There’s nothing better than being in the right place at the right time. And that’s exactly where I was this past fall at 11:15 am on the third Friday in October. I had just broken out of a thick stand of young maple and birch and into a grassy log landing when Mia, a black-and-white pointer, locked up 20 yards away. I strode forward, reaching the dog just as a woodcock popped up and sped across the tops of the weeds, offering a rare open shot—which I took advantage of. The plump bird that Mia retrieved was a handsome male and made a satisfying lump in my game vest.
That day SSM Associate Publisher Terry Bombeke and I were hunting with Garret Booth, owner of Grey’s Outfitting, in Caratunk, Maine, and guide Jeff Pacheco. Grey’s is located in the Kennebec River Valley, in the central part of the state, and has access to hundreds of thousands of acres of ruffed grouse and woodcock country.
Garret is an experienced dog breeder and trainer and a registered guide in both Maine and New Hampshire. He runs Grey’s with his wife, Nellie, an accomplished dog trainer in her own right and a chef with more than 20 years’ experience in the restaurant industry. Together the two breed and raise Elhew pointers and field-bred English cocker spaniels and train all breeds of pointing and flushing dogs as well as retrievers.
Grey’s built its reputation on upland hunting, but it also offers waterfowling for sea ducks, divers and puddle ducks and big-woods deer hunting. Garret is in the field almost every day, so he is intimately familiar with the populations, locations and habitat conditions of a variety of game species.
When it comes to upland pursuits, make no mistake: Grouse and woodcock hunting is wild-bird hunting. And Garret makes it clear that a host of factors can affect the number of birds seen in a day. With decent weather and solid dogs, he considers experiencing 35 to 50 flushes a success. The day that Terry and I hunted was drizzling rain, and we still moved 26 woodcock and 17 grouse.
Hunters are welcome to bring their own dogs, though they should be mindful that this is big country and that their dogs need to be under control. Of course, the Grey’s guides will have “backup” dogs should clients’ charges need a rest.
Accommodations at Grey’s are at the Point House Lodge and several cabins overlooking Wyman Lake. Up to 20 guests can be hosted at a time. Nellie Booth, who doubles as a chef at a nearby restaurant, prepares all of the meals—including the mouth-watering pastries.
From the fine dining to the dogwork to the pride of place, the Booths are detail-oriented hosts with a passion for what they do. A line on their website says it all: “To us it’s about time afield with hunting dogs, seeing the beautiful country that exists up here, getting your boots muddy and developing friendships that last a lifetime.” No wonder sportsmen return to Grey’s time and again for a traditional Maine experience.
For more information, contact Grey’s Outfitting.