Each and every hunter has his or her own personal set of rules when it comes to tracking and shooting grouse, along with other types of game. Many prefer to just keep walking until they eventually find the birds they’re looking for. This strategy can work, but it’s pretty unreliable, as it’s almost entirely luck based. Smart hunters know exactly when and where to look for the birds, so they don’t have to walk around in random directions. Follow these tips and you’ll be bringing home more grouse than you know what to do with.
Open season for grouse varies from location to location. Generally, this hunting season begins around mid September and extends through the winter. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll find the same amount of success during that entire stretch of time. Many hunters agree that the best time to hunt these birds is early in the season, while they’re still in their family broods. Biologists also recommend that you stop hunting the birds around December, as killing grouse during this time has proven to have a negative affect on the species’ overall survival numbers. If you can curb your hunting habits just a month early, you’ll find that more birds will appear the following year.
Where to Look During the Day
Grouse, much like us, have a typical daily schedule that the flock follows. Learning their habits can help you figure out the best places to look throughout the day. Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown:
The early bird gets the worm, and the early hunter gets the grouse. The birds fly down from their roost around this time, so be sure to check the seams between the larger trees, as well as open areas with thick brush. If you hunt with a dog, then you’ll find that the birds will lay down a lot of scent trails at sunrise.
Mid Morning and Late Afternoon
These are the primary feeding times for the grouse. If you know what the local birds are eating, then you’ll have much more success figuring out where to look. After you shoot your first bird, check out what’s in its beak and plan accordingly. Grouse love fruits, such as snowberries, crab apples and cranberries. They’re also been known to feed on acorns around oak trees, as well as insects
This is another transitional period for the flocks, so you can check the same types of areas that you did before sunrise. You can even take it one step further and hunt them where they roost. Check underneath trees and shrubs during the earlier parts of the season. Once the cold weather hits and the snow falls, redirect your search to check underneath coniferous trees.