Eating Trout and Grouse, but Still Awaiting Elk


Brungardt pithed the trout, later gutted in camp, and again presented its stomach contents for our admiration before sliding it alongside Foy’s cached trout from the day before. Brungardt pan-fried the trout for dinner, making me feel spoiled after eating little except Mountain House meals the previous 14 years of Idaho elk camps.

Three days later Foy and Brungardt took their shotguns for a walk, hoping to jump dusky grouse, a Western bird everyone called “blue grouse” until biologists scolded and shamed everyone into complying with their name preference. Even though Foy and Brungardt hunted both blues and duskies, they saw neither that day.

Undeterred, Brungardt hunted grouse again the next day, first through the valley behind camp, and then up the ridge 1,000 feet above. Just when he became convinced the forest cover was too thick to hold duskies, one of the phantoms burst into the air and perched in the lower branches of a Douglas fir. A burst of pellets from Brungardt’s 20-gauge shotgun claimed our elk camp’s first grouse.

Seconds later a second dusky made the same mistake, and another shotgun blast doubled Brungardt’s bag.

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