Take a journey on a hunter mentor trip in New Hampshire for ruffed grouse and American woodcock.
If there is one candid and honest reality of good mentoring, it’s that it requires a level of sacrifice and selfless courage — from surrendering one’s own uninterrupted time in the field to the revealing of our sacred covers that we hunt. We also live in a time of changing ideology and culture where leaving one’s own political and judgmental baggage at the door has become paramount. Ruffed grouse hunting is not considered for the faint of heart, as many continue to find out that challenge itself is very much a part of the allure.
The ruffed grouse is my outlet from life. I live my life for October and to be in the uplands it is just a release from all the stresses in life. Nothing is really going on other than me being in tune with my dogs and the woods… Some of my best memories hunting have been empty tailgate days.Joe Levesque – Northeast Regional Director of the Ruffed Grouse Society
Joe Levesque, Northeast Regional Director of the Ruffed Grouse Society, took it upon himself to mentor someone from a world that is often far from our nostalgic and vintage lifestyles: the black gun community. Alex Costa is owner of ANR Design, a company specializing in the manufacturing of holsters in Manchester, N.H. Alex’s love for the outdoors and family history of fishing (and eating the fish caught) drew him into taking a step towards hunting. But with barriers of entry — like learning ruffed grouse habitat, bird dogs, and other knowledge vital to this pursuit — it makes the want and need for a mentor prevalent.
“You can’t put a cap on how much nature is around you and how much wilderness is ingrained into you when you are just out there mucking along with your dogs . . . ”Alex Costa – Live for October
Converging on the north woods of New Hampshire along with friend Zach Hein, they took a journey into ruffed grouse and woodcock country at the end of October. With an unpredictable winter front, the hunting went from some of the best populations in recent years to hard days with minimal contacts.
From scoring American woodcock flights and first birds, this story shows the difficulties, the culture, the food, and the idea of being at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Going to hunting cabins elsewhere you just don’t see this level of heritage. You might have a couple photos from back in the day but you don’t have an entire cabin lined with the memories of two dozen people . . . To some people it might just be a trophy but that’s a memory for that entire group of folks that were here. And to just see that they have done this for forty, fifty, sixty years, that’s a lot of heritage. Its not something you see a lot of places.Zach Hein – CZ USA
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 35 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He has a passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.