A Review of "Idaho Ruffed Grouse Hunting" by Andrew Wayment
Updated: Jan 26
"On the other hand, with grouse, the forest instantly seems full of life and endless possibilities for beauty and excitement. A ruff grouse's drumming is the herald of spring and bears witness that life is again thriving in the woods. In the fall, the sudden thunder of a ruffed grouse's flush causes the hunter's heart to instantly flutter. A hunter never feels more alive than at the moment he gets a chance at Ol' Ruff. The ruffed grouse is more than just a mere game bird. He is the heartbeat of the woods."
This captures what I gathered from Andy’s book, “Idaho Ruffed Grouse Hunting”. Andy lives and hunts in Idaho chasing ruffed grouse all over the state. He has a deep and extensive knowledge of the great literary history of ruffed grouse hunting, often quoting William Foster, Grampa Grouse, and Burton Spiller, amongst others. I’m a bit of “quote snob” myself and enjoy reading “highlights” from some of the great writers. Unlike some hunting books where it is “I went here, I did this, I shot this, it was cool”; Andy’s stories are entertaining and connect with the reader. Andy does a great job of making the reader feel like he’s there with him walking through the woods waiting for one of his Brittany’s to go on point. When I am reading a hunting story, I typically want to be entertained, no offense, but I don’t just want to read a basic hunting report or after action report. This is definitely not a how-to book. There are 36 Chapters in all, each a different story or essay on grouse hunting, but all with one central theme: the ruffed grouse is the heartbeat of the woods". The book also contains some phenomenal artwork by well known artists and a few by some newer artists. If you enjoy the tradition of grouse hunting and you are passionate about the “king of all game birds”, you will thoroughly enjoy reading this.
Every hunter, especially an upland hunter knows the importance of naming our favorite fields or coverts. I was a duck hunter long before I became enthralled in the upland world and we would eventually name our favorite spots from run of the mill names like “Beaver Hole” to “the Toilet Blind”. Andy has multiple chapters where he discusses his favorite coverts, how they got their name, and why they’re important to him. In every name, there’s a story. While his covert’s names and stories are unique to him, we all have similar experiences in the field. In his chapter about the “Outhouse Covert”, I had to chuckle because of my own “Toilet Blind”. I'm sure that when reading this chapter, you'll think back to your own hidden spots that each carry memories that will carry on with you for the rest of your life.
There are a number of other chapters in this book that aren’t particularly a “hunting story”, but more of Andy putting his thoughts on to paper. I learned a lot from “Who is the Best Writer On Grouse Hunting” where he makes a strong case for one of his favorite writers. It also gave me a number of authors to look into and add to my collection that I had never heard of. One of my favorite chapters may have been his second to last chapter which is a “New Take on a Classic Tale”. Now we all know the story of Rip Van Winkle, but in this chapter Andy proposes that Rip Van Winkle was in fact a dyed in the wool brush worn grouse hunter. He makes a number of points supporting this argument and after reading that chapter, not only was I laughing, but also had to agree with him.
Obviously no good upland book would be complete without putting a large focus on the main reason we go, the dogs. Andy does not write to glorify or deify his dogs even though they are great bird dogs. He writes so the reader can see the dog in action, at times pulling off flawless points, at times busting a covey ahead of him. I feel that sometimes we get way too inundated with dog highlights, whether be in magazines, social media, or just lies we tell our buddies. I know I am guilty of it myself, so it is refreshing to see someone write authentic stories about their own dogs, the good along with the bad. As I said in the beginning, if you have any interest in upland hunting, grouse hunting, bird dogs, or just want to be entertained until the season comes back again, I would strongly urge you to order a copy. While you’re at it, go ahead and get yourself his newest book: “Idaho Upland Days”. If interested in ordering either copy, you can order on his website, Upland Ways, where you can also purchase a signed copy. Both books are available on Amazon as well.