Monday, November 1, 2010
Bird Hunting Myth # 2
Gunnin' sage hens...nothin' to it...right? Well some days maybe but not so this season...at least for this ol' boy. Season opened September 1 and closes today. In past seasons we have experienced really good sage hen hunting in September but the past couple have been tough; the big grouse have made themselves scarce and this time around even "scarce" doesn't cut it. So far as I know we did not so much as see a single sage hen the entire month. October was not much better and compared to other years, when in most of our spots birds show up almost like clockwork, it really never happened. Normally by mid-month we know the whereabouts of enough birds that "gunnin' sage hens" often really is "nothin' to it." A matter of loosing the dogs, dogs point, walk-up and collect a limit. Too easy I often pass on birds the Sisters fail to handle just so but...
Hard for us to imagine but the bird Kate has is the first sage hen I shot/shot at this season (day before yesterday). Day before Annie found a dozen or so but we never did close enough for a shot. True we didn't hunt them as often as we have other seasons but still we hit our best spots plenty enough we should have at least seen some...One day around the first of October the dogs trailed up six...all big, wary as hell, they saw us coming and flushed wild, way beyond even hope and a prayer, left the country and that was that.
Yesterday, for better or worse, we decided to close out our 2010 sage hen operation at our best spot. Except for the above mentioned bunch we had not found much sign there all season and no other birds. About half-way through our planned sweep both dogs got birdy and eventually Annie pointed. A single cock flushed and I killed it and like before that was that. No more birds, no more fresh droppings, no more birdy dogs...The why of all this is more than I know considering that going into spring there were more birds using all our best spots than any other spring. Where the hell they wandered...who knows? Our hope is once winter rolls around things will return to normal. We don't need a bunch of sage hens in the bag but we do need to know they are still out there alive and well. To my way of thinking a southwest Montana not crawling sage hens would indeed be pretty sorry.