A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting by Mark Parman

By Mark Parman

''There are types of searching: traditional looking, and ruffed-grouse hunting.''—Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac

 

Like that previous grouse hunter Aldo Leopold, Mark Parman takes to the woods while the aspens are smoky gold. right here, in an evocative almanac that chronicles the early season of the grouse hunt via its lead to the snows of January, Parman follows his puppy during the altering timber and foliage, thrills to the surprising flush of thrashing wings, and holds a poultry in hand, grateful for the meal it's going to supply. Distilling twenty seasons of grouse searching into those essays, he writes of previous canines and gun lust, conceal and transparent slicing, weather switch, partners female and male, natural world paintings, and stumps. A Grouse Hunter’s Almanac delves into the brain of a hunter, exploring the Northwoods with a watch for greater than simply game.

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His last autumn he seemed to get older by the day. His hips didn’t want to work in the morning when he got up, so I would grab his collar to help him down the stairs. He needed to go outside much more often, sometimes in the middle of the night, but he deserved all the comfort and care we could give. In late October, when he could no longer lift himself off his dog pad and shook from the pain of his cancer, we Early Season 32 said good-bye and put him down. I remember the awful beauty of that late October day, a few white clouds drifting in the blue sky and Gunnar’s head just visible over the seat, looking as if he were setting off on a hunt.

Thoroughly dejected, I started to wonder why I’d signed up for the field trial in the first place. Still I hoped the judges had been impressed with Ox’s stamina and drive. He’d worked every bit of the cover, slashing and quartering, running hard despite a bleeding tongue. And since no other puppy had recorded a point, I still felt we had a chance as we walked out of the woods. Later that afternoon, as my wife and I sat inconspicuously in the rear of the awards ceremony, the winners were announced, and I Ox 43 sensed Ox wouldn’t be among them.

Now, there’s a whole lot of subjectivity in field trials—that I understood. I teach English and journalism, and grading essays and articles is a subjective task if ever there was one. But in doing so I try to set and maintain standards. And if pointing a bird at a pointingdog trial isn’t a standard, then what is? Essentially, winning depended on whether the cover allotted held any birds since the puppy stake seemed to be a matter of simply locating them. Too bad if the dog didn’t get good cover.

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