Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sage Hens Are Indeed Alive and Well After All...

(click to enlarge)

Witnessing scenes such as this, (here Annie's nailed 'em, Kate's backin' her up) are the main reason I hunt birds in general and sage hens in particular. As I have noted previously this fall sage hens, for us anyway, were tough--such that more often than not we failed to find even a single grouse. Worse in all our best spots there was little or no sign of their passing. In a typical season which runs from September 1 through November 1 the hunting starts off slow, hit or miss through much of September, then October rolls around and like flipping a switch the big grouse start to show up. Growing in numbers until the last two weeks of season it is not at all unusual to see 50 or more birds each day. Killing a limit often becomes too easy, so much so I take to shooting only when the dogs do a really good job. And then other days my heart really isn't in it. In that sort of frame of mind usually even if the dogs do good my shooting isn't so hot and...Like I said is all about the dogs anyway so what.

But with the sagebrush virtually empty all fall I fretted and fussed hoping nothing catastrophic happened. And thanks to the sage hen gods I can now report nothing did. Three weeks or so ago winter hit southwest Montana with a vengenance. Snow, bitter winds and cold (some days the high failed to top zero) and while it didn't happen overnight for the past week or so Voila! sage hens everywhere, at least everywhere they're supposed to be...Yesterday the Sisters found two bunches; one of about 12 or so and the other more like 35 or 40.

Pretty damn nifty, eh?

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