Moose and Grouse at Loon Lake

This weekend has been pretty spectacular. Clear and sunny, no wind, about 20 degrees at the warmest. No new snow. We got about an inch since last weekend’s storm.

The lake ice is safe. Be careful close to shore, and near docks.

I have been doing a lot of grouse hunting, down past the Loon Lake Mountain parking lot. That section of the Kushaqua tract was logged, maybe 5-6 years ago. Still easy walking along the old logging paths. I wore snowshoes earlier in the week, but did not really need them. I did it more to establish a path, which I extended each foray into the woods.

In addition to grouse, I saw plentiful signs of rabbit. What amazed me most, though, was the frequent signs of Moose activity. I saw four different signs: Antler scrapes on trees, post-hole tracks through the woods, moose scat (think peanut M&Ms), and beds. These signs were all over, some within 100 yds of RT 26.

My second day back in this area, I found that one Moose had chosen to use my snowshoe track to navigate through the woods, occasionally veering off to nibble on a tree.

I did not actually see a Moose. I probably would, if I just sat still somewhere for several hours. Hard to do at 20 degrees— unless you are next to an 800 degree wood-fired pizza oven.

Yesterday, I walked for about 90 minutes, reaching my turnaround time. As I checked my GPS, I realized I had curled around to the Northwest. I could either retrace my steps, or drop down about 150 yards to Rt 26, down closer to Duck Pond. I opted for the bushwhack to the Road.

As I walked back up the road, I watched two fighter jets above me in a mock dog fight. It was quite something to see. One car came by and stopped to talk. Two young guys, going out for birds. I noticed they were dressed in cotton sweatshirts, and that their shotguns were between their front bucket seats. It was under 20 degrees, and I had on three layers of clothing. I surmised they were hunting road grouse— grouse that come out midday, onto the roads, seeking sand and gravel.

Hunting road grouse is an acceptable practice in some areas. It is prevalent on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, the backwoods of Northern Maine and Vermont, and here in the Northern Adirondacks. I don’t mind it, except I abhor shooting a grouse as it sits on the ground. This is not sportsmanlike. This is akin to shooting a sitting duck. The sport (and skill) comes from shooting a flying bird. So if the road hunter walks up and makes the grouse fly, that is hunting.

I easily would shoot many more ducks and grouse if I were willing to shoot them on the ground or water. But I see no satisfaction in that. For me, hunting is not about the killing, it is all experiencing and enjoying the natural environment that surrounds us at Loon Lake.

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