miles.
As a result of the good fortunes up high, I have delayed most of my trips locally to look for Huns and sharptail. Those birds can wait, however. By late September, planning any trips to hunt blue grouse can get dicey. Snow comes early to the high country, making travel and hiking more difficult, if not impossible. Then, it is prairie birds or nothing. Let's hope they had a better-than-expected hatch too.