Post Election Day Hunt

By David Cowardin
Duluth Outdoors Editor 

After the 2012 presidential election, there are only so many things a man can do to come back down to earth. Hunting grouse is one of them.

“Think of it as hiking with a gun,” my friend Luke said.

You see, I’ve never been hunting. Ever. So Luke was showing me how simple it really is.

“It’s really just an excuse to get out into the woods,” he said as he stopped to rub some pine needles between his fingers, telling me how much sweeter they smells after a rain.

We were about 30 miles north on Rice Lake Road, hiking around a small lake listening for the heavy thump of a grouse. The sky was gray and everything was wet: the sweet smell of pine was strong.

We made simple decisions. Like which way to turn when the trail came to a fork, or walking in the middle of tire tracks so we wouldn’t slip and fall. Sometimes we talked about work and travel. Sometimes we were quiet. We reduced the crazy post-election world to nothing. We were out of reception, hiking with a gun.

After a while we came upon an old hunting shack. A sorry excuse for a deer stand dangled from a nearby tree, an old cover of a snowblower was used as a fire grate and an American flag bent down from a pole like a wet flower waiting for a rejuvenating wind. The shack was empty expect for a few bottles of Windsor, motor oil and nude magazines. We didn’t know the people who owned the shack, but we knew their type. People like us, looking to reduce the busy world to it’s raw elements: liquor, nude women and a whiff of nationality.

We made a few more simple decisions, talked about the progression of life and expectations of society, stopped briefly to listen for a bird hiding behind a mess of branches, shot without a clear target, picked up a few dead shells left behind by other hunters and forgot who was president. Because the only governance in the deep north woods are the raw elements of life. The trees, the water, the birds and the sky.

I plucked a few pine needles on our walk back to the car, rubbed them between my fingers and thought about how easy it would be to enter the woods and never come back. To build a shack and tell it my secrets. To be president.



about 12 years ago

I am just genuinely confused about this post. It's a nice photo though.

Cory Fechner

about 12 years ago

I enjoyed your write up! What are your thoughts about grouse hunting on public land during deer season?  In the past there has been some controversy on that topic.


about 12 years ago

I'm not David, but I can say I've generally avoided hunting grouse during deer season, at least in the rifle zone. I don't want my dog mistaken for a deer, and I don't want either one of us hit by a stray bullet, since they travel so much farther than #8s. I have done it in the southeast Minnesota shotgun zone, in fact I've grouse and deer hunted in the same day.

I guess I'm not quite sure why it would be all that controversial. It should be OK, as long as everyone is following all the safety rules.

What does confuse me about this post is that someone who is a "Duluth Outdoors Editor" has never been hunting before. Apart from that, it is a nice article.


about 12 years ago

I guess my question is this: while you are out there in the shack rubbing the pine needles together what are you going to be the president of...

David Cowardin

about 12 years ago

@mnbeerdrinker - It is ironic that I am the editor of an outdoor news site and never been hunting. But there are many outdoor activities I have yet to try. The reason I created Duluth Outdoors is because I love to be outside and I love trying new activities, more importantly, I like to write about them.

@Carla - The last sentence, about being president, shouldn't be read in a literal context. It has more to do with the simplicity of life and our tendency to make it more complicated than it is.


about 12 years ago

"shot without a clear target."  Yikes!

Cory Fechner

about 12 years ago

There has been controversy in the past about if, or if not, to close grouse hunting during the deer-hunting season.

I am an avid grouse hunter and I do not hunt grouse on public land during deer season for these reasons:

1. Safety, like mnbeerdrinker pointed out -- for me and my dog.

2. Respect to deer hunters and hunting etiquette. I think of it from the perspective of the deer hunter. Someone bird hunting in their hunting area (albeit on public land) that they have prepped, hunted and scouted for years can ruin that day's hunt and maybe a few days in a limited 16-day season.  Extra human and dog scent can determine if or if not a deer makes its way into that hunter's shooting area. I guess it is more of a hunting etiquette thing for me, so my personal opinion is they close grouse hunting during deer season.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Cory Fechner

about 12 years ago

Important side note on bird hunting safety during deer rifle season. You must have full blaze orange on your head and above your waist, which would mean you need to wear a full blaze jacket during rifle season.

MN Hunting Regulations say:

A person may not hunt or trap during the open season where deer may be taken by firearms under applicable laws and ordinances, unless the visible portion of the person's cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, is blaze orange. Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each foot square.


about 12 years ago

@Cory -- Agree with the blaze orange requirements.  I switched to a blaze orange vest and hat at all times after being sprayed once by pellets from another hunting party that did not see me.

Not sure I agree entirely with your point #2. I would have thought that some activity in the woods would have helped move deer, and thus would be welcomed by deer hunters.  Not much different than a drive or still hunting.  I've always deer hunted SE MN where it can get crowded on the scattered bits of public land, and I'd be more surprised not to see other hunters moving around during the day. Maybe it is different up north where there are larger, more monolithic chunks of public land.

@David -- Nice article.  Glad you gave grouse hunting a try. I'll check out DO more when I have time.

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