Saturday, September 28, 2013



As a kid from Kansas my upland adventures were almost always centered on Quail hunting. However, as an adult, my career in the Army has taken me to Colorado, and it's here that I have fallen in love with the mountains and the Grouse that inhabit the sage choked, high country meadows of the Rocky Mountains. This love affair with Grouse and the fact that I have always enjoyed reading about them has led me to pursue the collecting and reading of all sorts of outdoor literature, especially books about Grouse.  In outdoor literature it is common to see writers writing about Ruffed Grouse hunting - especially in the Eastern half of the United States.  It is however, far less common to see writers writing about the many types of Grouse that inhabit the Western half of this country.  So when I saw Craig Kulchak posting on Facebook about his upcoming book "My Mountain Grouse" and realized that the book would be focusing on Western grouse in the mountains of Idaho, I just had to read it.  I contacted Craig via Facebook and asked him for the opportunity to review the book and post my review here. He was gracious enough to allow me the chance to do just that.

Some of my favorite outdoor books are nothing more than the author going back through many years of his or her journals and chronicling the details of their days afield and then taking those same adventures and sharing them with like minded folks.  George Bird Evans’ classic “Grouse & Woodcock in the Blackwater/Canaan” is a prime example of this type of writing.  “My Mountain Grouse” is another clear example of why this style of writing is so enjoyable.  Each chapter takes the reader back in time on a short hunt through the mountains of Idaho.  Craig does a superb job of describing the sights, sounds and smells of the hunt in a way that  makes you almost feel as though you are actually taking part in the adventure.

But what really impressed me most about this book was that in almost every chapter the author was accompanied by one of his three sons, if not all three of them.  As a father of three boys, I understand the difficulties and the hardships involved in taking your children hunting with you.  We fathers share a keen desire to have our children be successful and to enjoy the hunt as a much as we do.  In the end, we want them to enjoy spending time with us and it is more than obvious that Craig went to great lengths to ensure that the boys had a good time when they were afield.

By far, my favorite part of the book was Craig telling the story of his son Matt's first bird.  In bird hunting, a young man’s first bird is always special and to be a part of that even if only vicariously, is something to be treasured.  This book is full of moments like that and I am confident that the reader will love each and every one of the boy’s firsts.

                                                         Matts First Bird



“My Mountain Grouse” wouldn't be a Grouse book without Grouse and Grouse dogs.  Like myself, the author has a love for classic Setters. Throughout the book he uses these noble gun dogs to pursue the Blue, Ruffed, and Franklin Grouse that occupy the beautiful mountains outside Boise, Idaho.  Blue Grouse are one of my favorite birds to hunt and there is no shortage of action in this book when it comes to gunning these birds.  If you are a fan of Blue Grouse, this is a book you will thoroughly enjoy.  In addition to Blues there is plenty of dog work on Ruffs and Franklin Grouse as well.  I have never hunted either of these birds and the wonderful photography that is showcased throughout the book enables the reader to understand the type of terrain that he or she will encounter when pursuing these birds.  The book is also filled with several of Craig's Journal sketches that to my eye, are very much influenced by the sketches of George Bird Evans and are almost as enjoyable as the writing itself.

All in all, "My Mountain Grouse" is a transfixing memoir of a man’s upland adventures with his three sons; Matthew, Nathan, and Kip and their ever present companion gundogs. It is an adventure that any upland enthusiast would be sure to enjoy.

My Mountain Grouse can purchased at





Thursday, September 12, 2013

Boys Becoming Men...

My passion is bird dogs and bird hunting, yet sadly I cannot remember the first gamebird that fell at my shot. I am however blessed with vivid memories of following coon hounds with my grandfather.  The most pleasurable memories I have of hunting with my grandfather was when I hunted not only with him, but with him and his friends.  There was something special about being included in the group of men who smoked cigarettes, chewed tobacco, and stole snorts of Dr, McGillicuddy's from the toolbox mounted in the bed of the truck. 

This weekend I was blessed to have been apart of young mans first introduction to hunting Blue Grouse in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  I can only hope that the few days spent together in the mountains chasing the sometimes elusive grouse was enough to instill a lifetime of love of for the birds, the dogs, and the men that chase them.  My greatest hope is that years from now he will remember hunts with his father and the men that accompanied them, just as fondly as I remember the hunts with my Grandfather and his friends.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Missed Opportunities

"In every species of fish I’ve angled for, it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory.  So I say it is good to lose fish.  If we didn’t, much of the thrill of angling would be gone." – Ray Bergman

I don't think any of us can say that we have never lost a fish. I myself am a perfect example of this and trust me when I say that today's trip to the Arkansas River was filled with some of the most heartbreaking losses of my short fishing career.  We have been experiencing some rather unseasonal weather the past week with temps dipping down into the teens and 1 to 4 inches of snow depending on your elevation.  The change of weather seemed to have drastically changed the feeding patterns of the fish, and we were really only able to hook up in short narrow deep runs with extremely fast and white frothy water.  The fast and deep water was holding some decent sized fish but they weren't hitting my stoneflies with any "gusto" and I struggled to get a good hook set and as a result lost at least 5 really good sized fish including one rainbow that went well over 20".  The loss of said fish may or may not have led to an epic temper tantrum such as the Arkansas has never seen....

Regardless of the missed opportunities, I still consider every day that I am able to spend in the outdoors a gift, and I will cherish the memories of these days afield for many years to come.  I am blessed at this point in my life to be living in one of the most beautiful locales that this country has to offer and days like today remind me that it is not always about our successes but the journey to these successes that is truly important.  And I for one plan to enjoy the hell out of this journey.  

                                        One of the few that I managed to get to the net today.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bamboo and Fishing Small Creeks

As some of you know, I started fly fishing last year and I have become a hopeless addict to everything fly fishing.  I even started tying this year and I am anxiously awaiting the perfect moment in time when I catch my first trout on a fly that I have tied myself from the feathers of birds that the dogs and I have harvested in one our many trips to the uplands. To further fuel my addiction I recently read a book authored by one of my favorite outdoor bloggers Erin Block.  The View From Coal Creek is short book detailing Erin’s experience building her first bamboo fly rod, and after reading her book I was dying to fish a cane rod on my favorite little cutthroat creek.  I researched bamboo rods online, talked with a few folks that had built their own cane rods and I quickly realized that fishing bamboo was something I wouldn’t likely be able to afford any time soon and as such I placed the thought way back in dusty shelf part of my brain where I keep all my other goofy ideas. 

You can buy Erin’s book here if you’re so inclined.

Fast forward to last Thursday.  My son and I were discussing our dinner options for the evening when the doorbell rang. After getting the dogs settled down I opened the front door and all that greeted me was the backside of my mailman as he walked back to his truck, but there on my front step was a PVC pipe with a return address from somewhere in California.  I had been expecting a package from the same gentleman for a fly swap that I was running, but this was much too large a package to be flies.  Curious, I took the package to the kitchen and was blown away by what was waiting for me when I screwed the cap off of that PVC.  Inside the package was a note telling me to try the rod and we’d work out the details later, but more importantly the package contained a beautiful handmade 3wt bamboo rod that the maker had aptly named “fishing small creeks.” 

So without further adieu I’d like to introduce to you “Fishing Small Creeks.”  Together we hope to experience everything that little cutthroat creek has to offer….

My little cutthroat creek.

Friday, February 15, 2013


February is month of waiting.....  I came to this realization tonight as I sat in the den with the fireplace roaring to my right and my dogs curled up sleeping behind me enjoying the warmth of the fire while dreaming of grouse and quail.  February holds no special place in our hearts.  We long for summer and the joys of wet wading the mountain creeks and rivers of southern Colorado.  We ache for the chill that an autumn morning brings as we crawl out of our tent eager see the chaos that a covey rise brings.  February has non of this and we are left simply to our memories of the previous year.  I hope you'll indulge my reminiscing as I anxiously await the days to tick by until I can watch a dry fly being engulfed by a hungry Arkansas river brown, or listen to the explosion like sound of a covey of quail as they rise before my gun.  February is indeed a month of waiting....