When it comes to upland hunting, few pursuits are as steeped in tradition as grouse and woodcock hunting in the North Woods of Maine. The romance of following pointing dogs through forests and old farmlands for fleeting chances at challenging birds is what lands this hunt on so many wingshooters’ bucket lists.
Leen’s Lodge, on the shore of West Grand Lake, in eastern Maine, has been delivering this unique experience to sportsmen for more than 60 years. Hard against the New Brunswick border, Leen’s is a traditional Maine sporting camp, with rustic cabins scattered among towering pines and ambiance to spare. Come fall, the region is awash in spectacular foliage, with woodstoves piping smoke into brilliant skies.
Leen’s offers the quintessential New England hunt on more than 350,000 acres of accessible land. Guides and dogs lead clients into coverts of second growth, overgrown farms and alder runs—prime habitat for grouse as well as resident woodcock and birds moving south out of Canada. Crisp October days see hunters working edges and pushing through cover, with shots often taken through trees or small openings at jinking feathered blurs.
Keep in mind that these are wild birds in wild country, with the effort made finding game often commensurate with success putting birds in the bag. Several grouse and woodcock in the vest at day’s end typically represent trophies hard won and are cause for celebration.
In late afternoon hunters return to the lodge for appetizers and drinks while enjoying spectacular sunsets—reliving the day’s adventures and shots made and missed. Then it’s time to tuck into a cut of prime rib or the quintessential Maine supper: a fresh lobster pulled from the ocean that morning. After dinner there may be a game of cards or a bleary-eyed session in front of the TV before collapsing into bed to rest up for the following day.
No matter how you look at it, a trip to Leen’s Lodge is a one-of-a-kind experience. From the classic New England cover to the iconic accommodations to the traditional hunting in the land of moose and maple syrup, the adventure is one not soon forgotten—and one that for many becomes an annual calling.