Growing up I can remember the warm fall days when the leaves were falling and the sun was shining. I always loved autumn as a kid and when I got older and started to hunt it added an entirely new level of enjoyment for me. One of the main differences between where I grew up in SE Michigan and living here in the Western UP is that fierceness of mother natures march of the seasons. Fall was a drawn out process in my childhood with several stints of Indian summer but here although it comes in with the same warm days and gorgeous colors it progresses quickly and soon the trees are standing naked and the sky is turning grey. Now don’t get me wrong I am not complaining because when the trees stand with little leaves left, the sky turns slate, the temperature starts to drop and the winds start to blow that is when the diving ducks show up and there is nothing I love more than sitting on the big water, looking at the long lines of decoys and laughing at myself and the absurdity of hunting in such conditions. But before I get to that time between fall and winter and start chasing divers there are still a few warm clear days and because I know how quickly they will be gone it creates a sense of urgency to find some time to enjoy them before they are gone. This last week was filled with those days and I finally put an entire day aside and spent it following my Chessie Bella around the grouse woods. It was a perfect day, 50 degrees and sunny. Leaves were falling fast and we had lots of birds to chase. The only draw back was with 25mph winds I could not hear a grouse flush so I had to watch the dog even more closely to see birds take wing. Bella is five and a half now and is truly a joy to watch in the grouse woods. I don’t get the chance to follow here all by myself very often. Generally I am with other people and she needs to work for the group. But when its just the two of us I can let her nose lead the way. We find a lot more birds this way see lots more of the land and to see her figure out the puzzle and push those birds into the air.. its something special. I thought this picture summed up nicely the day and how lucky I am to have such large chunks of wild and public land to roam around on.