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Shooting the clays, and the breeze, up north

Shooting the clays, and the breeze, up north Shooting the clays, and the breeze, up north

Whether by text or phone call, I started to hear about it. “Did you hear that they cancelled the grouse season?” was the question posed to me.

“Ah, pretty sure not,” was my reply.

But the messengers were adamant so I made a quick search and found that the sharptail grouse season was closed again this year – the sharptail grouse season. This should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the saga of sharpies in Wisconsin. In fact, I will be surprised if there is another year that the season will be open with the guidelines of the new management plan in place.

The ruffed grouse season will still run as listed in the regs.

I had one guy ask me what sharpies are. Well, they are a species of grouse that live and thrive in grasslands. Think Dakotas, Nebraska and Eastern Montana for a substantial range. They live in similar places as prairie chickens. You won’t find them in ruffed grouse cover.

I was just distracted by a couple deer galloping across the field across the road. Funny thing is, after all the thousands upon thousands of deer I’ve seen, I still like to watch them any chance I get.

Some of my friends from the old dog club got together this past weekend in the northeast part of the state, some of my old stomping grounds as a kid. I was just a few miles from my very first deer stand, not far from the U.P.

We shot sporting clays at an Ruffed Grouse Society event in Dunbar, at the Dunbar Sportsmen’s Club. It’s a small but very active club. It has several trap ranges lined up, with voice activated throwing systems, and several trap leagues during the week. Years ago, they laid out a sporting clays course and bought several throwers.

They set the course up twice each year and they are currently building a five-stand course. They rent some of the throwers from a vendor now to reduce the cost of new equipment and keep the clays presented new and interesting. They put on a well-organized event that we enjoy the heck out of.

And after the shooting was done, we set up lawn chairs in the shade while social distancing and enjoyed an adult beverage while waiting for the prizes to be awarded. After that, we headed back to a buddy’s house and continued to solve all the problems of the bird dog world around the fire. A scenic and beautiful part of the state, the drive up there is just as scenic. In past years, we might do a little trout fishing since the trout fishing is very good up there. So is the lake fishing with one of the premier panfish lakes in the state within 35 miles. I keep threatening to take vacation, get there a day or two early and spend that time catching monster bluegill. If you get bored with that, the crappie, walleye, northern and musky open eyes as well. It’s a different pace of life up there, especially on the weekends. During the days you almost see more UTV’s and ATV’s than cars and trucks. They have a lot of trails in Marinette County.

We saw a lot of deer and a fair amount of turkeys with poults.

We ate a lot of venison jerky, venison sausage, venison biltong, cheese and crackers. We even cooked up some venison burgers. We weren’t harvesting last weekend; we were consuming the fruits of last year’s harvest.

Some of the venison came from Montana. One friend feels that he will be hunting deer in Montana and double that up with pronghorn. He will work that around some bird hunting as well. He feels it’s higher quality hunting than Wisconsin’s. He isn’t the only one I know who feels this way and has made a change. Of course, he has seven weeks of vacation and gets five annually. That helps. We didn’t tackle that issue. Just kept eating the venison.

The gnats were kind of thick at night so we ran some Thermacells and used bug spray. We helped raise some funds for RGS, which pays us dividends towards the future. We shot some clays and dined on venison and bluegills.

We enjoyed the warmth of a campfire and the cool of shade tree on a breezy 85 degree day. We were taking the time to stop and sniff the roses so to speak — because the hunting starts in 25 days. THROUGH A