Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Funny how your mind works!


I wrote this piece after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The recent lawsuit by parents of some of the children killed brought this to mind.


Christmas is strained this year. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the concepts of peace and charity while watching funerals of children on every news program I turn on, including those 250 miles up north. After all, Christmas, for me anyway, has always been about children.

Seamus and I went on our last grouse hunt of the season a couple of days ago along the banks of the Jordan. It wasn’t a particularly good day for a hunt, but it was a chance to get out one more time and Seamus needed to run and hunt. It was rainy and the woods were wet and Seamus was soaked before we had gone very far but his bell worked and he was as excited as a puppy playing with a grouse wing.DSC_0274

The woods were eerily quiet. After a while I consciously noticed the absence of chirping birds, rustling squirrels and was surprised we hadn’t jumped a rabbit, even by accident. I chalked it up to the dampness and came to the conclusion they were holed or nested up. Seamus didn’t mind, I doubt if he even noticed, he was just glad to be there doing what he figured he was supposed to be doing.

Seamus hunts in a crisscross fashion that turns into a circle if grouse are hard to find. Occasionally he stops and looks up to see where I am then continues. This day was no different. We covered a lot of ground, some familiar, some not so familiar and we found ourselves deep into a section that was too dense earlier in the season to penetrate but now that the ground vegetation had died out and trees were barren of leaves, it was easy access. Seamus led the way and I saw no reason not to just follow. I tried to stay on a ridge as he worked along the bottom. It was a pleasure watching the little Britt having a ball.

The surroundings became familiar again as we reached a half grown-over trail that wasn’t wide enough for a car, but wide enough to have served a purpose years before but I couldn’t tell for what. The trail just sort of appeared then disappeared, leading to nowhere coming from nowhere.

A few hundred yards along the trail, dab smack in the middle, stood a seven foot spruce. Twenty feet beyond stood another spruce, this one slightly shorter. The trees were the only evergreens around, almost as though they were planted and looked perfectly pruned. They would have made a perfect Christmas tree in someone’s home. Seamus of course didn’t notice the trees beyond sniffing around and under them for scent of grouse and kept on with his business.

I must have stood there admiring and thinking about the trees too long because all of a sudden I realized the woods were completely quiet ….no bell. Seamus found something and was on point. I looked for the liver and white silhouette frozen stiff, but I couldn’t see him. I didn’t want to whistle him off, so I waited, listening for the thunder of wings as bonasa umbellus took flight to escape Seamus. A few seconds later, almost the same time I heard the grouse make his escape, Seamus yelped like a beagle. There were two. There on the other side of the ridge, behind a cluster of scrubs, Seamus came out, nose to the ground hoping for more.

I caught a glimpse of the second grouse but I didn’t bother to raise the 16 gauge double I was carrying. Maybe it was because my mind went back to another Christmases when I saw the trees I came across. Maybe it was the thought of the children in Connecticut, whatever the reason, shooting at the grouse didn’t occur to me.

We hunted two other places where we usually find grouse; few were there, but Seamus was hunting and that was the intent of the trip.

The ride back to the cabin and “She Who Must Be Obeyed” was quiet. Seamus jumped to the front seat of the Jeep and despite his being wet I let him stay; I appreciated his company. The hunt was his gift, his being there was mine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!