Grouse Hunting For Beginners
Grouse Hunting for Beginners
Our homeland, Minnesota, is the number one state in the USA for the production of ruffed grouse. It is the most popular small game hunted in the state, and according to the MN Department of Natural Resources, there are over a million acres and 600+ miles of trail designated to grouse hunting. Several must-knows should be noted to anyone looking to get into the (small) game, regardless of location. Here is our guide for grouse hunting for beginners.
There isn't a lot of equipment that is needed to get you started on grouse hunting, but here are the basics to keep in mind: blaze orange apparel and equipment, proper outerwear, a dog (ideally), and most importantly, a shotgun. Often, all that is needed from a legal standpoint to hunt grouse is a valid small game license. Be sure to check your state's guidelines and regulations before setting out for the woods. We always encourage an emphasis on safety regarding hunting. Please ensure there is a clear understanding of the woods, what you are hunting, and the firearm that is being handled. Grouse are often hunted in parties of 2 or more people, so take a moment to slow down before your hunt and make sure everyone is on the same page for safety.
Grouse hunting season is in the fall. During this time, young grouse are moving and seeking home ranges to live their usually short lives. Grouse are heavily pressured animals and have adapted to be very evasive. Have you ever heard a grouse drumming? It's an experience all on its own; male grouse drum by flapping their wings at a rapid rate, most commonly for territorial and mating purposes as a way to attract females in the spring or make a claim of their territory to other males. However, if you're walking down a trail and spook a grouse, you'll likely hear drumming that leads you to believe there is no way a bird just made that. Well, a bird did make that noise, and now you know why and how. Grouse are ground-dwelling birds but fly when necessary. This species of bird can be found all over the country, from Alaska down to Georgia. Grouse live in the woods, it is not likely that you would spot one on your daily commute or at the bird feeders. These birds prefer to dwell in thick covers such as brush piles or thickets.
Newly grown forests often present grouse with opportunities for food and cover because of the growth of seedlings that after a couple of years turn into the thick forest that also brings food. Public logging roads that allow hunting are perfect for hunting grouse as you will often find young to middle-aged woods that these birds desire. Grouse have a varied diet, often eating green leaves from strawberries, clover, and some species of trees. When hunting grouse, considering their vast food choices, it's important to gather an understanding of what the grouse are eating and where those food sources are in the area you are hunting. The food of choice for grouse in Minnesota are buds and twigs of aspen that provide them with sufficient nutrients.
A common theme amongst bird hunting of all kinds is to use a dog trained for tracking, pointing, and retrieving birds. If there is a dog along on the hunt, it can make the whole hunt quite a bit smoother, and it is a great way to bond with your animal while getting it some exercise. It is not an absolute necessity and a successful hunt can be made without a dog, although it is important to note that grouse hunting with dogs is very common and a properly trained dog can increase your chances. If you’re interested in training a dog to hunt grouse, click here for complete instructions on doing so.
If you decide you will hunt without a dog, there are some specific strategies you can practice to bag your grouse. One of the most important aspects of hunting grouse without a dog is to move in random patterns throughout the woods and trail. Hunt with at least one other person if you don't have a dog. Your goal is to flush the grouse, meaning jumping them from their cover and forcing them into the air. This is when that shotgun will come in handy. Often the thick woods grouse live in can make a clean shot in the open difficult, so prepare to shoot through woods and branches. Don't be afraid to take the shot, it's important to capitalize on the opportunity if it presents itself. Keep a close eye on the bird upon shooting so you can track where it was when you shot and where it moved after. A successful airborne kill shot requires practice, the best and most common way of practicing with a shotgun is shooting clay pigeons, so consider getting some time in at a shooting range to prepare for your hunt.
By obtaining this information, if you’ve never grouse hunted, you can now prepare your hunt with at least the basics. It’s time to get out there and gain some experience. Hunting grouse can be an incredibly rewarding experience and we hope you learn a lot along the way. We carry a variety of products to ensure you’re set for the hunt: shop our blaze orange and shotgun case collections.
Happy grouse hunting, friends!