Got Grouse?

Reader Amanda Krupp sent me this story of her first hunting experience. I thought it was a nice tale of rookie triumph, and figured I’d share it on the blog. Here’s Amanda! –K.H.

  I was raised in a family that never invited the females to hunt, so I was excited when my new boyfriend invited me up to his cottage for his friends' annual grouse hunt. I had always been friends with guys and had never gone hunting before, so I never thought twice about attending (or in the friends' mind, invading) a traditionally all-male hunting/bonding weekend. I'm sure most of you can guess that I wasn't warmly welcomed. I walked in first to the cabin and none of the guys even raised their head fully to acknowledge me, let alone to greet me. That first night was filled with drinking and games, none of which I was invited to participate in.  
  The next morning we headed out for our first hunt. Everyone hunted in groups of 4-5 people and walked in a line through the woods. As I had only shot a shotgun once, and was trying to figure everything out, I found the safety concerns and trying to stay in the appropriate line very distracting. No one shot a thing. So when we returned for lunch I grabbed a sandwich and said I was heading out on my own for a while and would meet them at the trailhead when they arrived. No one even bothered to look my way.  
  I grabbed the shotgun and the pickup and headed to the trail. I wasn't sure exactly what to do, but I found that being alone allowed me to really get connected with my surroundings. Three times I could actually sense where the grouse was before it took off, but of course, the first two times (being a novice shooter) I tried to fire without taking the safety off. The third time the bird flew up, I shot it, and it fell. Looking back later, I'm lucky it died instantly because I would have had no idea what to do if it were still alive!  
  No one expected me to hit anything, so I wasn't given any carrying device, so I shoved it in the large side pocket of my army pants. As I didn't know how long meat could last outside of the refrigerator, I took of at a run down the trail. Of course I had to stop and walk slowly (a.k.a. coolly) when I saw all the guys loading their guns at the trailhead. Only one guy was nice enough to lift his head and ask the requisite question "Did ya get anything?" All heads popped up in surprise when I said "yeah," as no one had shot anything all day. Another guy, speaking for the rest, who didn't really believe me, said "Show me!" I proceeded to pull out of my pocket what was apparently a very large grouse.   
  From that moment on, my status turned 180 degrees from a nuisance female to "one of the guys."  That night I enjoyed being offered beers and was honored every time as the first person picked for games. I'm in!! –Amanda Krupp