By Mark Parman
''There are varieties of searching: usual looking, and ruffed-grouse hunting.''—Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac
Like that past grouse hunter Aldo Leopold, Mark Parman takes to the woods whilst 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 throughout the altering bushes and foliage, thrills to the unexpected flush of thrashing wings, and holds a fowl in hand, grateful for the meal it's going to supply. Distilling twenty seasons of grouse looking into those essays, he writes of previous canine and gun lust, disguise and transparent slicing, weather swap, 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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Who was I to question the judges? Back at the truck beneath the shade, Ox didn’t seem to have a care in the world. He was sleeping on his side and merely shifted his eyes to us when we walked up. We packed up and left. On the drive home, I ranted and raved, cursed our luck and howled into the wind while Susan listened with growing impatience. After a while she said, “You sound just like a Little League dad. Get over it. ” Early Season 44 Still I kept yammering, complaining about the good hard cash I had wasted (not true—the money would go to improve the ﬁeld trial grounds), how I could have better spent my dollars on shells or a new pair of brush pants.
After picking it up, we started back to the truck. From then on, Gunnar rode up front with me in the cab instead of in his kennel in the bed of the truck. For one thing, it was easier to hoist him up into the cab than it was to muscle him up on the tailgate. I still had to help him jump up onto the seat, but it was a considerably shorter jump than into the back of my truck. A friend bought a ramp so his old dog could get into his kennel in the bed of his pickup, but after thirteen seasons I ﬁgured Gunnar deserved to ride up front.
Their ﬂowing stride, their rippling thighs, their jingling bells, their happy feet. Most days I hunted just to watch them hunt. On that October day years ago, I learned a valuable lesson: given the choice between dog and shotgun, I’ll take the dog every time. In Praise of Old Dogs u s t t e n m i n u t e s i n t o t h e h u n t , our ﬁrst of the year, my Weimaraner started to lurch from side to side. Stumbling ahead a few more yards, Gunnar collapsed on his side, legs jerking, eyes wide and staring off into the netherworld for all we knew.
A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting by Mark Parman