Opportunity is all you can ask for. In the western US we are surrounded by it, public land abounds. To live within a half an hour of some incredible country to pursue grouse is the definition of a great opportunity. However opportunity does not equal success. It means they are present. Additionally opportunity does not mean good odds, but it does mean there is a chance. They don’t exist in high numbers here, quite the contrary there aren’t very many. This is not a spot where people travel across the country to hunt. But there is opportunity.
The story of the year is good spots, no grouse. I can’t blame it on the dog, she has ran well every outing. Some of it is my fault, not knowing the best zones. Probably ignored the dog once or twice when she was on the birds. Mainly though it has been a case of not quite. We haven’t put in the years or miles necessary to understand these secretive birds. Just like many days spent casting and not catching when I started out fly fishing. This is no different, a first time grouse hunter and first time owner of a pointing dog leads to a lot of errors. But we are enjoying the errors. When a bad day out is a few miles of walking in some fine country is that an error? Or a step in the right direction? I lean towards the latter.
The dog is well over 50 miles in this season and I’m some fraction less than half of that. She is running well and covering ground. Finding birds and bones, just not the ones we are looking for. I know there’s a grouse out there waiting for us to find it. Until then we will keep covering ground and walking uphill. Looking for things the only way you can in the woods, by covering more ground. Success is such a fickle word. Were we unsuccessful in our pursuit? I don’t think so. Good country was covered, a fine walk was had, our stomachs were full of good food and the truck bed was weighed down by a load of fir and aspen on the drive home.