September Upland Photo's...

Discussion in 'Washington Flyway Forum' started by Harliduck, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    September is here and that brings some of my favorite hunting opportunities. Grouse, Dove, Band-Tails...and next week leaving for a week in Canada for waterfowl with SCTC...can't wait. Having one of the best starts in years, thought I would take a moment and share some pics.

    Started on Opening Day, 9/1...snuck out solo to the hills and shot a 3 bird limit of Ruff Grouse. All three still had eggshell, and you'll notice one is posed butt first...let's say the breast meat was still ok...lol. Spent 3 days at the Gorge at the DMB concert (19 years in a row keeping the wife happy)...drove home Monday night, came right back over and spent the week on the East side starting with 3 days up in the mountains solo...my son Jack had first week of school, wish he could have come. Special thanks goes out to Dave Bennett who let me store my trailer at his house for the night...thanks Dave! Owe you one. Here is my Opening day limit on Ruffs...

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    First day of my solo trip yielded a nice limit of 3 Blue's, and 1 Ruffed. I picked this area after coming across a birding article where bio's have discovered that both Sooty Blue's and Dusky Blue's range comes together on what is called "Black lines" habitat. As bird nerds know, in 2006 the Sooty and Dusky were split into their own species after years of being lumped together as simply Blues. Those fortunate to hunt them both, know they are clearly different. Hopes were I would find some hybrids...and lucky enough...I DID! Sent multiple pictures to several Bio's who confirmed I was indeed shooting Dusky X Sooty hybrid Blue Grouse. 99% of hunters could care less...and those that know me know I live for this type of selective hunting and am thrilled to have collected them. Of the 6 hybrids I shot in the following two days, I was able to save 2 pairs for taxidermy. Pumped. Here is my first Blue of the year -

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    Here is my first day's limit...represents several miles of hiking and lots of cuts and bruises...gotta love Washingtons mountains! :)

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    After I shot my Blues I went back to the Ruff covers of opening day a couple hours away and and collected this Ruff which gave me my bonus bird for the 4 bird limit. It was a great, long day...

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  2. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    Also on that first day, at around 3800 feet I came across a couple of Dove...and shot my first bird of the year. Rare to see Dove at these elevations, but I have had some great accidental shoots before. If this bird was the scout, he didn't return...

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    Signs of prior fires were everywhere of course, and the mornings of where I was had some terrible air quality. The winds would clean it up in the afternoon, only to return at night. I spooked these two does on one of my hikes, stopped counting at 20 deer that day...great to see so many. I of course wouldn't have seen that many had I been hunting them...lol...

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    A shot during my morning hike - cough, cough...

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    On day two I took my 3 bird Sooty X Dusky limit rather quickly. First limit was 2 males, 1 hen...this day I shot 2 hens, 1 male as you can see here. Just beautiful birds...

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  3. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    Ended up moving to two different areas, hours apart, in search of my bonus Ruff. I actually was outsmarted by probably the dumbest upland bird in Washington, as I over thought a Spruce Grouse I encountered that would also have worked. Won't go into that story, still ticked...lol. Anyhow...

    Drove off the mountain and headed further east and joined up with the Carr boys who were already knee deep in Dove carnage. The next three days were simply outstanding gunning...thanks again SCTC for hosting...had a blast! Day 1 was rough on me, Dove don't fly slow and lumbering like the big birds I was just chasing...no...they dart all over the place. I'm too embarrassed to say how many shells I shot on the first hunt to get my birds as I began to adjust...haha...

    Here is Cody during our first hunt, hiking to his hiding place...

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    Here is my second Dove of the year, first in the low lands...what a beauty...

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    Also shot my first Euro...at times we were covered in them. SCTC easily took 3 times the amount I did, and it was clearly a reflection of his shooting over mine...haha...

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    On Day 2 of Doves, SCTC and I decided to take 10 in the morning, then get our remaining 5 in the afternoon so we could hunt with a few buddies...I will admit on this morning I leveled back out on my shell loss prevention...I took these 10 Dove with 14 shots. Easily the best I had shot on Doves in years...

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    Here is my afternoon 5 birds with a bonus Euro. After Sean and I got our 5, we stayed and shot Euro's and ended up with 10 total...great day.

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  4. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    The Euro's...

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    Here is a great shot with SCTC and Ozzy...who just happens to be my Lab Harly's brother.

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    Day 3, the last day of my week away, we made fast work of a 3 man limit with more bonus Euro's. Here is the hero shot with SCTC and his son Cody. Great morning hunt...in fact we started the hunt at a different place, which was a bust, and we moved to this locale. We lost the first 1.5 hours of he morning, and STILL took limits. Great hunt to end the week for me...

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  5. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    Got back to the West side, and it was time to get my son Jack on some birds. Last year he shot his first Grouse...a nice Dusky Blue...well actually he shot two, both on the East side. His goal for this year was to shoot a nice Ruffed Grouse, and add to his life list. Headed up to the hills to do just that. Our first encounter was with a nice group of 5 Ruffs...to which he whiffed (and yes, so did I). After a 3 hour after school/work hike, with about 20 minutes of shooting time left and only 100 yards from the truck, we had a beauty nice Ruffed flush almost at Jacks feet, unseen. He pulled up, and with one shot got his first ever Ruffed Grouse! A prouder father I could not be...still stoked as I type this.

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    Jack took this shot when our hike took us into a nice little clearing...what a great day...

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  6. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    A couple days later, and now with Band-Tail Pigeon season opened, Jack and I once again hit the hills. This time the big goal was getting him yet another life bird, the BT. The last couple of years have been rough for me on BT's, and our best spots have simply matured past ideal habitat...the trees are drowning out the blueberry bushes. Our goal was to scout and hope to encounter a bird or two. We drove as far as we could, then hiked the remaining way to the top of the mountain where I knew there was a clearing. On the way, Jack took another nice Ruffed Grouse...and unfortunately on this bird shot off some of it's tailfeathers! He was hoping he could have added this bird to the other Ruffed getting mounted.

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    Here is Jack overseeing quite a visual...we are literally on top of the mountain.

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    As luck would have it, we did see two Band-Tails. Jack got one shot, and dumped a nice juvie BT and checked off on another bird. It's the first Band-Tail we have taken in 3 years...need to remedy that with a much better spot for next year. But what a great evening...Jack came off the mountain with two fine birds.

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    Still have some September to go...this weekend is Jack's Youth Waterfowl hunt...chasing Wood Ducks, Teal, ect...can't wait. And as mentioned earlier...finishing out September in Canada. Hope everyone else is getting plenty of gunning in...let the season begin!
     
  7. Wareagle1

    Wareagle1 Elite Refuge Member

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    Awsome write up!
     
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  8. Doc E

    Doc E Elite Refuge Member

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    Excellent write up and pics ! ! !

    You will notice that the Dove you took in the mountains will taste different than Doves from normal low altitude.

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  9. Harliduck

    Harliduck Moderator Moderator

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    Doc...I agree with you...having shot a good chunk of Doves at high elevations and have eaten LOTS of Dove, I can definitely tell in taste. I also think the meat is a tad bit darker for whatever reason, and maybe it's just me...but it seems the high altitude birds consistently migrate there, and their overall feathers are a bit darker. Again, that could just be me though...lol. I ate that Dove in camp...wish I would have saved it for a side by side pic comparison...
     
  10. H20DAD

    H20DAD Elite Refuge Member

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    How do the sootie or dusky grouse taste? I love ruffed grouse.
     

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