Whitesburg KY

Struttin’ Time: What has happened to all the grouse here?

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself and your mind takes you back to the days of your youth.

As you already know, I had a joyful childhood and centered my life around hunting and fishing. We would hunt groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and my favorite, grouse. We had a small patch of corn on the far north side of our garden. There were beech trees and wild grapes growing beside our corn. It was a grouse heaven.

Mom would have my gun and powder sack ready when I would get in from school and say, “Son, how about a mess of grouse?” I would make the 20-minute hike to the corn patch, get in my spot, gather up some beechnuts, and wait. I can never remember leaving that spot with fewer than three grouse. I didn’t know then, nor do I now, what the limit was. I lived by Dad’s rule: “Son, always leave seed.”

Those were fun days, and from the time I was 10 years old until 17, I probably killed a coal truckload of grouse. I would shoot one and just leave it lay until dark caught me. I would then pick them up and head into the house, where my Uncle Lo would take over and clean them.

I still remember smelling the grouse frying as I walked through the door the next day after school. As a hunter who has hunted all that I care to hunt, those days were and still are “special.” Gone are the days of my youth, gone is the little corn patch, and gone are the grouse.

I don’t have an answer as to what happened to a grouse heaven, but like anyone I have my thoughts. Could it be the strip mining? Could it be they were over-hunted? Or could it be when the wild turkey made their comeback? I will let you ponder on working out your own answer. All I know for sure, is they have left and may not be back.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. As Struttin’ Time readers, I think we always enjoy fond times.

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