The Orvis Hunting Blog celebrates our wingshooting heritage with bird hunting news, and entertaining and enlightening podcasts by Orvis wingshooting expert Reid Bryant. We take you into the field with us in our informative articles, photos, and videos that share the sporting lifestyle we love.
Ruffed grouse always make me smile, sometimes it is when I have watched my spaniels change as they get a snoot full of scent and the bird flushes, sometimes its when I get lucky and actually connect with one, and most times it is when they fly away from the pattern of my 20 bore and live to see another day.
Shooting instructor James Ross sights down the barrel with me to diagnose any problems with gun mount, follow through, or anything else that may cause me to miss the clay target.
photo by Sandy Hays
The final straw was my last shot of the 2010 Vermont grouse season. I’ve never been a good (or even mediocre) shot, but for the first time since I had moved back to the Northeast almost a decade earlier, I had gone the whole season without downing a single bird. I was determined to rectify the situation on that cold day before New Year’s Eve.
But after an hour of fruitless hunting, I was ready to give up and started walking back toward the car along a logging road. I remained alert, but hope was certainly waning as the last gate came into view. Suddenly, the whirring of wings bursting into flight sounded from a pine tree to my left, . . .
Orvis has instituted a new endorsed program of hunting guides that specialize in the true wild bird experience. This day and age, true wild birds are not easy to find. Access to land that has wild birds can be difficult and for that reason the hunting lodge is now the preeminent form of guided upland hunting. But there are those out there who still want to walk further and hunt harder for the opportunity to shoot birds that have never seen a pen.
Given the weather up here in the Northeast, not only do I feel sorry for Murph having to go outside but I feel pretty sorry for myself sometimes. Standing outside at 3 AM and waiting for Murph to take care of business is actually pretty comical, but not much fun, particularly when it is below zero. In retrospect, I would avoid getting a puppy in the dead of winter again unless I lived south of the Mason Dixon. But, and it’s a big but, I wanted this breeding. I’m thrilled with Murphy, and I’m finding ways to work around the weather both inside and outside when it’s reasonable.
Recently, I have heard a few shooters, on the front deck, chattering about different shootings styles and techniques. One conversation struck me as particularly odd. A gentleman mentioned to his friend that recently he had made a big break through with his shooting. His friend inquired as to what the epiphany might have been. The gentleman responded, “I am focusing on the target now when I shoot.” I found the comment puzzling. I have seen this man shoot before and he is a reasonably good shot. What has he been looking at for all these years? The gun.
We recently added a new endorsed hunting lodge in northeast Alabama called Dream Ranch. It’s located on a hill overlooking Lake Guntersville and that in itself is significant; I’ll tell you why in a minute. Dream Ranch is a family-owned operation and I called manager Austin Ainsworth to see what they have to offer. It was a bit more than I expected. While they offer great quail hunting, there are some unique opportunities there that make made it stand out for me.
Shooting a shotgun is a dynamic feat of visual concentration and movement— movement being essential to match the pace of the gun barrels to the pace of the target. This can be a very awkward to do when the gun is pre-mounted in the cheek and shoulder. I am a firm believer and advocate of starting with the shotgun in the low gun position.
I just returned from a quail hunting trip at Greystone Castle in Mingus, Texas. The ride to the Castle was an easy hour and fifteen minutes to get to the front gate of the facility from DFW in Dallas. I’d never been to Greystone before so this was a new experience for me. The Castle sits atop the highest point on the ranch and overlooks the entire property. It was a spectacular view.
It was exactly 2, 962 miles round trip to get Murph and he is worth every mile of it. It was a great seven days with my son Nick, road tripping through the South. I was born and raised there. Nick was born and raised in Vermont and introducing him to southern staples like pork cracklins and moon pies just made it better.
The first three days we hunted quail at Harris Springs (you can see the video in the hunting section), we shucked and ate roasted oysters South Carolina, went to Bass Pro in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I discovered to my chagrin I didn’t need anything, visited a friend of mine in Athens, Georgia who lives on a lake and watched geese and mallards drop in front of the rising sun, ate our fill of Waffle House breakfasts, spent the night near Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, and ultimately ended up in Oxford, Mississippi and Wildrose Kennels.It was exactly 2, 962 miles round trip to get Murph and he is worth every mile of it. It was a great seven days with my son Nick, road tripping through the South. I was born and raised there. Nick was born and raised in Vermont and introducing him to southern staples like pork cracklins and moon pies just made it better.
The first three days we hunted quail at Harris Springs (you can see the video in the hunting section), we shucked and ate roasted oysters South Carolina, went to Bass Pro in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I discovered to my chagrin I didn’t need anything, visited a friend of mine in Athens, Georgia who lives on a lake and watched geese and mallards drop in front of the rising sun, ate our fill of Waffle House breakfasts, spent the night near Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, and ultimately ended up in Oxford, Mississippi and Wildrose Kennels.
I just left Harris Springs Sportsman Preserve down in Waterloo, South Carolina, deep in the pine and Harwood Piedmont region in the northwest part of the state, the transition region that buffers the Appalachian range from the coastal plain. It is a quiet and unassuming lodge in a quiet and unassumingly beautiful part of the south.
It is a small lodge. They only take eight hunters at a time at most, but if ever there was a poster child of the axiom quality not quantity, it is Harris Springs. My son Nick and I came in late Sunday night after driving 24 hours down from Vermont. No one was there, as it was the day after Christmas, but manager Mark Seay had remained in constant contact with us on our way down. The gate was unlocked and the Rock House was waiting for us.