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.