Sunday, January 13, 2013

Worst Hunter Ever

All I could think about as I looked at the small, empty hole in my shotgun was, 'Wow, I must be the worst hunter ever.' The hole was the former location of a pin that holds the trigger mechanism in place. It had been loose in the past, but I thought I had fixed the problem several months ago. Something must have shifted when I fired the gun.

Which brings me back to my original point. Worst hunter ever. The missing pin was the end of a morning of failure. I arrived early to camp and decided to go on a brief hunt before my friend Nick arrived. Following the instructions of the only neighbor in the area, I headed down a snowy two-track to a certain patch of woods where he had flushed grouse on a recent walk. It was cold, and I briefly put my trigger hand in my pocket. I swear grouse can sense when you are not ready. As if on cue, a grouse flushed from my left, crossing over the open space of the two track into the woods on the right.  I belatedly fired through the trees after the bird and predictably missed. What a golden opportunity! Quickly another grouse flushed, this time on the right, and flew through the trees without giving me a chance to shoot. Why am I always surprised by a second flush? I constantly remind myself that grouse flush in groups, but somehow I am never ready. Finally, a third grouse flushed from my left and flew down the two track behind me. This time I had a clear shot, but in the time it took for me to turn around and aim the bird had put considerable distance between us, and I missed again.

Wow. Not 100 yds down the trail and I had already flushed three grouse, shooting at and missing two of them. I hadn't even realized I was hunting yet until the first bird flew. Frustrated but encouraged, I found some grouse tracks and followed them to no avail before returning to camp as Nick and his father and brother arrived.

After regaling them with my story, getting the wood stove going, and generally setting up camp, we set off in a line through the woods. Wouldn't you know we never saw or heard any trace of a grouse for the rest of the day despite spending almost every daylight hour on the hunt - a far cry from the abundant activity of previous years when we heard flushes every 15 minutes, and grouse tracks were so numerous there was no point in following them.

To sum up: three grouse flushed and missed in the first five minutes, hours of walking through brush without even a trace of a grouse, and one broken gun. Sounds like a miserable day, but somehow I thoroughly enjoyed it. The northern Michigan woods is a beautiful landscape - one that I don't get the chance to experience much these days. Grouse hunting is really just hiking with a purpose. And I like hiking even without a purpose, particularly with friends. One day maybe I'll take hunting a little more seriously, but for now I'm satisfied with being the worst hunter ever. Besides, I managed to fix my gun for a whopping $7.

A big thanks to Nick and his family for inviting me to their camp again. I can honestly say that the camp and surrounding woods is one of my favorite places in the world.


  1. By the title I thought this post was about me haha

    Glad you still had fun though. Every once in a while I get the crazy urge to hunt deer in snow. Then I quickly remind myself that the deepest snow I've ever seen was about 1/2 an inch...In Pensacola haha

    1. Haha, yeah we probably had a good 10 inches lol