A great day in one of our covers. Join us for a grouse and woodcock hunt on Benelli's "American Bird Hunter" with my good friend Tom Knapp a couple years before his passing…experience it for yourself.
July/August 2016 issue…Shooting Sportsman Magazine. It features a couple days of ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting with good friend, Ralph Stuart, Editor Shooting Sportsman Magazine. Excerpt from article:
It’s a picture-perfect October day in the Minnesota grouse woods: a bit warm but clear, with a slight breeze rustling the foliage. We are in the afternoon’s final covert, working back toward the truck on an ancient logging road. The setter, of course, has no quit in him, and he continues searching with intensity. Until suddenly, mid-cast, his nose goes up and he spins. And just like that Jack is on point again, his stock-still form glowing white 50 yards into the alders. The bird fights its way through the branches, giving me plenty of time to prepare, and it’s the least I can do to tumble it as it clears the road.
That evening at dinner, I relive the day with the other guests at Little Moran. I hunted with guide, Bert Benshoof, and his string of setters, having a tally of 13 woodcock and nine grouse moved, which was about average for all parties, and I am glad for having taken two ruffs and a limit of "doodles". It is evident, though, that the other hunters, like me, are not here just to kill birds. The stories about dogwork and hunts past overshadow the small victories of game in the bag. It is the being here that is important—enjoying the traditions, camaraderie, and good times that are part and parcel to grouse camp.
I had first heard of Steve in 2005 through photographer Lee Kjos, who is not one to give praise casually. So when he said, "Grossman is the man. You need to get out here", I was in touch with Steve the next day.
My second day, I have the pleasure of hunting with "the man" himself: Steve "Grouseman" Grossman. And it takes but the short ride to the first cover to realize that Steve likely has forgotten more about bird hunting than I will ever know. It’s not that he is braggadocious. Just the opposite, in fact, Steve is one of the most humble, modest gentlemen you will meet. But get him talking about bird hunting, and his enthusiasm cannot be contained. He has a genuine passion earned throughout a lifetime spent in the woods and field behind bird dogs.
During a tailgate lunch we talk about Steve’s guiding career, which began in North Dakota in 1979. Five years later, at age 23, he moved back to Minnesota and started Little Moran—named for a small stream that runs through the family farm. Steve began training dogs for the late Jim Marti and Burnt Creek Setters and was given an English setter female, named Shiner, that was deadly on grouse. With Shiner, Steve began guiding Little Moran members for grouse and woodcock with much success, thus creating the legendary Grouse Lodge.
In 2014 Steve began operating Wild Prairie Lodge (formerly Prairie Wings Lodge), in South Dakota, where he is able to run his setters on wild pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge. He splits his fall, spending October in Minnesota and September, November, and December in South Dakota.
As Steve approaches 60, hunting is no longer about numbers but rather celebrating great dogwork, friendships, fine guns and the birds themselves. "It’s not about taking game," he says, "but how the game is taken." I couldn’t agree more.