Friday, September 26, 2008

Part II: Warm Welcome

A short drive from Valentine found us in southeastern Montana, where we both had our sights set on sage grouse. Neither of us knew how much longer they could be a huntable species, so we focused intently on the opportunity to take these birds that are much like pteradactyls--large and pre-historic in their appearance.

Ted has killed nearly every species of upland bird available in the US over Dottie, but he needed a sage grouse. So Dottie and Sage, the veterans, got the call. After fifteen minutes we were about to head out to the truck when Sage located birds far to our flank. As he attempted to relocate he put up several of the bombers. We collected our dogs and were able to find the young birds just over a hill, where we both took our first sage grouse over Sage and Dottie's shared find. A little ways further into the sage and I had my limit of two. On our last push towards the truck, Sage made a long forward cast with the wind at our backs, and located a solitary juvenile in some grass. One hour and two limits of our first sage grouse, not bad!

Now for 70 miles of dirt road on our way north. We were warned to be careful of rattlesnakes; this one was on the road basking in the afternoon sun. No rattlesnakes were harmed during this vacation. This was actually the only one we saw the entire time.

Eastern Montana is extremely beautiful in it's simplicity, vastness, and scale of agriculture. Not to say all of it is wheat wheat and more wheat. That evening we hunted some rougher stuff and were able to find a few sharptails with Ike and Vegas. Lessons learned: 1) there can be a lot of mosquitos--even in arid Montana, 2) prickly pear cactus aren't easily extracted from the roof of a dog's mouth, and 3) you get what you pay for when it comes to most everything, motels in this case.

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