Tips to Improve Your Grouse Hunt
Hunting was one of the most important skills homesteaders could have back in the day. Before factory and even small local farms were common, hunting was the most important means of putting meat on the table and in the larder. For many of us, it’s still very important. We have seven tips to improve your grouse hunt that you might find helpful.
When most hunters talk about “hunting season” they usually mean deer – whitetail, blacktail or mule (muley). While one deer can put a considerable amount of meat on the table, birds can do their share to fill the dinner plate. Grouse, also called partridge, is a popular upland game bird.
Grouse are tricky. The blend into the brown grass on the sides and middle of gravel roads. They stand in grass taller than they are and are often first spotted when they burst into the air and fly away. Hunting with dogs adds to the success rate but not everyone has a bird dog. There are ways you can improve your grouse hunt.
Suitable shotguns for grouse include 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge. I started with a youth model (more on that in a moment) 20-gauge and was quickly discouraged. My hit to miss ratio was pathetic. I needed to be closer to the birds than I could usually get before they flew into the trees. I now hunt grouse with a 12-gauge. I use 2 3/4″, No. 6 game shot.
A few things to do and remember before you get started: Safety first. You’ll probably have to take a hunter safety course before you can obtain a hunting license. Choose a gun you are comfortable carrying and shooting. Try as many guns as possible.If you are of slight build, try a youth model. They’re made for smaller people. Become a safe, accurate shooter. Practice often in a safe area. Rod & Gun and shooting clubs often make their facilities available for use. Hire an instructor if necessary.
These tips should help you improve your grouse hunt.
- Look for the brown that doesn’t belong. Grouse blend into dead grass and debris along roadsides. What doesn’t look quite right?
- Look in clover. Clover provides protein needed by grouse.
- In the early part of the hunting season, look for a second or third bird when you see the first. Later in the season they split up and you’ll usually see only one at a time.
- Grouse like mixed stands of trees. Evergreen/softwood and hardwood provide cover and food.
- Listen for rustling. Rustling in the dead, dry leaves often means a grouse is moving.
- Listen for “quit quit quit quit quit.” It’s the alarm call of a grouse.
- Most grouse (also called partridge) are shot within 100 feet. Without a dog to find and flush birds for you, you’ll want to watch the sides and center of gravel roads most often.
One more thing to keep in mind. This is easily overlooked. States impose a “bag limit.” You may shoot a certain number of grouse per day. There’s also a “possession limit.” You might be able to shoot four grouse per day every day of the hunting season but be limited to having eight birds, for example.
Good aim and safe shooting!