Believe it or not, places like Grouse Creek and Ptarmigan Lake aren't always as productive as their names imply. Additionally "They're everywhere" and "I always see them up there" are officially my two least favorite phrases spoken by non-hunters.
Though it's never a bad idea to prey on local knowledge in hopes of finding a honey hole, the fact is, most non-hunters have no idea where to find game. Yes, they may stumble upon a grouse or two here and there on their morning hike, or spot a few resident greenheads dabbling around in the cattle dugout they always drive by on their way to work, but rarely do they ACTUALLY know where to find what you're looking for, i.e. the massive coveys that shake the earth when they erupt or the oxbow lakes that hold enough ducks to black out the sky.
After hiking around ten thousand vertical feet this past week, I feel I have finally learned this lesson. While local knowledge can sometimes be helpful, there's nothing that puts birds in the bag like boot-leather and good ole fashion location scouting.
Here are some photos from this week:
(Allie with her first Blue grouse)
(A nice days limit of blues)
(Allie in what the locals promised was Ptarmigan Country)
(Allie and I in a place we heard the Ptarmigan "littered the ground" - no such luck)
(Allie is a lot more excited to run down this 3,000 ft avalanche shoot than I am)
(Allie in the frozen tundra that actually holds birds)
(More of above)
(At the cost of an e-collar remote, half a box of shells, and Allie's pads, we finally found some!)
Though we wasted a lot of time chasing "tips" from non-hunters, at least we got to do it in the high country. Sure beats the sage plains!