Hi! My name's Randy and I hunt prairie grouse without a dog. I need therapy.
I had been bird hunting for several years without a dog after Critter passed, but I had shied away from attempting to take dual limits. Then in 2009, I decided that if in 10 days of hunting, I could take any one of three new to me dual limits, that included prairie chickens, I would get a new dog in the spring. Those dual limits were: chickens & doves, chickens & fall turkey or chickens & chickens.
I started out by hunting the eastern sandhills instead of the central hills I had hunted for years. The central sandhills were predominately sharptails and it was just too difficult to even get shots at three chickens in a day let alone to take three in time to shoot another bag limit in the same day.
I soon located several CRP Map fields that reliably produced chickens and took a limit of just chickens my first afternoon. There were few doves in the area, so I packed up that night and drove to another public area that I had shot doves on in the past, but the tank was dry. The following mourning I stopped at another public area near my chicken fields and found a flock of turkey. I then hunted a new piece of CRP Map ground and shot a limit of just sharptails. Since I had two fall turkey tags and several hours left to hunt, I went back to look for those turkey, but the big birds were a no show.
The following mourning I decided to try for a turkey first thing since I could rely on them to feed in the same field I found them in the previous mourning. At 8:00 am, I had a couple of broods with a dozen or more juveniles at less than 40 yards. My Mag 10 put a jake turkey to rest and I was out of my camo and hunting a chicken field in shorts by 9:00am.
I was near the center of the CRP when I got into chickens, stutter flushing all around me. I took one to my right at about 25 yards, that I was sure fell dead, so I swung on a second bird crossing to my left. I searched for the second bird first as he fell nearest me but after several minutes, I decided to go get the other bird and return for this one. The right bird was laying in a small opening on the sidehill. I searched for the second bird for another 20 minutes, but just couldn't find it. Twenty minutes is a long time to tramp around in a 30 foot circle. A guy just hardly ever loses a grouse. Be it prairie or ruffed. That family just doesn't typically run when crippled and often times beats it's wings furiously when mortally wounded. But I still finally surrendered the chicken to the hunting gods.
This flock was mostly young of the year and they didn't fly far from their initial flush. I wasn't too far up the slight depression when a single flushed to my right and another as I was raising my gun. The birds were angling away and within just a few feet of each other when the old Superposed barked twice and both birds folded in a splash of feathers.
I was back at my truck taking pictures of my combination limit of fall turkey and prairie chickens before noon.