As I let the dogs out, the chill air makes me shiver so I grab my jacket and put it on. I take care of such things as feeding the dogs and hauling my duffel into the cabin. Hellos and small talk accompany these mundane tasks but they are all part of the ritual and spirits are high.

When every thing is done and all is settled, cocktails are offered and we get down to the serious matters at hand. Coverts are discussed and the hunt itinerary is planned. Let it be said now, that after much discussion and voting, rarely have we ever followed this itinerary, every thing being thrown out the window on the drive to the first spot in the morning. But this is all part of the ritual and good does come of these discussions. Forgotten coverts are brought to mind and with them the tales of hunts past. This night the stories abound along with the laughter and after awhile the dogs are rounded up and put in their kennels and the lights are finally dimmed and we all head off to bed.

I awake to hear the sounds of coffee being made and by the time I pull myself to my feet, the aroma is wafting its way up to the loft where I have my bedroll. The cabin is chilly and I hear the whumph of the space heater as Roger fires it up. I climb down the stairs and to the pot like a bloodhound following scent. I fill a mug and grab my coat to go outside and let the dogs run. The air is cold and there is a trace of frost on the ground, a welcome sight. I feed the dogs and let the coffee mug warm my hands. Off in the distance I hear the drumming of a grouse, often heard in spring the male grouse will drum all year. Was this a portent? A sign of what awaits us today? Only time would tell.

Back in the cabin the membership is active doing those things as one does to prepare for the day ahead. More coffee and some breakfast topped off by whatever goodies Roger's wife sent along and we are ready to roll. In our wooded playground we have a seemingly unlimited supply of coverts to hunt and all are properly named, as all pa'tridge coverts should be. Rosy Creek gets the nod as the days first spot. Known more for its abundance of woodcock it still has its fair share of grouse. This mixture of alders, popple and clumps of pine is known to others and is a simple case of first come first serve. The air temp is fifty or so and just a slight breeze, perfect conditions in my book. We turn the dogs loose and anticipate a quick point for rarely is the time that there is no bird within the first twenty yards or so. Trigger the short hair and Parker the setter both go on point within seconds of each other. Kevin and I each walk to our dogs to make the flush, two single reports and two woodcock are in the bag, a fine start to what will be a great day.

There is something magical about those first cool days of fall, with the hint of color coming to the leaves and the forest ferns starting to curl and turn brown. Clear skies and a nip in the breeze, just enough to make you shudder if you stop to pause a moment. There is no urgency, and a stop here and there to pat the dog or savor the view only enhances the beauty as your senses take in the