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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-20-2017, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Grouse hunting questions

Please forgive my ignorance, as I read through this forum and realize that there is a wealth of knowledge on here, I figured I would try to get an education... I hunt grouse alone, dogless, and I am a "weekender" with moderate success, (average 3 birds a year on a dozen outings) I never had anyone to teach me how to hunt birds properly. Typically my approach is to cover as many thick areas I can find looking for food sources as I move. I typically cover around 15 miles a day. My question is, what tips can you guys offer up to me as a newbie? How does weather affect grouse? Do they prefer to be on the sunny sides of the mountain, or are they just as comfortable in the shade? Does wind change their routine? Do they even have a routine?? I have read a bunch of articles, both on hunting them and about grouse specifically as a species, but I don't know necessarily if those principals apply specifically to the birds in the area and habitat that I hunt. (Sullivan co) Any tips or advise would be appreciated, I enjoy hunting them, and have not problem "learning as I go" but I was just looking for some help.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 12:33 AM
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Hunting alone for grouse is something I did for years; however, I do not see nor hear grouse drum any more in my area and I truly miss grouse hunting. For years I did not hunt archery only grouse in PA and Ohio to get the Sunday and the late season they had into February with a 3 per day limit then. I hunted all day long every day I got the opportunity or until I got my limit and if it was 2 birds in PA in the morning you can bet I was in OH that afternoon. I took vacation of no less than two weeks to hunt grouse.

A lot of my success occurred on snow days. Look for tracks and walk them to find the birds or where they left wing marks in the snow to fly away. If the snow is in the neighborhood of 7" or more they may be under the snow. Look for tracks that disappear or divots in the snow. Sometimes they come right in and land on/in the soft snow. In bad wether they may stay under there for days. Once you see a couple of the divots you will be able to spot them in the future. Also look for holes they peck from under the snow. Sometimes they will go a few feet horizontally under the snow and their location is not obvious.... just walk the immediate area. I have seen up to five of them under the snow in close proximity. I have had them fly up between my legs hitting their wings on my hunting pants. It can get very exciting. Stay calm...Ha! Ha!

When there is no snow hunt the cover or and other areas you are constantly finding grouse. They are easy to kill, but can be difficult to hit. I did a lot of hand thrown clay birds shooting during the Summers probably 1,000 rounds plus with a couple of buddies. The shooter would have his gun in carry position safety on and the two throwers would walk around at radom and throw the clays at anytime and any angle. It has to be executed safely of course. I know no better way to practice for shooting grouse.

When you are approaching an area where you think there is a good probability of a grouse which has cover which could block your view for a clean shot try to approach the cover from a direction which appears to give you the best view of the grouse potential flight pattern. A grouse is extremely talented at being able to put a single tree between the shooter and his flight pattern....thus no shot.

Also the best method for good shots and controlling the flush of the grouse is accomplished by stopping and making a couple of steps in place and wait for the flush. I shot a lot of grouse using this method and this provided my best percentage of hits. Whereas, when just charging through cover they may just set tight or they can flush at any time and you will not be as ready as using the stepping in place method.

Another good clue is don't be afraid to take the shot just because if seems difficult. Make your best shot when one is available. No one shoots 100 % on flushed grouse in PA.

Also hunting alone got me a few extra grouse by not giving up on that bird. In other words when I flushed a grouse and could not get a shot or missed I always watched the bird and marked the spot where I think he started his decent. I would give him a couple of minutes to set in and then I would go straight to that location and if I did not jump it immediately I would walk that area making circles and expand the circles until I found him. Of course snow makes it easier. If you are not finding him look up sometimse they will land and set in tree to escape.

Above all enjoy the great sport you are pursuing as its may not last for ever as it has dropped so low in my area I have quit hunting the bird that gave the best memories over any years.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 10:50 AM
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To add: I failed the mention when you stop and the grouse is close often they will flush when you make the next step.... be ready.

What gun, choke,load and shot size are you using? As mentioned before they are easy to kill, but can be difficult to hit.

My first experience with grouse was in MI state. The locals called them "Pats." Short for Partridge. I got the first one I shot at and was hooked. The only gun I had to use was a 12 ga. Ithaca Buckbuster short barrel, single shot, open cylinder choke which was perfect for the thick cover we hunted in as most shot were under 20 yards often 15 yards.

When I moved to PA in 1972 I was delighted to learn there was good grouse hunting. I purchased a Browning auto 5, 12 gauge improved cylinder, with a short barrel in the first few years and did very well with grouse loaded with 7 1/2's as the first shot and 6's as the second round. Most of the grouse I have taken were with the first shot.

Like you I did a lot of reading on grouse hunted and was impress with what I read about over and under shotguns, but I could not afford one. Fortunately a buddy was visiting JCPenney Catalog distribution center in Columbus, OH and saw a Browning Citori 12 ga. O/U that was returned and available for $262 which was well under the price for a new Citori at that time. I was on the phone that day with JCPenney and purchased the shot gun on layaway to be paid off in year and ready for pick up. One year later I was in my car to Columbus.

This turn out be the perfect gun for me which was improved and modified barrels. I reloaded my shells and used light loads 7 1/2's in the improved and 6's in the modified barrel. The gun has selective triggers so I could select the appropriate barrel/load while the grouse was on the fly. This gun increased my confidence of success and I took a lot of grouse and made a lot of great memories.

However, you do not have to own an expensive gun to be proficient at taking grouse, but using a gun/load in which one has a lot of confidence is a great asset.

Again enjoy....
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the advise! The normal approach I use when moving thru cover is take 3 or 4 steps then pause for 3 seconds and wait in a ready position. It normally pays off like you said, either they flush due to being nervous or as soon as my first step hits the ground.
For years I was using my grandfathers old lefever 12ga with 30" barrels, but after too many misses, I put that in the safe and purchased a CZ redhead o/u, 20ga with 26" barrels. That gun is quick! My first shot (bottom barrel) is IC and I normally put a
7 1/2 in there, my second shot is Mod and I normally stick a 6 in that for a longer distance or "brush clearing" shot. Any thoughts?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 12:49 PM
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I think you are on the path to success. Send us a picture and/or story from your future hunts. If you find something that works well I haven't mentioned please advise. I am not too old to learn new tricks.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 01:19 PM
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I can't too much that already has been said but keeping a journal and record date, time of day, habitat conditions, weather etc will help you, over time, see a pattern.


I tend to find grouse along logging roads in clearcuts in October. The feed on the greens growing on the road. Clearcuts need to be at least 7-8 years old. Clearcuts seem to peter out after about 15 years.


I also like to open their crop and see what they've been eating. That a huge help in where they are at.


If you can, get a dog. Doesn't have to be the perfect dog, but a close working grouse dog adds so much more to the enjoyment of grouse hunting.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2017, 07:16 PM
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Thank you...open their crop to check for current feeding information.....I skipped over that...good advise. It takes a special dog for grouse and 222 you are right again one must have a close working dog.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 09:33 PM
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My compliments to you 2 guys that offered some good advise. One thing I hate seeing is when someone is asking for advise and they get trampled or some people offer smug comments. It was nice reading some true advise to this person!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for the advise! I really do appreciate it! If you think of anything else, I'm always ready to listen!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-12-2017, 09:14 AM
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Ii see you're from Oley, not far from me near Cabelas. I've heard that they have done some habitat improvement on the Blue Mountain near Cabelas, but I haven't gone up there. May be worth a shot instead of driving up to Sullivan county!

Take an older friend hunting or fishing - they're the reason we do what we do!
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