Sep 17, 2019
Some years ago I wrote a book, The Urban Deer Complex. Growing up just outside of Boston, I was fascinated by the idea of whitetail deer being able to adapt so well to human environments. It inspired a whole section of the book I labeled “The Science of Fear.” Through rapid evolution accelerated by an encroaching urbanized environment, whitetails were able to pass down behavior that would allow them to distinguish between non-threatening and threatening human behavior. That ideology would subsequently put many a deer on my dinner table over the years, and although it is more complex than the summary here, I never thought it could apply to ruffed grouse.
In fact, the more deeply I dove into grouse hunting the less I thought about the idea of the conditioned responses of my quarry. A few times subtle remarks about grouse behavior from biologists got my wheels turning for a moment, but they always came to a halt.
Then I got a bird dog.