Most people realize that “partridge” is a misnomer for the ruffed grouse, but I, for one, call it a partridge anyway. Actually, ol’ ruff isn’t a partridge at all but is related to the spruce grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, and prarie chicken. The reason our ruffed grouse are called partridge goes back to early settlers that thought the grouse looked like the European partridge. Since then the name has stuck.
No other game bird represents American upland bird shooting like the ruffed grouse. Early colonists quickly recognized the superior eating quality of grouse. I’ll bet there was probably more grouse than turkey eaten at the first Thanksgiving.
Early sportsmen found the prized birds to a challenging target when taken on the wing. Though the grouse only flies about half as fast as a duck or goose, they zig-zag around trees and brush so fast they appear to be dodging your shots.
So now that season is almost open, what can one do to put more grouse in the bag? That may be the toughest question posed by a hunter because there are few pat answers. Some of the most successful grouse hunters don’t hunt with dogs, others wouldn’t dream of going without one. Some experts claim you need to take careful aim and lead the bird, some rely on the snapshooting technique to bag a few.
The only thing I know for sure that will put more grouse in the game pouch is to see more birds. That may sound overly simple, but too many hunters randomly stroll through woods that are terrible grouse cover.
Concentrate your efforts by hunting in spots that offer food and cover for grouse. In our part of the country that usually means hunting in mature stands of aspen. But other spots that harbor grouse are thickly grown over spots with apple trees or wild grapes near by. Fruits like these are usually found in the vicinity of abandoned farms or homesteads. These spots are even better if there is a few clearings and conifer groves mixed in.
Every time you come across a good spot, mark it in a plat book or on a county or topographical map. When you’ve laid out a string of them, you’ve developed a “grouse circuit” so you can quickly move from one hot spot to the next. Just make sure you have permission before venturing across private property.
Good grouse spots usually remain good as long as you don’t get greedy and shoot too many birds. Once you’ve taken a bird or two from a small spot, look for new areas to add to your circuit. In the long run you’ll have better hunting for partridge…. or grouse. Whatever you want to call them.
Posted by Jeff Howard on August 25, 2010
Comments: 0 Comments