BAYFIELD COUNTY — During more than 30 years of traveling to northeast Wisconsin to hunt ruffed grouse, I've seen out-of-state vehicles along county and town roads, at resorts and local eateries.
A group of five hunters, most from Atlanta, Georgia were recently here hunting grouse. They were conspicuous by their habit of wearing hunter orange jackets, vests and caps. Most Wisconsin hunters save that until gun deer season.
Darrell Gunby has been driving 1,700 miles to northern Wisconsin for nine years and more recently coaxed his daughter, Payton Gunby, now living in Texas, and two other men, Mike Wrinkle and Mark Wyatt, to try Wisconsin.
A local, Jonny Heikkila, from nearby Barnes, Wisconsin, is a friend of the Georgians. Heikkila recently left Delta Diner, famous for its three-meat hamburgers, and other celebrated morsels. That’s where he and the Georgians first met and talked grouse and duck hunting.
This group of hunters has often run into two hunters, from Tennessee, who have been here during grouse season for the past 30 years.
Minnesota grouse hunters are common, too, during October.
This year, when bird populations are not high, the five hunters have averaged about 10 flushes a day, but they weren’t grumbling. They love Wisconsin’s northern forests, the scenery in general, and the friendly people they have met during the past decade of hunting here.
Their stay was about a week, but it's sometimes longer. Most of them are dog lovers and know shotguns, too, from 28 gauges to 12s. Their pickup kennels up to 12 dogs, so they always take two or three along in the forest.
These guys know about woodcock, but leave them to the woods. Turkeys have piqued their interest of late, particularly since any bird is legal during the autumn season.
It wouldn't be surprising should they buy turkey licenses.