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Opening Week: Chasing the Elusive

A lesson learned here at home and in the Northwoods...

I can't help but reflect on the lessons learned during this week of hunting. It all began on a crisp Monday morning, the much-anticipated opening day of hunting season. I settled into my tree stand, a location I'd scouted loosely for weeks but a massive rub and a fresh scrape promised deer sightings, nope, they remained elusive.

Disheartened, on my way back, I stumbled upon two pheasant roosters that dashed into the woods. The fire to chase them was lit, so I hurried home, grabbed Dallas, my trusty dog, and managed to squeeze in a bit of work, photographing two listings, before heading back to the same field. Hours passed, and despite Dallas's brilliant work, we returned empty-handed. But I was immensely proud of her. Catching scent cones and slow understanding of this takes teamwork between me and her.

Tuesday brought a new adventure as I journeyed to the Northwoods, right along the Canadian border. The day began at 4 am, and after 4.5 hours of driving, we were ready to explore the rich and diverse habitat for woodcock and grouse.

Wednesday, the hunt continued. Zach and his father, Dave, joined with their loyal hunting companion, Jack, for a pheasant hunt in Bernardston, a farm and pheasant-stocking area. After nearly coming up empty-handed, Jack finally flushed a pheasant, which took flight across the river onto private land.

Fueled by determination and a belief in responsible hunting, Zach handed his gun to his father and said, "I'll flush it back your way. Wait here; I think it's behind that bush on the bank." Armed only with Jack, we cornered the pheasant and he decided to make a dash for it. Just when he thought he had it in my grasp, it slipped away and, of course, flushed in the wrong direction.

Venturing into the North Woods after assisting Charlene, the owner of Bentley Brook Retrievers, in shaping up around her cabin. We got into the right places at the right times for a total of 20 grouse flushed, often referred to as partridge by seasoned hunters, along with 2-3 woodcocks. These birds are the epitome of speed, elusiveness, and cunning. We mainly ran her Red Irish Setter, a graceful and silent hunting companion, like poetry, and My girl Dallas who leaned more into the brut force method.

Grouse, often dubbed the 'king of the woods,' erupts into a heart-pounding flutter, echoing the chest-thumping calls of their spring mating rituals. They take off right at your feet, vanishing into the distance within seconds. These birds are masters of confusion, jolting you into a guessing game, making every shot a split-second decision.

Woodcocks, on the other hand, dodge gracefully while serenading the forest with their fluttering whistles. Their uncanny ability to evade capture leaves you wondering whether it's pure luck or sheer intelligence. Throughout this hunting adventure, my red lab, Dallas, a flushing lab, reveled in the thrill of the hunt.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on bagging any birds, the camaraderie, sportsmanship, and the year-round training invested to seize such opportunities made the journey all the more rewarding. In the end, it's not just about the harvest; it's about the passion, the bonds formed, and the indomitable spirit of the hunt that keeps us coming back for more.

As I recount these experiences, I realize that each day in the wilderness has taught us something valuable. The unpredictability of nature, the bond between a hunter and their faithful dog, the camaraderie among friends and family, and the importance of respecting the land and wildlife. It's not just about the kill; it's about the journey, the memories, and the lessons we carry with us through the untamed wilderness.

Deer Hunting season is fully upon us. It’s about time. It takes some time settling back into the woods. One decision or reaction can make or break your hunt.

It’s important to refresh the memory as we head back into the woods, learn more at

We all love a good tree climb in the morning before first light. Navigating our way in and out the stand is crucial for the best success out there.

Be prepared and ready to go by learning more at

You’re next Pheasant Hunt location is waiting for you.

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