Any Grouse hunters?

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

  1. fishnfool

    fishnfool Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    New Hampshire
    Cover. Cover. Cover. It's all about the right cover.

    You have 2 options:

    1. Read up as much as you can, get in the truck, hit the woods, and try and apply what you've read. This will take some time (maybe even a few seasons) to zero in on what you're looking for, but it's pretty rewarding when it all comes together.

    2. Tag along with someone who is experienced, or hire a guide. Once you know what to look for, you'll be able to quickly identify productive cover, and not waste your time working poor or unproductive cover, and your dog will pick it up much faster as well.

    I took a old college buddy out last fall who had never hunted grouse, and by the afternoon he could ID good looking cover like he had been doing it his whole life....something that took me seasons to figure out trying to go it alone.
    mister gadwall likes this.
  2. Rubberhead

    Rubberhead Elite Refuge Member

    Mar 6, 2002
    Moncks Corner, SC
    I live in the Lowcountry - I have to pretend these are grouse...

    Banded1 likes this.
  3. Banded1

    Banded1 Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    I grouse (ruffs) hunt in northern WI quite a bit. Edges of cover are what I prefer and edges of tag alders are my preference. If you happen to get one, check it’s crop to see what they’re eating and try to focus on areas with that food source. Where I hunt, wintergreen leaves and berries are a common food they eat at that time of year. Clover seems to be a favorite if it’s around. On dry years, I’ll focus on areas within 100 yds of water. On wet years, they could be anywhere. Hunting after a fresh snowfall is rather helpful to at least know if birds are in the area. Late in the season I focus in or near pines. If you’re hunting birds that get hunted, get off the roads beyond 100 yds or so. 90% or more of grouse hunters rarely step off a trail. If you can figure out a pattern, that same pattern generally works for a fairly large region.

    As for shot, I use 2 3/4” copper plated 6’s and cylinder choke. I just prefer using copper plated shot figuring if I happen to ingest a pellet, it’s better than straight lead and I’ve come across a lot of birds, mostly pheasants, that have a pellet from near misses. The birds with copper plated shot seem to heal and be fine vs those with plain lead shot often have festering wounds and die a slow death.

    I often hunt heavy cover most wont go through and I’d guess more than 1/2 the time I don’t realize I hit a bird I shot at. So it’s a good idea to have your dog go look in the area even if you think you missed. You’ll probably be surprised how many you recover that you were sure you missed.

    Ruffs are what I would consider to be about the best eating bird there is out of literally all birds. It is worth the effort to clean them whole vs just breasting them. I wish their skin was a little tougher so I could pluck them because I would. I season whole birds with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and a little EVOO. Let them sit for a day or two. Smoke them at 225-250* until the breast is 145*. They are excellent.
  4. pintail2222

    pintail2222 Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 8, 2002
    Collier Co. Florida
    I hunt grouse in NE MN. Superior national forest. I hunt along old logging trails and new growth - whippets. As well as ridges looking down both sides. You want to find food sources - berries - tree buds - sumac. You'll find them feeding around there. And look up - you'll find them roosting up in trees as well as on the ground prior to a flush.

    I like to take a few steps then the stop look & listen approach. You can hear them w/ fall leaves - they'll run to get open to take flight if need be.

    As for shot - I like 7 1/2 on a 16 ga w/ an IC on a light sxs.

    Stay away from the Hmong!
    mister gadwall and Rogue Hunter like this.
  5. bonasa

    bonasa New Member

    Sep 27, 2019
    I hunt ruffed grouse in NY, PA, ME. Habitat varies but is mostly the same with high density of stems for brood habitat and some 40+ year old aspen are almost always present in good "coverts", especially in their winter ranges where close hemlock swales provide thermal refuge. Areas where the skidders came through and a bunch of blackberry cane comes up is a start, as are old abandoned apple orchards, dense thickets of aspen or poplars are good early in the season as are alder swamp edges where you will find woodcock. Unless you are hunting in South Carolina where the woodcock claim the reed canes this is where you will most often find them as well.

    Any gun that points well and you can shoulder fast are the best guns for grouse hunting. The first couple of outings I have been known to tote the .410 double and copper plated 8's reloads over the pointers, really any woodcock trip that is enough too. Usually I am carrying the browning side by side box lock 20 gauge and low brass 7.5's, or a winchester 101 12 with trap loads 7.5. Late season 7.5 pigeon loads could give you the edge.

    In the grouse woods I have hunted over retrievers, flushers and pointers. I favor pointers for their bird finding ability, ground application, stamina and range.
    mister gadwall likes this.

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