On my way home from work at the end of last week, I noticed movement in the grass on the side of our county road. I slowed down and took a closer look, and there were thirty or so sharp-tailed grouse running through the grass on the roadside. I stopped the truck and grabbed the camera, and as I stepped into the grass, those birds exploded out of the foliage.
I’ve seen sharp-tails in the area before, but that’s the biggest group of them I’ve seen together out here. I’ve seen bigger bunches in other places around the state, but out where I live, they normally don’t seem to be able to build up to those kinds of numbers.
I’m hoping that’s a good omen for this hunting season. I don’t know if the Game and Fish has scientifically counted more game animals this year than other years, but I’ve sure seen more birds and big game animals this year than I remember seeing for a while. I think the longer rainy season helped with the forage and bugs, giving us more game to hunt.
Granted, all that water might make it harder to hunt some animals. In dry years, if you know where there’s a water hole, you can usually stake it out, or a trail that leads into and out of it. The game will eventually come past on their way to get a drink. But when there’s water everywhere, it doesn’t do any good to focus on one specific water hole. They can go anywhere they want.
But there does seem to be more game out there. There are certainly more sharptails, at least around my house. Maybe there will be enough of them that I’ll actually have a chance at a few of them. I plan to do my best to find out.