Perhaps more than anything, the ruffed grouse is a symbol. A symbol of all that is good and urgent about ‘the wild’, and our place in it.
For Tripp Way, Northeast Regional Director of The Ruffed Grouse Society, ruffed grouse and his pursuit of the bird represents many of the best things about hunting.
Way talks about some of those things in ‘Because They’re Wild’, a rich and heartfelt film by A.J. DeRosa.
Way speaks with admiration and deep respect for his quarry: “Because it’s such a difficult bird, you know, it’s like quality over quantity. It’s like if you take a guy out and he hunts for three days and he doesn’t shoot a grouse. And then finally he comes out and the moon and the stars all come together and he kills his bird, it’s that much more rewarding.”
“I find this to be one of the absolute pleasures of my life right now,” echoes Way’s hunting buddy, Perry Masotti, as he examines a bird he took. “And every one of these is a treasure. Truly.”
‘Because They’re Wild’ is part of Project Upland, a film series intended to promote the healthy future of upland bird hunting, as well as participation in The Ruffed Grouse Society. The hunting/conservation organization is leading the way in promoting wise use and preservation of ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat.
DeRosa hopes that his films will also inspire future generations of upland bird hunters to not only enjoy the challenge and excitement of ruffed grouse hunting, but to be caretakers and advocates of the resource.
He thoughtfully shares that “it is the reality that where I once hunted as a child, no longer has Ruffed Grouse. Not because of hunting or predation, but because as humans we forgot we are stewards to the forest. I hope we can help reverse the mismanagement of our forests, help grow a public awareness of healthy cutting, and as a result I hope some day my children’s children can build their own memories of this iconic bird.”
It’s clear that DeRosa’s film project is a true labor of love. He captions a photo of himself holding a ruffed grouse for the camera:
“Some people may only see a dead bird here. But those are the people that cannot look deep into a connection with mother nature. This Ruffed Grouse represents more thoughts than I can express in a brief post. It is a personal history, a moment captured in time, a sporting tradition, it is the symbol of a healthy forest, and it is food on my family’s table.”
In the film, Way passionately confirms DeRosa’s ethic of fair chase and stewardship of wild places:
And they’re wild birds! You know, in an era of instant satisfaction, where a guy can go down to a preserve, and he could put up thirty pheasants, and he could shoot twenty-five of them with his dog. You know, because they’re wild birds, I think that makes the appeal even sweeter.
We hunters are at a time in this country when our hunting lifestyle and traditions are under attack more than ever. We need to confront these challenges by being proactive and knowledgeable about the issues facing us, but also by being greater stewards of nature. We need to continue to lead the way and set the example in wildlife conservation for others to follow.
It’s important for each of us to join and help fund hunting conservation groups like The Ruffed Grouse Society. Share this film, share with others your passion for hunting, introduce someone new to hunting.
Click the link below to see Project Uplands film about turkey hunting.