Perfection. When it comes to the outdoor sports that I partake in, I’m not sure if I can tell you in advance what perfection is, but I sure can tell you when it happens. Seldom are there perfect days, but rather moments scattered throughout the season. These are the moments we all look for in our hunting and fishing. Not the days where we catch a ton of fish, or shoot a bunch of birds, but the few perfect moments within the days are the ones we remember.
The last one of these perfect moments for me was the last grouse hunt of 2013. Woof and I left camp at about one o’clock in the afternoon, drove a short distance and got out of the SUV. This was a grouse covert I hadn’t yet hunted this year. I “dressed” Woof with his collar and vest, then donned my own gear. This is a tough place to hunt. The leaves were down most everywhere, but this spot is thick with “Burr Oak” they hold their leaves until the new leaves of spring push the old out.
We started out by walking the trail that leads into the Burr Oak and Hazel Brush thickets. I thought by staying on the trail, this would improve my chances of connecting on a shot should we put one up. Woof got “birdy” a couple of times, but nothing. After working our way about two thirds around the loop I decided to cut through the middle, back towards the SUV.
After about 15 minutes of fighting through some of the thickest, nastiest underbrush Northern Wisconsin has to offer, there it was…………….a rock solid point. Woof was about 30 yards from me at the edge of a small meadow. The path to him was obstructed with more Hazel Brush and Burr Oak. Woof held point for the several minutes it took me to fight through the tangles, the Hazel Brush’s branches were intertwined as if they had intentions of holding me back. It had taken me so long to get there, I was almost certain that Woof was pointing one of the last remaining Woodcock left before its migration south, surely no self respecting grouse would have held this long.
I stood for a moment and surveyed the situation. The dog was steady and sure. I was not. I took another step and there it was! A single grouse erupted from between me and Woof and, uncharacteristically, flew out through the small meadow.
I swung on the bird, pulled the trigger and watched it tumble to the ground. I gave Woof the OK and off he went. A few moments later he presented me with my prize. PERFECT. I unloaded the shotgun, threw it over my shoulder and Woof and I walked back to where we parked, got in the SUV and drove back to Camp. Grouse for dinner tonight! We arrived at camp slightly over an hour from when we left.
As I cleaned my bird, I couldn’t help but feel lucky. Not so much for getting a bird, but for the understanding of what happened. Dog, hunter, Grouse, conditions, they all lined up to provide a moment in time that I will never forget.
The great thing about outdoor pursuits is that we are allowed to define our own perfection. We do not need to hold ourselves accountable to anyone else’s standards. I have long thought that the amount of fun you have, the enjoyment you take out of theses pursuits are the sole parameter by which success should be judged.
Have a perfect day!