Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Wild Grouse Befriends Belle ATV Rider

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Wild Grouse Befriends Belle ATV Rider

Article excerpt

Grouse, unlike lightning, sometimes do strike twice in the same place.

Just ask Glen "Buck Chestnut. Twice in the past dozen years, a wild grouse has approached and seemingly befriended him. Both times, Chestnut was riding an all-terrain vehicle through his tree farm in eastern Kanawha County. Both times, he wasn't aware the grouse was there until it flew into his shoulder.

"This most recent bird hit my shoulder and landed next to the four-wheeler, said Chestnut, who is the mayor of Belle. "It was a young male. At that time in early November, it was about half the size it is now. I've patrolled the property at least once a week for the last 15 weeks, and the bird has come out to greet me almost every time.

On more than one occasion, the young grouse hopped into the four- wheeler's enclosed cab, perched on the passenger seat and allowed Chestnut to take him for a ride.

"One time, when I was cutting back the borders of some wildlife clearings, he stayed with me and watched me work for about four hours. If I hopped across the creek, he hopped across the creek. He followed me everywhere I went, Chestnut said.

It isn't unusual for grouse to approach ATVs. The revving of the vehicles' motorcycle engines sounds like the "drumming sound a male grouse makes when trying to attract a mate. Whether driven by curiosity or the desire to drive off a rival, male grouse sometimes fly straight toward the noise.

It first happened to Chestnut in November 2005.

That bird, too, struck the Belle resident in the shoulder. In fact it struck him three times in a 24-hour span.

He was on his ATV, headed toward his deer stand, when the grouse hit him and kept on flying. Later that day, the grouse flew out of the brush, struck him again and landed a short distance away. Chestnut was able to approach within 5 feet of the bird, but it wouldn't let him get any closer.

The following day, the bird struck him again and landed beside the four-wheeler. After snapping a couple of pictures, Chestnut started scratching in the leaves just to see what the bird would do. …

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