Even though we had record snow pack winter last winter, it didn't seem to hurt the local grouse numbers. In fact, I've seen more grouse this year than ever. Erdos and I found grouse every time we went out. That's not unusual for my friend Andy -- the grouse killer -- but he has long legs and is willing to walk as far as it takes to find them. I usually hunt a loop less than a mile from the truck. As time passes my own inventory of places I've seen grouse has grown. And they tend to live in the same places year to year so this leads to more easily obtained successes.
I took my Dad out with me and he waited in the truck while Erdos and I hunted. Before I could get my shotgun out and loaded he was onto birds. They had walked through some time before. We followed the scent, with Erdos continually locking onto point and then looking ahead, ovbiously expecting to see a bird right in front of him at any moment. We followed them for about 200 yards, and then Erdos went on point and would not move. I walked forward and birds went up everywhere. I shot, and shot again, and two birds were down with at least five more flushed. We tried to follow-up on them, but they'd flown the coop.
We moved up the mountain to another spot. Erdos was scenting birds but we did not find them as we moved into the breeze. I knew there was a bird there and so we circled back and we bumped two birds in a tangle of scrubby aspens. I had no shot. Heading back toward the truck where my Dad was waiting, Erdos went on point again. I stepped forward, flicking the safety on and off on my 20 gauge. A bird flushed and angled across an opening in the trees, a perfect shot. I mounted the gun to a perfect sight picture, I flicked the safety, and pulled the trigger. And nothing happened. As bird flew off into the taller timber Erdos turned and looked at me like I was hopeless. I'd had the safety on when I mounted the gun and flicked it off instead of on. Some practice with the shotgun before the season starts would not hurt me at all, not one bit.