Well, it’s back to the grind after a week’s vacation for the “October trip,” the annual ruffed grouse and relaxation week at the family getaway in northern Minnesota.
Besides the opportunity to kick back and spend a few days with friends, two of us managed to land tickets to see the Winnipeg Jets play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 17 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg — and we still got in a morning grouse hunt.
We also saw history made that night, as the Jets 2.0 scored their first victory with a 2-1 win over the Penguins. To say the MTS Centre was loud would be an understatement.
Grouse numbers, at least where we hunted, appeared to be similar to last year. We walked a lot of miles for the birds we encountered, but that’s part of the fun. It’s hard to top spending time in the woods on crisp October days in my book. I can only imagine what hunting would have been like if we’d avoided the monsoon rains of May and June, which likely hampered production.
Speaking of grouse, I had a voicemail from Paul Vasquez, the Grand Forks man who spent more than 24 hours in Beltrami Island State Forest after getting lost Sept. 30 while pursuing a ruffed grouse. Vasquez only had planned to make a short walk down a trail near the old Penturen Church when he encountered the bird, so he’d left his compass and matches in the pickup.
I wrote about Vasquez, who openly talked about his ordeal, for a story that that ran in the Herald on Oct. 16. When staff photographer Eric Hylden and I stopped by his house for a short visit the morning of Oct. 14, he was getting ready for a return trip to the forest.
I asked him to give me an update, and I’m happy to report the return trip was considerably less eventful than his previous hunting excursion.
“Everything went well,” Vasquez said in his voicemail. “I didn’t shoot any grouse, though — didn’t see too many.
“My son who was a first time hunter up there shot two, my friend Brian Vidden and I didn’t shoot any. Everything went well … went to the church. Nothing happened, pretty much everything like I expected. It went really good. Can’t wait to get up there.”