Maine Grouse Hunting
Best in 30 years! Bird behind every tree. Never seen so many birds. That’s a sample of what your writer was hearing beginning in late July and early August. However, I wasn’t ready to believe these comments until I personally visited the “North Country”.
On October 13th, Susan, the dogs and I headed north for a ten-day grouse and woodcock hunt. Our first stop was a four day hunt at Tim Pond Camps near Eustis, Maine. Tim Pond Camps are owned by Betty and Harvey Calden. Betty and Harvey are long-time friends. I had fished there about 25 years ago but never bird hunted. After settling into a clean and spacious cabin, we headed to the dining cabin. Reports from hunters already having hunted were very encouraging. Ruffed grouse were plentiful which made Susan and I very excited.
We had beautiful weather our first day. We had several points, flushes and misses. Susan was the exception. She shot a grouse on-the-wing over dog work from Dena, our grand dam of upland bird hunting. The second day was rain and more rain. My little four-year-old Cordie gave me some excellent work on grouse. Toward the end of the day, I flushed a bird in front of a point and thought I might have nicked the bird. Cordie and I searched but came up with nothing. Both Cordie and I were soaked, cold and it was getting dark. I called Cordie in and we went back to the truck. The road and truck were only about 30 yards from where we were. As I was wiping Cordie down with a towel, I began second guessing myself. I was sure I winged that grouse. I grabbed a flashlight and Cordie and headed back into the cover. The bird hunting gods were with us. We barely entered the area where I thought the bird would have dropped and Cordie gave me a point. I didn’t return with a shotgun…it was almost dark. I kicked around in front of the point with nothing happening. I gave Cordie her release command. She ran directly to a spot about 15 feet from her point and grabbed the bird. It was still alive and gave her enough scent to point. If it had been dead, we most likely would never have found the bird. Dead birds have very little, if any, scent. I told Cordie what a good girl she was and we then headed back to the truck…with flashlight, bird in hand and still soaked.
Our third day we had six inches of snow on the ground when we awoke in the morning. We hunted hard but the birds stayed in the thick conifers all day long. The fourth day it was windy but we had numerous flushes…some wild and some with dog work. We had a few shots but our lead made contact with only one bird. So, after four days of hunting, how would I judge all the early optimism for grouse numbers? I would say they were pretty accurate. Susan and I didn’t count total flushes, however, certainly the most we’ve ever had in four days. And, we had another six days ahead of us in Allagash. Regarding Allagash, we’ll report more on this trip in a future column.
A few more comments on Tim Pond Camps. These camps are truly in a wilderness setting. You access the camps through locked gates. There are over 4000 acres behind the locked gates. And, all of it is prime bird habitat. Plus, Tim Pond is known for native brook trout fishing. The cabins are clean and spacious and the food served is outstanding. If you would like more information, go to www.timpond.com. Also, be sure to look for our episode we filmed during our stay. It will be on www.youtube.com/birddogsafield or our website at www.birddogsafield.com.
Susan and I hope to meet you in the field someday.
Copyright 2020 Paul Fuller