The flush of a ruffed grouse can be a rare occurrence much of the time. It’s been said that a grouse hunter would starve if grouse were the only food consumed by said hunter because the number and size of the birds reduced to bag falls far short of the calories burned walking through the woods in pursuit of the feather rockets. Further, even when a larger number of grouse are encountered, their unexpected flushes combined with the dense vegetation that they call home makes shooting them seem like an almost impossible task. I’ve never met an arrogant grouse hunter.
I’m not sure that everything I do in life has to be a metaphor for something but I think that grouse hunting may be instructive nonetheless. George Santayana said that the definition of fanaticism is redoubling your efforts when you’ve forgotten your aim. However, I don’t think that I’ve ever lost the aim of grouse hunting. It really is based on a simple concept. It’s good for my soul.
When I grouse hunt, I am getting outside. Getting outside has to be worth a twenty percent drop in blood pressure by itself. Plus I’m taking a walk. Walking saves my arthritic knee and gets my blood moving around my body. My brain joyfully mono tasks when I am walking in the woods. My dog, Max, is one of the rare human beings who is always a pleasure to hang out with. Well, maybe Max isn’t human but he seems happy to let me mono task and he never rubs it in when I miss a shot.
Grouse hunting is simple because it never allows its aim to be distorted. I’ve had two or three limits in my life. Most days I come home with no birds or one in my game bag. There is no human pride that can attach itself to grouse hunting. In fact, greed, gluttony and all other Cardinal vices are not possible for the grouse hunter. Thus, grouse hunting is virtuous. Thus, it is good for my soul.