Grouse Hunting Tips
If you have ever had the opportunity to eat grouse, you most likely found it to be the most delicious bird you have ever eaten. While there are many recipes available, grouse wrapped in aluminum foil and cooked beneath a pit of coals for meat so tender and moist it falls off the bone simply can’t be beat.
Unfortunately, grouse hunting is limited geographically in the United States, making it a sport available to hunters located in the grouse’s limited range, or to hunters willing to travel for the best tasting bird on the planet.
Sadly, grouse populations are falling, with many areas already in the process of having grouse placed on the endangered species list. There currently remain a few territories with ample grouse populations to support continued hunting. Hopefully, the Fish and Wildlife programs will initiate a program to restore grouse populations along the lines of other endangered species, thereby providing for a continued future in grouse hunting.
Grouse hunting is similar to other fowl hunting. Your favorite dog flushes the grouse, and the sound of beating wings breaks the silence. You shoulder your shotgun and pull the trigger when the bird clears its cover.
A hunter knows the best way to bag a bird is to know its habitat and feeding habits, and hunters traveling from another state must study the bird in order to succeed. An out of state grouse hunter lacks the local knowledge, and unless you plan to hire a knowledgeable local guide, educating yourself beforehand of grouse habits and diet is the best way to ensure finding them. This knowledge can also be augmented by talking to local hunters in the region in which you plan to hunt.
Habitat will depend upon region. Grouse like the cover of woods, love it when water is nearby, and love little clearings within the woods even more. On the other hand, many a grouse has been taken in tall grasses and bramble patches. Grouse are often difficult to hunt, leading to an old saying among grouse hunters that before you can eat grouse pie you have to first learn to eat humble pie. Once grouse is eaten though, almost all will agree it is well worth the effort!
During the off season hone your shotgun skills with skeet, trap or sporting clays. Keep your accuracy and the fluid movement of shotgun to shoulder with practice and more practice.
Don’t forget to let your dog practice as well. Game farm practice in the summer is a great way to keep prized grouse hunting dogs in top form. The off season is a good time to further training on those dogs not quite up to par. Obedience training is a good place to start, and there are ample resources and guides available on training a dog to hunt.
The off season is also the time to have repairs performed on your shotgun if needed. Or, if you are planning to start the season with a new weapon, off season is the time to check out the guns for sale and to purchase one. You will want plenty of time to practice with a new shotgun and be thoroughly familiar with it by the seasons beginning.
Trust Your Dogs Nose
A dog’s sense of smell is by far keener than humans, so trust your dog’s sense of smell to locate birds and place the dog where he faces the wind.
Hunting without a Dog
Hunters without dogs can still bag grouse. Most grouse hunters recommend that you don’t circle possible habitat, move through it at angles and change your direction often. Break your line, that is to say don’t work in a straight line but move in an irregular path through the field.
Take the Shot
When grouse flush unexpectedly, take that shot even if you aren’t ready. It is almost guaranteed that grouse won’t be coming back to settle in again and give you another shot at it. Keep your eyes on the grouse-not your barrel. Point the barrel like a finger at the bird. Keeping your eyes on the bird also gives you a better idea of where it falls.
Use Your Ears & Eyes
Listen for the sound of movement, and if the wind is not blowing enough to move the vegetative growth if present, you can sometimes spot potential grouse by watching for the movement of vegetation in an otherwise still environment. This is especially true when hunting where grasses grow tall.
While most hunters prefer a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun, it doesn’t take much to bring grouse down. When firing through thick cover use nothing less than #7.5 shot for a humane kill. Most flushes occur within 15-17 yards and call for a more open choke for the best results.
Find Grouse Hunting Guns
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