Full Guide to Hunting Ruffed Grouse from Scouting to Tactics
Jul 03, · Ruffed grouse hunting tends to be a public land pursuit, whether it’s state or federal property or land that allows public access like logging country. Logging country and logging in general play a critical roll in good ruffed grouse hunting. Many hunters will often look for logging cuts that have occurred usually in the past 20 years. In order to figure out how to hunt ruffed grouse, you need to focus on a few key things. 1. Locating proper habitat for grouse. 2. Working your way through cover to flush the grouse. 3. Being prepared enough to get a quality shot off at the grouse. 4. Actually hitting the grouse.
A simple look at the basics can start the wheels turning into more advanced techniques and ideas for successful ruffed grouse hunting. This can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. For some a simple shotgun with a proper choke, some blaze orange and a decent pair of boots and the world of grouse hunting is at your fingertips.
For others it can progress to birds dogs, expensive side-by-sides, and tech clothing that considers every detail of the hunt. Both are correct, one is not better than the other. This is a user-based experience.
About the only real requirement of having a shotgun for ruffed grouse hunting is that you can shoot it straight. It does not matter how cheap or expensive it may be.
Most people will pick between a gauge to a gauge and some will venture as low as a. Considering the basic idea of what works well for you is often hatched out on a skeet range. For instance, I am a small framed person; put a gauge in my hands and my shooting accuracy starts to decline. Replace that with a or gauge and my numbers start to come up how to seek god with all your heart and soul. Use what works for you.
In a perfect world, you want to be able to choose the chokes that go in that shotgun. Ruffed grouse hunting usually starts with some very close shooting in the early season in thick foliage — calling for cylinder, skeet, and improved cylinder chokes.
As the season progresses and the leaves fall, shooting can start to extend range — situations where the improved cylinder and modified chokes make more sense. Check out this article on How to Choose Shot Sizes and Chokes by the Seasons to get an accurate look on both chokes and shot size selections. Blaze orange is always a must. Safety is a huge factor in any kind of upland hunting; add in dogs, some other hunters and everyone needs to be aware of locations. Past that, a pair of solid waterproof boots can be crucial.
Ruffed grouse hunting can take you through diverse landscapes ranging from wet areas to elevation based on the regions you are hunting. It also involves a lot of walking, so be comfortable. Other clothing that can make life easier and more evolved in grouse hunting can include such things as brush pants.
They are purpose-designed to keep those thorns and thick cover from tearing you up more than need be as grouse like thick and vicious escape cover. You may also want an upland vest or upland jacket that gives proper locations for stuff like shotgun shells and bagged birds. Now as much as many would like to tell you otherwise, a grouse dog is not a requirement. How to draw a dog standing a well trained bird dog certainly make ruffed grouse hunting a bit easier on life and bird recovery more efficient?
But just getting into something as complex as grouse hunting does not always mean diving in head first until we get some of the basics under our belts. Once you start thinking about taking the plunge into the exciting world of bird dogs check out the breeds available. Different breeds do things differently and not all people have the same wants or needs. The basics start as simple of choosing between a flushing breed or a pointing breed and then breaking how to do a comparison essay from there.
But before you even go that far, check out the Ruffed Grouse — Upland Game Species Profile to get a basic overview of this iconic bird. If you cannot identify where ruffed grouse live it will, of course, be pretty difficult to find one of these birds.
Getting a really good understanding of ruffed grouse habitat is crucial to finding birds. Ask yourself the questions: why was this bird here? Was it food, cover, something that sticks out that you will find elsewhere?
With time, you will begin to accelerate in this aspect and expand your areas to hunt. You can also narrow you focus on things like a food source and build your foundational knowledge from there without having how to hunt ruffed grouse understand all the nuances of how to do a full up extension habitat.
Logging country and logging in general play a critical roll in good ruffed grouse hunting. Many hunters will often look for logging cuts that have occurred usually in the past 20 years. Based on how fast or how slow that cover comes back can affect how soon or how long the cover is viable. The difference between a ruffed grouse and partridge is that one was in the air while the other was standing on the ground or a tree limb.
However, many of us have evolved from young days when this was a normal part of hunting life, part of growing into being a ruffed grouse hunter. This is a user experience and wherever you are on how to use plumbing snake path to being an upland hunter, you should enjoy it for what you want it to be as long as you follow the laws in the process.
At some point we all decide to start letting them get up in the air, or require a staunch point from a well broke bird dog. Just to make it clear, you should never shoot a ruffed grouse on the ground when a bird dog is involved for safety reasons.
Keep that ethical idea stored in your mind for hunts with bird dogs. Practice should be a cornerstone to however you decide to shoot these birds.
Skeet shooting was in fact invented by some passionate ruffed grouse hunters and makes a great way to familiarize yourself with your shotgun. You can check out some more detailed articles on wingshooting techniques like What is the Churchill Method of Wingshootingand Practicing Gun Mount. For those of you who venture into hunting without a bird dog, you will have to change your methodology a bit.
Instead of walking up onto pointed birds or hunting ruffed grouse with flushing dogs you will have to alter a bit of your behavior to increase your odds. How Pausing Causes Ruffed Grouse to Flush is a critical piece of advice than can make birds that feel safe in escape cover get nervous enough to surrender their positions with an unexpected flush.
After that, you will have to put in some extra work when recovering downed birds. The American woodcock is often hand-in-hand with the ruffed grouse. This migratory species will pass through grouse covers as they head south to winter. They can make for easier shooting and added excitement through a long day walking. Interested in picking up someone to mentor you or just talk about grouse hunting?
The Ruffed Grouse Society is a very welcoming organization that has many events set up for just that type of interaction. Ruffed grouse hunters are a diverse bunch and all sorts of people are ready and willing to help someone else pursue their passion.
Ruffed grouse is considered one of the mildest and most sought-after game bird meats. From a simple, oven roasted bird to more advanced recipes, the ruffed grouse is sure to be good table fare. Ruffed grouse can be pluckedskinned, breasted, and prepared in other ways. It can be aged and freezes well. We suggest how to crochet a headband ear warmer for beginners out our friend Hank Shaw from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook to get some great recipes and also check out his book Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail which takes a deeper dive into handling and preparing ruffed grouse.
We will constantly be adding more content under the ruffed grouse hunting category. We explore more advanced techniques, cultural articles, the history of ruffed grouse, and of course the critical conservation issues that threaten the future of this beloved upland game bird right now.
We will continue how to hunt ruffed grouse update this list as new films come out. While he is most widely known for the award-winning Project Upland series, he made his first mark in the hunting industry as the critically-acclaimed author of the cult classic The Urban Deer Complex and, more recently, The Urban Deer Complex 2.
Now a passionate bird hunter, you can find A. Nice compilation, AJ! Learn about grouse and grouse hunting with other like minded folks including time in the field with others or along with experienced grouse hunters and their dogs then meet back up to gather around the fire and really get the full experience.
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DeRosa A. DeRosa is an American filmmaker how do i fix bad sectors the Founder and…. Tags How-to Ruffed Grouse Upland. Grouse Hunting in the Snow. View Comments 2 Nice compilation, AJ! Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Hunting Ruffed Grouse in the Rain. Hunting Ruffed Grouse in Alaska.
How to Find Ruffed Grouse
Locate the Best Grouse Foods One of the most limiting factors to good grouse habitat is the availability of winter food. Fall is a feast: Apples, clover, wild strawberry, wild grape, cherry. Dec 24, · Locate the Best Grouse Foods One of the most limiting factors to good grouse habitat is the availability of winter food. Fall is a feast: Apples, clover, wild strawberry, wild grape, cherry. Aug 07, · How to hunt ruffed grouse. Some tips, methods, and basics to get you started on a successful bird hunt. The methods and tips in this video are largely base.
Ruffed grouse are sneaky and unpredictable. They thunder up in your face and disappear in a rib-cracking heartbeat. Generations of hunting pressure have given these birds a hair-trigger attitude and an arsenal of evasive tactics. Go with a light shotgun in , or gauge, weighing around six or seven pounds. Long barrels, meanwhile, will tangle in vegetation when swinging on a bird. Speed kills in grouse hunting because the birds are usually in thick cover and disappear from sight in a couple of seconds.
Cylinder or skeet choke is the way to go. Most shots will be less than 25 yards, and these chokes provide a lethal pattern for grouse out to 30 yards. The sooner your pattern expands, the better for close-range shooting. Switch to 6 after that, when shots may be a little longer and the birds more heavily feathered. Early and late in the day, hunt the edge of spruce or pine woods. Grouse roost in conifers at night, then usually fly down at first light to feed along the edge of the forest.
It takes fast shooting to knock down a grouse in heavy cover, because the bird will be in and out of sight for a couple of seconds. Fast shooting requires you to be at the ready at all times.
That means holding the gun in both hands, with the muzzle up near eye level out front and the stock down by your waist. And you should be poised to snap off the safety in an instant. Finally, scan ahead at eye level while walking, not down at the cover; a bird could explode up into your line of vision at any second. Grouse love edge cover. Edges provide a variety of food sources not found in mature, open forests.
Look for grouse where the ground is covered with salad—small, leafy plants, berries, seeds and mushrooms—not dense, long grass. Logged areas, year-old burns and overgrown farms that are being colonized with poplars are good spots to look, as grouse feed heavily on poplar catkins.
During winter, grouse stick close to clumps of conifers for warmth and shelter; evergreens break the wind and allow the birds to conserve vital body heat. On sunny afternoons, grouse will venture out to feed on the catkins of poplar, willow or birch trees.
Grouse escape by surprising you, but sometimes they give themselves away a few seconds before flushing. When a hunter approaches a covey of young grouse, the birds will scatter and make peeping noises to locate each other before flushing.
If you hear peeping, get ready. The same goes for rustling noises; grouse often run a couple of steps to find a clear flight path before flushing. If you hear the slightest noise or see a flash of movement under a bushy evergreen, for example, quickly walk around the tree. It could be a grouse walking to the other side to flush.
If you get halfway around the tree, you may get off a shot as the bird takes off. If you hear a grouse flush and try to look for it before mounting your gun, your chance may be lost. When your gunstock hits your cheek, the grouse should be coming up out of the thick understory somewhere beyond your muzzle.
If the bird is going straight away and rising, swing the muzzle up through it and touch off the shot the instant it disappears behind the muzzle.
If the grouse is crossing in front, swing from behind the bird, tracing the path it has just flown. Keep swinging through its body and touch off the shot when you pass its beak. In good cover, stop often and stand still for at least 30 seconds. But if you stop, they get antsy and flush. Only stop where you have secure footing and room to swing your barrel in any direction. If you wait for the birds to be totally in the clear before you tap the trigger, one box of shells will last you a lifetime.
There are a lot of pellets in a one-ounce load and some will get through the vegetation to the bird. If your target disappears behind a screen of leaves just as you swing ahead of it, touch the trigger anyway. A grouse should come tumbling back down through the treetops if the muzzle kept moving when the bird disappeared. Grouse fly roughly yards when flushed, then land on the ground or halfway up a tall conifer. If you see a bird fly into a tree and want to shoot it off a limb, just look for the football-shaped mass in the branches.
But if you want to wait for it to fly down so you can flush it from the ground, mark the area and hunt away from it. Return after about 15 minutes; by then the grouse will have flown down and resumed its business. If you want your flushing dog to stay within shotgun range, try this. First, freeze a grouse carcass after removing the breast meat. Then, the next time you go hunting, call in the dog and have a buddy secretly throw the carcass from behind you and the dog over your heads.
Shoot at it and let the dog retrieve it. Repeat this throughout the day or longer until the dog associates the gunshot with a grouse falling from the sky. Remember: what the dog really wants is to get a bird in its mouth. Allow it to do that every time you take a shot and it will stay closer to the gun. And once your dog flushes a few birds of its own close to the gun—and sees them come down after the bang—it will always hunt for the gun.
In scrubby edge cover alongside evergreens, walk parallel to one another about 30 yards apart, with the hunter closest to the evergreens lagging 20 yards behind. If the lead hunter flushes a bird, it may fly toward the evergreens in front of the second hunter, presenting a crossing shot. In wide coverts, the grouse may hear you coming and scuttle off to the side without ever flushing or being detected. When approaching a likely covert, start from the thickest side or come at it from out of the evergreens if possible.
Grouse are magnificent flyers, but the last thing they want to do is expose themselves in the air. When grouse finally flush, they may fly overhead back to the shelter of the evergreens, allowing you more time to shoot.
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