The BDN is looking for reader-submitted outdoor stories. Here’s one from Lorrainne Blass.
My husband and I were out bird hunting. I ride “shotgun” and he drives. He has to watch the road, so I do most of the shooting.
We were going along one of our favorite bird hunting roads when I spotted a grouse (partridge). It was standing on a slight rise that turned out to be part of a ledge that was above ground. The bird was fanning its tail feathers and moving them side to side.
I got all excited and called out, “Bird!” which prompted him to stop a few yards down the road.
I am a legal hunting Maine Country Girl. I throw open the truck door and get out. All the while thinking about the bird. Hmm … Grouse display like that when it’s mating season … wait … it’s not mating season! Why was the bird behaving like that? Then I thought I had it figured out. It’s got to be a game warden’s [decoy] bird. One that they set up to see if you are following all the hunting rules.
“Well”, I thought smugly, “Fooled them! I always do it legally!” I don’t load my gun, (single shot 20 gauge) until my feet are on the ground.
So I put in the shell, closed the gun, pulled back the hammer and quietly walked back to where the bird was. It was still in the same place just a few yards off the road. I got to where I could clearly see the bird, still fanning the tail feathers. I pulled the gun up, expecting to hear, “Don’t shoot! Game warden (so and so).”
I heard nothing.
So, fine! I’ll shoot it!
So I did. As I walked up to retrieve my grouse, I saw movement on the other side of the rise that the grouse had been standing on. It was a second bird! It was down but still flopping around a little. I retrieved BOTH birds. TWO BIRDS, ONE SHOT!
My husband was quite surprised when I came back with two birds and I had only fired the gun once!
Apparently they do the tail fan as a territorial thing as well. The first bird must have been telling the second bird, “Get the heck out of here! This is my territory! My tail feathers are bigger than yours and I’m bigger than you!” (It had been standing on the higher ground).
I guess the second one should have listened.
That’s my hunting story!
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