In last month’s column, we reported on grouse hunting trips to Ontario, Canada and Northern New Hampshire. This month, we’ll report on trips to New Brunswick, Canada, and The North Maine Woods.
On October 17th, we (Susan, I and four dogs) departed New Hampshire for New Brunswick. Legendary New Brunswick salmon and woodcock guide, Jason Curtis, had invited us to hunt with him for three days. From Southern, NH, it was about an eight hour drive to Upper Blackville, New Brunswick. It was a beautiful drive with bright autumn colors. Jason met us in his driveway and then took us to our cabin at Country Haven Lodge. By the way, this was most likely the nicest cabin we’ve ever stayed in.
We woke up the next day to light snow and a bitter cold wind. Not an ideal day for upland hunting. Jason and his family are life-long residents of the Miramichi Valley area. He has scouted up to sixty miles in almost every direction. His bird coverts are excellent. Many are easy to walk and they hold birds. Despite the poor weather, our first day gave us good dog work and numerous flushes.
Of our three day hunt, the weather for the second day was the best. The dogs and the hunters enjoyed sunny skies with just enough breeze for good scenting. Combining grouse and woodcock, we had about 40 flushes, had excellent dog work, and killed some birds to reward the dogs. It was truly a classical day in the uplands. The wind returned on the third day, however, we still had over 20 woodcock flushes with some very nice dog work.
A high point of day three was some decent dog work from Susan’s young male shorthair, Blaze. Blaze is 1 ½ years old and was still thinking you need to chase birds rather than point them. However, he finished the day with a solid woodcock point. Susan rewarded him with a clean shot and Blaze responded with a fine retrieve. It’s very exciting when your pup connects all the dots.
Jason Curtis is a true professional. He is knowledgeable, a dog man and an enjoyable person to be with. You can contact Jason through email: email@example.com.
On the morning of October 21st, we packed the truck and headed northwest toward Maine. Although I’ve been hunting and fishing in New Brunswick since 1971, I’ve never been on what locals call the Plaster Rock Road. It’s Route 108 and goes from Renous to Plaster Rock. This road is 100 miles of forest. No telephone poles, no rest area, no pull-offs…no nothing except forest and rivers. If you ever have the opportunity to travel this road, please do. Make sure, however, you start with a full tank of gas.
We crossed the border into Maine at Perth-Andover, then to Caribou, to Fort Kent and to Allagash; the Northern gateway to the North Maine Woods. Where New Brunswick was 90% woodcock hunting, Allagash is 90% ruffed grouse hunting. There is no question that ruffed grouse numbers were up this year. I don’t have enough space to detail every day of hunting, however, we’ll cover the highpoints.
Our best day for grouse flushes (23), with dog work, was the first. We were helped a bit by a moose hunter who told us where he flushed a brood while looking for moose sign. He thought there were about eight birds in the brood. The dogs worked that area hard and came up with four finds. We returned to that spot a couple of days later and again the dogs found birds.
Susan and I don’t use a flush counter; however, we’re guessing we had about 80 grouse flushes for the six day hunt. Our slowest day was the day we chose to search for new grouse cover. We spent most of the day driving rather than brush busting. Dedicating a day to searching for new cover always pays off. This year we found a remote road with beautiful cover and not a sign of any other hunters. We’re very excited about working this cover next year.
The highpoint of our bird season was the maturing of our young dogs. It takes birds to make a bird dog and we showed them birds. Our dog lineup should serve us well for many years.
Copyright 2019 Paul Fuller