First Time Grouse Hunter Help


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Axel Larson
November 11, 2012, 09:18 AM
I have been out at least 5-6 times and I have seen about three grouse. all did not present good shots, one I was walking up hill with a unloaded shotgun, the second flushed right on the side of the road walking back to the car, and the third had the road towards the back which was obviously not a safe shot.
I have tried making noise when walking through the woods, I have tried being quiet.
Is the area I am hunting in just not populated enough?
Am I just doing something wrong?
I would like to get at least a couple before the season ends in late December.

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JohnM
November 11, 2012, 09:39 AM
Sounds about normal. :D

ChefJeff1
November 11, 2012, 10:51 AM
Do you have a dog?

I usually find grouse in pairs or more but sometimes there's singles.

They sure are yummy, keep at it and have fun.

Axel Larson
November 11, 2012, 11:09 AM
No dog, which from what I hear helps a lot.

MrDig
November 11, 2012, 11:13 AM
Upland birds without a dog or at least a hunting partner are a heart attack waiting to happen. And sometimes seeing three birds in one trip is a great day.
I've been on walks for 3 to 4 hours and seen nothing but song birds and squirrels.
I generally don't hunt Grouse with the expectation of shooting one, I expect to get a nice walk with the slight chance of seeing them and even slighter chance of shooting one.

JohnM
November 11, 2012, 11:21 AM
A good dog is worth its weight in gold!

buck460XVR
November 11, 2012, 12:35 PM
While a good dog helps, grouse are one upland game bird that can be hunted quite successfully without one. Like all game animals, they need food, water and shelter. In the early fall look for any areas producing seeds, those can be as large as acorns or as small as pin heads. Berries, such as highbush cranberries and wild grapes are hotspots. Late fall and winter they will be wherever there are tender buds such as birch or poplar/aspen. In dry weather, they will be close to a water source. Walk quietly, but stop often. When you stop, make sure you are in a spot where you can shoot. Many times grouse will let you walk by them if you keep walking, but get nervous when you stop and will then flush and give you a shot. Snow can be a great help if you are in doubt of grouse populations in the area. Their tracks are very obvious and lack of tracks in old snow means there are no grouse around. In deep fluffy snow, look for holes in the snow that look like someone threw a snowball. Grouse will often dive into this type of snow for cover, leaving little scent and no tracks for predators.

Jason_W
November 11, 2012, 12:59 PM
In addition to the above, apple trees are your friend.

One method I used to employ when I lived in VT was to wait near apple trees in late afternoon and plug the partridge with a .22 as they came in to feed on the deadfall apples.

Now that I've moved to Maine where there aren't so many old apple stands, I've found that walking abandoned logging roads around midday is a good method as the birds move onto the roads to eat gravel for crop stones.

I shot two a few weeks ago using that method. It should have been four, but I messed up two shots.

Hunterdad
November 11, 2012, 01:29 PM
I find that grouse will generally hold their ground when you walk by. I like to walk right up to a spot I may think holds a bird and stop dead in my tracks. They will usually get scared enough and take flight.

Axel Larson
November 11, 2012, 02:25 PM
Thanks for the hints everyone.

Jason_W
November 11, 2012, 03:03 PM
Once you learn how to spot them before they take off, the game gets a lot easier.

JohnM
November 11, 2012, 03:15 PM
Wanna see a train wreck, have a big old ruffed blow out from under a spooky saddle horse while you're pulling a string of equally goofy pack horses! LOL

d2wing
November 11, 2012, 06:25 PM
I have had better luck without a dog on ruffed grouse. Walk slowly and stop often. Peek under thick cover. They seem to like hillsides and thick cover. They like to flush when you aren't ready.

Patocazador
November 11, 2012, 10:27 PM
If you're waiting for easy shots on ruffed grouse, you'd better hunt them in Canada or out West. In Wisc. and Minn. it's like trying to shoot in a crowded basement with wash all hung on lines. Of course the washed clothes are tree branches and undergrowth and it's all been snap shooting in my experience.

Liberty1776
November 11, 2012, 11:08 PM
JohnM and patocazador nailed it.... that's normal, and it ain't easy... (sure is lots of fun, though...)

fragmag
November 12, 2012, 06:52 AM
Some pretty good tips, thanks for sharing.

1KPerDay
November 12, 2012, 11:34 AM
If you're waiting for easy shots on ruffed grouse, you'd better hunt them in Canada or out West.
ha hahaaaaaaaa! :D *wipes tears away*

oneounceload
November 12, 2012, 11:58 AM
one I was walking up hill with a unloaded shotgun

Well THERE'S one issue why success eluded you

you'd better hunt them in Canada or out West.

Spoken like someone who has never been - having lived for 23 years in northern NV, it isn't easy - want even harder? Go out there and hunt chukar on the shale slopes

JohnM
November 12, 2012, 12:45 PM
CHUKAR !?!

One bird per box of shells and bruised and bloody after a long day of scrambling up and down loose cliffs trying to get just one more shot at those miserable creatures that cover ground on foot faster than a marathoner!

Patocazador
November 12, 2012, 12:56 PM
Spoken like someone who has never been - having lived for 23 years in northern NV, it isn't easy - want even harder? Go out there and hunt chukar on the shale slopes


Sorry one oz. but I hunted Wyo., Mont. and Wash. and found the grouse there to be easier to hunt because the hunting pressure was far less than in the Midwest. In fact, I shot several in Wyoming with a .38 special sidearm.

Chukar are an entirely different story. Only a masochist would subject himself to that more than once .. even with dogs. You are welcome to my share but I'll help you eat them if invited.

CmpsdNoMore
November 12, 2012, 10:44 PM
While running a 26 miles trap line on an ATV for two weeks on October I would see 3 - 8 grouse every day. They were generally right on the sides of logging roads (narrow and wide) and wouldn't flush until I was right on them.

I wanted to get out and get a few for dinner, but I never had the time.

They are interesting birds. One day I saw 3 on the half mile driveway, one of which thought it was safer to run down the driveway in front of the car rather than fly away. The very same day someone I know was hunting the same property and didn't see a thing.

Axel Larson
November 12, 2012, 11:28 PM
The reason the gun was unloaded was because the hill was very steep, as in almost cliff like, and I thought it was safer unloaded, since my balance would not have allowed me to take a shot if I wanted.

outboard
November 15, 2012, 05:04 PM
I put grouse hunting in same category as walking the dog. At the end of the day... well at least we got some exercise. I routinely flush several per day with a .30-06 in hand when I'm out for elk, sure do scare the heck out of me sometimes. I'll often see them along side the forest roads when I'm driving up there. However when I go afield with the 870, a pocket full of shells, my dog and a PB&J sandwich I rarely see grouse, but often see a host of other wildlife. I love grouse hunting, I been at it a while, and maybe some day I'll even be good at it.

As for Chukar hunting I don't know that i'll ever be "good"at it (its a long and dusty road).Someone once told me the first time out for Chukar is for fun, there after its for revenge. Nothing like scaling ledges and steep slopes, huck'in yourself 10 or so miles in the most god forsaken county only to hear them (the chukar) laughing at you from some always distant haunt. I usually go until my dog starts looking at me like I'm nuts, then I call it a day. A good day of Chukar hunting usually means I come home with a rabbit or two.

Did I mention I'm going out for Chukar again tomorrow?

Patocazador
November 15, 2012, 10:42 PM
As for Chukar hunting I don't know that i'll ever be "good"at it (its a long and dusty road).Someone once told me the first time out for Chukar is for fun, there after its for revenge. Nothing like scaling ledges and steep slopes, huck'in yourself 10 or so miles in the most god forsaken county only to hear them (the chukar) laughing at you from some always distant haunt. I usually go until my dog starts looking at me like I'm nuts, then I call it a day. A good day of Chukar hunting usually means I come home with a rabbit or two.

Did I mention I'm going out for Chukar again tomorrow?


You're a sick, sick boy. You need professional help.

JohnM
November 16, 2012, 10:49 AM
:D:D
I was up on the bench just a few days ago looking for some of those mythical chukars. The "bench is a layer of glacier boulders and gravel covered with sagebrush just south of the house.
Gotta wait for another day when the Wyoming breeze is blowing enough so you need a stampede string to hold your hat on and I'll have to go again. :)

Sav .250
November 16, 2012, 02:19 PM
Grouse tend to make all look stupid. You have to be cat-quick with your shotgun.
Not much aiming going on ...........................just point and pull.

Axel Larson
November 17, 2012, 08:27 AM
Managed to take a shot at one the other day, missed though:banghead: did not have a big enough lead.

Jason_W
November 17, 2012, 12:16 PM
Yeah, once they get in the air, they're usually pretty safe.:D

Over the years I learned a few dirty tricks that often enable me to shoot them either when they're on the ground or perched in trees.

Patocazador
November 17, 2012, 04:25 PM
Managed to take a shot at one the other day, missed though:banghead: did not have a big enough lead.
If it's tight cover, you can't worry about lead. Snap-shooting is the order of the day.
Any time a shotgunner starts using his brain instead of his instincts, he's going to miss. I didn't learn that valuable lesson until I was 66 years old. I could have saved thousands of dollars on shells over the years if I learned it in my 20s. ;)

shafter
November 17, 2012, 05:45 PM
Nothing is guaranteed with grouse (or with anything else) and they can be found just about anywhere in the woods, however there's a few good places to look.

1) Edges. Grouse like edges such as hardwood meeting softwood, overgrown fields, stone walls, logging roads, and lightly traveled gravel roads.

2) Hunt early mornings and you will probably flush them from trees. If you flush one be ready, there is often more.

3) BE READY! This means at all times. Grouse have a nasty habit of flushing when you're bending over to climb under a log, or even when you're taking a leak. One flew in just as I was doing that one day and I got him.

4) On rainy days hunt the pines. Grouse don't care for getting soaked and prefer the shelter thick pines provide.

5) Learn to spot them on the ground or in trees. If you're hunting old apple trees don't go barging in. Scan the trees and the ground beneath them first. If you spot them first you have a huge advantage even if you don't shoot them sitting still. Often just before dark you can spot them feeding high up in birch trees or any other trees that produce catkins. They go to the very top and are pretty easy to spot against the sky.

That should be a good start for you. They aren't a complicated creature to hunt but they can be frustrating and you have to be persistant. It's also great exercise!

shafter
November 17, 2012, 05:48 PM
One of a grouse's biggest advantages is the sound they make when they take flight. Once you become imune to the surprise of it the game gets alot easier. Throughout the year whenever you are in the woods get in the habbit of raising your walking stick like a shotgun whenever you flush a grouse. It really does help.

Jason_W
November 17, 2012, 06:13 PM
Nothing is guaranteed with grouse (or with anything else) and they can be found just about anywhere in the woods, however there's a few good places to look.

1) Edges. Grouse like edges such as hardwood meeting softwood, overgrown fields, stone walls, logging roads, and lightly traveled gravel roads.

2) Hunt early mornings and you will probably flush them from trees. If you flush one be ready, there is often more.

3) BE READY! This means at all times. Grouse have a nasty habit of flushing when you're bending over to climb under a log, or even when you're taking a leak. One flew in just as I was doing that one day and I got him.

4) On rainy days hunt the pines. Grouse don't care for getting soaked and prefer the shelter thick pines provide.

5) Learn to spot them on the ground or in trees. If you're hunting old apple trees don't go barging in. Scan the trees and the ground beneath them first. If you spot them first you have a huge advantage even if you don't shoot them sitting still. Often just before dark you can spot them feeding high up in birch trees or any other trees that produce catkins. They go to the very top and are pretty easy to spot against the sky.

That should be a good start for you. They aren't a complicated creature to hunt but they can be frustrating and you have to be persistant. It's also great exercise!

This poster knows their stuff!

Fight dirty and you'll end up with bacon wrapped partridge breast on the grill.

rallyhound
November 20, 2012, 12:27 AM
In Minnesota at least a flushed grouse almost never goes very far.
If you don't get a shot watch where they go and follow slowly watching about 6-10 off the ground and you will get many second chances.

they seldom travel more than 100 yards in flight.

elkdomBC
November 20, 2012, 12:37 AM
I had a Ruffed Grouse take out the grill on my GMC Sierra 4x4 yesterday,, he ended up stuffed, not ruffed,, flattened against my radiator,,,,,,,,,,,

YOU send me $200 (insurance deductible):scrutiny:

I will send you fresh, frozen Canadian Grouse,,,,,,,;) it was minus-23 here yesterday !

hq
November 20, 2012, 04:02 AM
That should be a good start for you. They aren't a complicated creature to hunt but they can be frustrating and you have to be persistant. It's also great exercise!

Very good advice.

I could add that the larger the grouse, the more it likes elevation. This doesn't mean sheer altitude but small, steep hills and such - it's much easier to take off downhill. An alternative to thick pines on rainy weather is on ground level under spruces, fallen tree trunks and so on; basically anything that keeps the birds dry. Another thing is to walk very slowly and quietly, I've had snow grouse flush literally at my feet on several occasions.

The major threat to grouse is birds of prey. On clear weather they like some kind of "air cover" too, and try to be as hard to detect from above as possible.

On the other hand, I recommend using a well-trained dog, preferably a pointer. A dog rarely misses even a single bird, it'll notify you about their presence well in advance and grouse have a tendency of trying to lay down when a threat approaches. That's where the pointing part comes in; I have pictures of my weimaraner pointing black grouse on the ground, 15-20ft away and the birds just stay put. Flushing happens on command; it would be unsportsmanlike to not give them a chance and shoot them on the ground.

While it's possible to hunt grouse just walking around, a dog is really a game changer.

richie
November 20, 2012, 09:20 PM
All good tips to find them, to hit them, I always use IC choke and #8 shot.

RustHunter87
November 20, 2012, 10:05 PM
YA, solo grouse hunting is a exercise in frustration for sure
Ive been at it for 3 or four seasons now, I think I got 2 of them last year:cuss:
I'm going tomorrow lol:D

Daveboone
November 22, 2012, 07:29 AM
I love my grouse hunting, but consider it a reason to go for a nice walk in the woods. I concentrate on apples, alders, poplars, and lumbered areas a couple years old. Stop frequently. IF in likely area, it makes a nearlby grouse nervous and they will bolt. They sometimes run like the dikens on the ground, too. Grouse populations run in about a 10 year cycle. Around here (in NY ) it is on the high end of it. I am not sure if it varies depending on where you are. You could contact your local DEC or Grouse Unlimited chapter to learn more.
Generally, we count our grouse hunting success with the number of flushes. Have patience. Have fun.

shafter
November 22, 2012, 12:21 PM
Last year as well as this year are really good for grouse in Maine. I suspect we're near or at the top of the cycle. I flushed a bunch of five yesterday but none gave me a shot.

RustHunter87
November 22, 2012, 06:42 PM
I hear it been a good year for birds but not in my area, they were all over last year

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