Neither Tex or I had ever set foot in Montana until this trip so we were excited about hunting a new state. We made it up to the Hi-Line area near Hinsdale in search of sharptail grouse, hungarian partridge and hopefully some sage grouse. “Hi-Line” refers to rail line that runs through the area. It is the northernmost rail line in the country and is only 42 miles south of Canada.
We ran into birds every day, but not nearly as many as we expected especially given the great weather this year and rosy bird hunting forecasts. Maybe we need to realign our expectations when chasing grouse on the Great Plains! All things considered we had a great time. A terrific bunch of guys, nice weather (but a bit too warm), and an impressive amount of open country for the dogs to hunt and run made this worth the 13 hour drive from Denver.
One thing about these prairie birds, once they have been hunted it is tough to get close to them. They vacate quickly and typically leave no one behind. We found sage grouse by glassing the country with binoculars. That was a first for me and I was amazed that we spotted them.
These vast, empty plains are quite beautiful and you have to respect the folks who call this home.
Morning in the big sky of Montana
Below are some shots of the desolate BLM country we hunted for sage grouse. We did find some in this vast wasteland but they had most certainly been chased before as we could not get within 150 yards. It is beautiful country in a lonely sort of way.
Setter in sage.
Sharptail Grouse on the tailgate.
Tex is digging Montana!
Mouth full sharptail of feathers.
We covered a bunch of ground, of course the dogs ten times as much. This is one tired Tex!
This is Dodger, dog tired after a full day of endless running.
This is Zoey. She is 15 years old and I hope I see her again next year.
We did run into a few pheasants, but the season was not yet open.
Lucky enough to hit a double on sharps.
The last few seconds of the day.