Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For April 17th, 2009 Edition.
A resounding "thump" sound emanating from the exterior or our house jarred Wifee Poo and I from watching an early evening news broadcast. The sudden, loud noise also sent our feisty tomcat racing for our bedroom and prompted a growl from Belle as she zoomed to our bay window to investigate the disturbance. This event took place on the final day of March, a month known for college basketballs "March Madness" and winter stressed locals suffering from "cabin fever."
The thump was caused by a ruffed grouse, which attempted to fly into our great room via one of the dining room picture windows. It wasn't until the following morning that I discovered what had caused the thump, which occurred when I ventured out on our deck to fill the bird feeders. There, resting belly up in the snow with crossed eyes was a very dead grouse.
It may come as somewhat of a surprise to some folks that grouse quite frequently fly into windows during the season of spring, as well as other times of the year as well. But spring seems to be a grouse's favorite season to attempt being "kamikaze grouse."
There are several different theories as to why ruffed grouse commonly fly into windows, and even sometimes simply fly into the solid side of a building. Romantic souls suggest it happens because spring is the season of love and love can even cause grouse to act goofy. Others suggest grouse are moving from their winter range to their summer range and mistake the reflection of a quiet forest setting on a window pane as a good looking location to spend the summer. A more logical theory suggests kamikaze grouse are experiencing a symptom equivalent to cabin fever. Possibly someone could get a federal government grant to study the problem, or a "grouse bailout."
Before Peggy and I moved to our present location five years ago we lived in a house set deep within a forested valley devoid of other homes. During our 28 years living in "Hoot an' Holler Hollow" we experienced attacks by ten or twelve different kamikaze grouse, none of which survived colliding with a plate glass window at 30 to 40 mph. In fact, our windows killed more grouse than I did with my shotgun! And another nice thing about kamikaze grouse - no lead shot pellets in the flesh!
Besides flying into windows of buildings grouse sometimes try entering a vehicle via the windshield. My most memorable memory of grouse VS truck windshield took place in early May during the late 1970s as I was heading towards a favored fishing hole with one of my long time clients, Don Capoccia. We were heading west on highway N near the vicinity of Crystal Lake when the accident occurred. My vehicle suffered no damage, but Don suffered from jangled nerves and spilled coffee.
Don was in the act of pouring himself a cup of hot java from his thermos when I saw a feathered missile heading straight for my truck. There was no time to shout a warning and even if I had the results would have been identical.
The two-pound bird, flying 40 mph, hit the passenger side of the windshield of a two-ton truck doing 55. Guess who won. The bird was a female, filled with eggs. Get the picture? The "thump" sounded like I had struck a deer, and two things occurred at about the same instant. Don tossed his cup of hot coffee upwards at the same time he looked forward into a window smeared with feathers, internal organs and egg yolk. Hence the spilled coffee and jangled nerves.
Don confessed a few minutes later, after I pulled to the side of the road and attempted to clean the mess off my trucks hood, grille and windshield with a portion of a six-pack of beer in our cooler, Don's first impression was I had struck a pedestrian.
Another oft-debated question is "does lighting strike the same place twice?" Let me change that somewhat to "will grouse fly through the same window pane twice"? I suspect the answer to the first question is "probably", and I can testify for certain the answer to the second question is "yes!"
Members of my family have been caretakers of a remote summer cottage since it was built in 1949. During that span of time three different grouse, (that I know of) have committed suicide by crashing into the cottages windows.
The first victim had enough velocity to make it through one 8 x 8 inch pane of glass in a large French window in the porch, but was DOA. All I had to do was sweep up the broken glass, install a new pane of glass, and give the grouse a fitting funeral. A second grouse selected a picture window in the living room to end its life but failed to gain entry into the cabin. I found the remains of the grouse on the deck. No funeral was required, as some species of prowling predator had dined on the grouse prior to my discovering the leftovers, which I simply swept off the deck.
The third intruder gained entry into the cottage through the same windowpane grouse # 1 had used to attempt trespass. However, this grouse had a muscular neck and/or a rock solid head and survived the crash!
I'm not sure exactly when the third grouse gained entry into the Momsen Cottage, but when I opened the vacation residence in late-April to ready it for the family's early May arrival - I discovered the broken pane of glass in the French window and a few feathers on the floor - but no grouse. I instantly knew the trespasser was somewhere in the building!
The electricity had as yet not been turned on and the master switch was deep within the cabin in an interior closet. I switched on my flashlight and as stealthy as a hunter in quest of a wily whitetail I began my search, expecting at any moment a roaring bombshell covered with brown feathers would scare the you-know-what out of me!
From the enclosed porch I entered the kitchen. Here, in the sink and on the windowsill, I discovered the first deposits of what had once rested in the grouse's intestines. (Get the picture?) No grouse in the kitchen. Next came the small dining area in the great room. Oh no - more grouse do-do on the carpet! No grouse in the dining room. The living room loomed ahead. Yes, the grouse had used the couch, but not for a nap - more do-do! Both living room windowsills were likewise decorated by - yep, grouse do-do. No grouse in the living room.
I hit the jackpot in the bathroom. (Possibly I should rethink that sentence.) Yes! I found the grouse! Quite dead, stiff and cold, resting in the bathroom sink! However, Mr. or Mrs. Grouse, (I didn't check which sex) had also used the bathroom for what bathrooms are designed for - in the sink, in the tub and on the windowsill but the bird left the commode clean.
The master bedroom and guest room escaped "do-do desecration" as the doors were completely closed.
By the time the Momsen family arrived for their first vacation of the year their cabin was spic and span. A small wooden cross, constructed of tree limbs, marked the historic location of the "do-do" trespassing grouse. My tale concerning the discovery of the trespass, search for the perpetrator and the mess it left behind was received amidst much giggling and laughter. Get the picture?
The Momsen's still own the cabin and we're still friends!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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