Any Grouse hunters?

Discussion in 'Upland Game Forum' started by SkolMNDuckHunter, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. SkolMNDuckHunter

    SkolMNDuckHunter Senior Refuge Member

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    I grew up in western MN with no grouse. I've now been over on the eastern side for a couple years and would love to get out and try for grouse. I'm an hour at the most south of good grouse territory.

    I just don't really know how to do it! Do you just walk in the woods? Do they prefer grasslands like pheasants? My dog is pretty solid on waterfowl and generally knows what to do on pheasants, so I think she'll figure it out. I just want to give us a good chance to find something.

    How about shot size and type? I would think just some basic lead 6s based on bird size, but help me out if I'm wrong there too.
     
  2. Rogue Hunter

    Rogue Hunter Elite Refuge Member

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    uplandjournal.com You will find all you need to know and more.
     
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  3. Native NV Ducker

    Native NV Ducker Mod-Duck Hunters Forum, Classifieds, and 2 others Moderator

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    I will tell you how I do it here, but it won't help you much.

    I have a canyon down the road that has a 2-track road up it. Our area has lots of trails like that. It goes up about 3 miles to top out. I put the dog on the back of the 4-wheeler and go down the road to the trail. We go up a couple hundred yards, then let her off. She runs the road in front of me. If she drops off down into the 'canyon'n (bout 40 yards to the bottom) I stop and get the shotgun. She usually won't drop off like that unless she smells something. If she jumps a bird, I may get a shot, or they may just fly into the first tree, in which case, they die.

    Once we get high enough that I know there are rarely birds any higher, we turn around and start back down. There are a few 'seeps' along this trail, and generally the birds are closer to that water. On the way down, she knows (she taught herself) to drop down into the bottoms, and she kicks out the birds she didn't smell on the way up. Again, I may get flying shots, but usually no time for that on the way down, so I watch what tree they go into. Canyon is so narrow that if they go into a tree, they are usually in range.

    Best part is, I don't have to go down to the bottoms and get the bird, she is already there.

    Ours are Blues/Dusky, and some Ruffed. Love the big birds.

    Then, of course, there is the Sharptails, but they are like hunting quail, in the rolling hills of Central MT.

    6's are fine, I use my 20ga and 7 1/2's. They are not a tough bird if you can put a pattern on them. I have also brought a .22 on occasion to pluck em out of the trees.
     
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  4. SkolMNDuckHunter

    SkolMNDuckHunter Senior Refuge Member

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    Thanks for the tips! Native, not quite sure that your method will help me at all, but I appreciate the effort of typing it out all the same. It sounds like a very good method to your very specific piece of paradise
     
  5. Rogue Hunter

    Rogue Hunter Elite Refuge Member

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    Sorry, I was trying to do two things at the same time earlier. Yeah, look at upland journal, lots of info and REALLY good people there. They can reference books to read, pick one and read up on grouse before season. Two good general areas to start are Rum River State forest and Nemidji state forest. Grouse like young poplar and hazel brush early in the season. As winter comes on they will be closer to pine trees. They say Grouse are a bird of the edges, line between poplar and hard woods, forest grassy areas, pine and poplar, etc.

    What breed of dog do you have? Most dedicated grousers will run English Setters, English Pointer, GSP. Grousers will also use spaniels and other flushing breeds like labs, but the spaniels are better. Pheasant is a different animal, but a good, birdy dog can catch on to flushing grouse as long as they work close to you.

    The thicker the cover the better the hunting. Your shots will be from zero to 20 yds and if using a flusher you have to learn to mount your gun at the sound of the bird flushing, waiting until you see the bird and it will be gone before you get a bead on them. The hardest thing to learn is to learn to shoot at the bird as it bobs and weaves through the brush and trees...no open country in the grouse woods.

    I, as well as many grouse hunters use sxs's. Some will load one barrel with 7 1/2 and the other with 6's. I shoot 7 1/2's in both barrels. 7 1/2 are the most common load out of 16, 20, and 28ga. 12ga is over kill, but do work.

    Any other questions? I also post over at upland journal.

    Stephen
     
  6. SkolMNDuckHunter

    SkolMNDuckHunter Senior Refuge Member

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    Wow thank you, Stephen! That's about as good advice as I could have hoped for. I have a small black lab (55lbs) so hopefully she can work through the brush. She can find birds and always works very close to me, like within 30 yards most of the time. I'm only about an hour from the Rum River state forest, so I'm pretty excited that that's a good starting point. Heading further north can add up the driving hours pretty quick.
     
  7. Rogue Hunter

    Rogue Hunter Elite Refuge Member

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    A smart Lab should be able to figure it out. Some people go out opening weekend and fight their way through the heavy brush/leafs, shooting at any sound. Not very safe in my opinion. I don't start hunting until half the leafs have fallen, second or third week of season. Couple more things I thought of: go onto the MnDNR web site, and find the section that shows wma's and hunter trails. Should give you an idea for more areas than I referenced. Also, some county websites also shows county land to hunt. Another thing, if you don't already have a DeLorme Atlas of Minnesota, buy one! It will shown most forest trails (fire lanes that you can drive on) on public land, very helpful.

    I have a year old English Setter that is ready for her first full season. My first dog. Lots of question yet to be answered with her hunting and manners. So, I'm sorry, but I don't feel comfortable inviting you to go with us. But, who knows, we may run into each other out in the woods. I drive a Silver Toyota Tacoma with a Leer topper. Say hello if you see me.

    Where in Western MN?

    Stephen
     
  8. twall

    twall Senior Refuge Member

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    I lived a year in Crookston. I would hunt state lands to the east of town. The grouse population was at the higher end of the cycle. The woods I hunted were 50-100 yards wide and miles long. It was not unusual to flush 5-10 grouse in an hour or two. Since the woods were narrow the birds flushed either in front or behind. It really helped to learn what grouse cover was. It made it easier to hunt the larger woods in the National/State Forests. Those woods were still more difficult to hunt since birds flushed all directions of the compass. I hunted with a lab that would hunt close. I am not one for long shots so I like my dogs to hunt close. It also lets me read the dog so I am not as easily caught by by surprised by flushing birds.

    I was spoiled by my first exposure to grouse being NW MN. It has been 30 years since I lived there, it was a great time.

    Have fun,

    Tom
     
  9. SkolMNDuckHunter

    SkolMNDuckHunter Senior Refuge Member

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    Thanks a ton! Originally from near Alexandria, then went to school in Marshall and worked in Granite Falls for a while. Now I'm in the NE metro
    I drive a black Ram. It would be cool to run into each other.
     
  10. SkolMNDuckHunter

    SkolMNDuckHunter Senior Refuge Member

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    That sounds like an awesome first crack at grouse. I don't expect to be all that successful, but I'd really like to shoot a few!
     

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