Sunday, 9 November 2014

#581 In the Field: Birds of the North Country, con't . . .

This blog is part of a series of posts about my island studio and cabin located on Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada.
The series starts with #568, posted September 24 of this year.
There are many earlier posts about the cabin that can
be seen by going to the blog index.

The focus of this post is the Ruffed Grouse and is a continuation of the last post.  The Ruffed Grouse is one of
many birds who do not migrate or move out during the frigid winter of the Canadian North Country.
They can routinely be seen year around on the island where my cabin and studio is located.

Below, is a detail from an original watercolor-tinted etching of a Ruffed Grouse.

Ruffed Grouse are territorial and stakes claim on a territory based on water,  food supply and cover - including vertical cover from raptors such as owls.  Decidious trees such as birch are a food source and conifers are needed for roosting and protection from weather and predators.  All of these things define grouse country and define the island.

Ruffed Grouse are a game bird and just like White-tailed Deer and other territorial species,  it's important to move the animals in the fall to prevent inbreeding and weakening of the gene pool.  The birds will fly the short distance to
other islands or the mainland to breed with other birds and the deer will swim off the island when pursued as well.
 Every ethical hunter and sportsman knows and understands this age old way of nature and conservation.
The hardy winter residents survive in the North Country, multiply in the spring, and survive on this planet.

Below, good Ruffed Grouse hunting can be found on the mainland on old logging roads.
The Canadians call the bird partridge and we like to hunt them with a bird dog.
We  have a Brittany named Penny who is in her element in the fall hunting Ruffed Grouse.
there is nothing like being afield with a bird dog on a glorious autumn day!

At right, Penny is loaded, eager, and ready for the morning hunt.  Ethics abound in every sport and the most basic in hunting
is the concept of fair chase.  There is a great axiom that
states a hunter's best conservation tool is a well-trained
dog . . . hunters have an ethical obligation to retrieve
what is shot and we rely on Penny's nose and
determination to find downed birds in heavy cover.

Below, is an image of a dog who lives the life she was
bred to live . . . exhausted and content,
in front of a wood fire, after the hunt.

Every fall we harvest one or two Ruffed Grouse from the island and eat them for 
Canadian Thanksgiving which is the second Monday in October.   
Ruffed Grouse are excellent table fare and is one of 
the most sought after north woods game birds.

Below, is a good recipe for cooking Ruffed Grouse.  Being a non-migrant, the breast meat is white and
almost any chicken recipe can be used when cooking the bird.  One bird per person works for us.

       Dredge the grouse in flour, salt, and pepper.
       In a cast iron skillet, brown breasts and legs 
       and mushrooms in butter, bacon fat or oil.
       Add a prepared white sauce such as alfredo, 
       mushroom soup, etc.
       Cover, simmer until cooked but not dry 
       During the last few minutes of cooking, 
       add sour cream.
       Serve with wild rice, pasta, or potatoes,
       caesar salad and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
       Also, a tart side-sauce such as cranberry is
       good with this.

Below, I use the wings and tail as reference in my bird sculpture workshops.

Below, is a little still life painting of a Ruffed Grouse in progress.
The island studio has beautiful north light.

Much of the inspiration for my art is gleaned from the wildlife and wilderness experience that surrounds the studio.
Trish and I have closed the cabin for the season but the influence and memories of the past remains.

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information. 

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

No comments:

Post a Comment