Grouse Hunting Recap 2021
After two weeks in Northern Maine, my wife and I pronounce the 2021 grouse/woodcock season as very good. We spent three days at Tim Pond Camps in Eustis, Maine and six days in the Allagash region of the North Maine Woods. Here’s our report.
It’s always a joy to visit Tim Pond Camps in Eustis. Tim Pond Camps is exactly what we think an oldtime Maine sporting camp should be. Accommodations are clean and comfortable and food outstanding. The other element are birds and there were birds this year. We were at Tim Pond the week of October 10. A negative for bird hunting was that it was very warm during our visit. Birds weren’t moving. We had to get into the bush with the dogs to find birds. They were there in good numbers but it meant difficult shooting. The three days we hunted, we had eight grouse flushes in front of dog work the first day, eight the second day and six the third day. Those numbers only represent flushes in front of dog work and not the total birds we saw or wild flushed.
Something interesting for Susan and me was that when weather is warm and birds aren’t moving, we usually hunt low. And, we felt we were correct in doing so. However, two hunters in camp consistently hunted high and consistently came back to camp each evening with multiple grouse and woodcock kills. They were hunting whippets while we were hunting heavy pine cover. This supports the old dictum: Birds are where you find them.
A high point at Tim Pond Camps was while Susan and I chose to hunt typical grouse habitat, hunters that concentrated more on woodcock habitat did very well. We heard reports of 15 to 25 woodcock flushes per day. Great sport with a pointing dog.
The week of October 17 found us traveling North to the Allagash area of Northern Maine. This was our seventh consecutive trip to the Northern tip of Maine. From this location, we hunt only the North Maine Woods (NMW). The North Maine Woods is a 3 1/2 million-acre section of Maine which is owned by several paper companies. Since paper companies only make money by cutting mature forests, there is always new growth in the North Maine Woods. And, new growth is important to both grouse and woodcock.
However, they who give, also taketh away. Our first morning (October 18), we traveled 50 minutes to our favorite grouse road. Every year we harvest several grouse off this old road. It’s always been our “go to” grouse covert. When we approached the road, I was immediately suspicious when I saw heavy truck tracks in the road. We had never see a logging truck on this road. We only went about 200 yards when we met a huge logging truck full of freshly cut logs. There was no way my truck and the logging truck could pass each other on this remote road. So, we backed up until we came to a small turnout. The logging truck driver came down from his cab and came to our truck. He was very nice but warned us that there were several logging trucks behind him. He strongly suggested we not attempt driving up the road. With much disappointment, we left to search for a new favorite road.
Being so large, it’s not hard to find new roads to hunt in the NMW. However, not all of them have the combination of soft woods and hard woods that grouse favor. We didn’t find a road comparable to our old “favorite”, however, we did find two roads which produced grouse. We ended up with eight grouse flushes in front of dog work. We were happy with that.
Our second day, we traveled North through the NMW Little Black Gate to coverts we have had success with in the past. They produced the same as the coverts in day one. We had eight grouse flushes in front of dog work. “In front of dog work” means that there was dog work involved in the flush. It might mean a perfect point and walk-up flush or tracking and then a flush. Our counts do not include road birds. Speaking of road birds, although bird contacts by the dogs in cover was fairly consistent with last year’s numbers, road bird numbers were definitely down from last year. Not sure if many of the road birds (often first year birds) had been shot or simply road and hunting pressure kept the birds in the cover. Our third and fourth day of hunting were very warm. The birds weren’t moving. We were happy to get four or five bird flushes in front of dog work. The birds were in the deep dark cover. However, things changed quickly on the fourth and fifth day. At 4:00 pm on Saturday, Susan finished with a five bird flush over her ten year old GSP, Dena.
Overall, another great grouse season for Susan, the dogs and me.
Copyright 2021 Paul Fuller