Just a few weeks ago the skies were blue, the clover green and the birds were still moving in the afternoon sun.

But then the daylight dwindles, the thermometer plummets, the hard frosts finish off the clover and the birds begin sticking closer to cover.

Soon after the first snows blanket the ground, allowing to you to see what the dog could always smell.

You focus in on the most likely places but the birds have all but vanished. Every infrequent flush seemingly the last that you’ll see. Still you push on through the thick brush, searching for birds.

The very few that you do down are hard won, hunkered down as they were in the tangled undergrowth and dense spruce thickets. Each one a just reward for the distance on your feet and the numbness in your fingers.

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Then one morning you wake up to two feet of snow, another grouse season ending and the realization that “rent-a-movie” weather has begun in earnest.

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