A Cold Crew of Grouse Hunters
Were all of our sporting endeavors successful they would cease to be very memorable. It’s the bad days that make the good ones long remembered and in some cases offer us the best opportunity for a few laughs.
A recent nor’easter demolished a grouse hunt and a trip to Long Island Sound the next day in pursuit of false albacore; both of which had been planned for a while, so I was not about to cancel them.
For those of you in other parts of the country not familiar with nor’easters, they are low-pressure systems that suck up half the North Atlantic on the front side and dump it on New England on the backside as they pass through. In the winter they cause epic blizzards, but in the fall it’s merely epic rain, wind, and a few floods.
The grouse hunt was on a Friday, when a number of us planned an annual all day grouse hunt in memory of Seve, a great dog once belonging to a close friend Mike Quartararo. We were to gather for breakfast, hunt, and meet up for lunch in a remote location, and then hunt some more. The morning brought torrential rains and wind, and sitting at the diner consuming flapjacks and coffee, we wondered what the hell we were doing there, but no one was calling it a day. I wondered aloud if we were truly sportsmen or truly stupid to be going out in this to pursue grouse. Tom Deck perhaps said it best: “At what moment would you ever wake up to this weather and decide it was a good day to go grouse hunting?”
Nevertheless we persevered.
No matter how well protected with the latest in technical gear, the combination of sweat and cold, horizontal rain soaked us all. The only ones unaffected were the dogs that could not have cared less as long as they were hunting. Lunch brought us together in Brett’s barn where hot grills, sausages, and a few drams of the good stuff stifled the shivering. Needless to say lunch lasted for the rest of the day. It was a bad day to hunt, but ultimately a good day for hunters for we were together and the laughter, the stories, and the shared misery were ultimately what would make this day one to be long remembered.
The same storm pounded Long Island Sound and the day I spent out there, though now sunny and bright, proved fruitless. The bait was scattered, the fish were no where to be found and the wind and waves made for eight hours of relentless pounding as we searched for anything that looked like a striper, a blue, or an albacore. But my son, who lives and works in New York, and I spent time together. We were on the boat, on the ocean, and that in itself is worth the pounding. A few more fish would have made it better, but any time I can spend with him now that he is grown is priceless.
The older I get the more I measure my success in days hunted or fished, not birds killed or fish caught.
Two bad days? There’s really no such thing.