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Discussion Starter #1
So I am looking to start grouse hunting this year. I hunt pretty much everything but I have never hunted Grouse. Problem is I don't know where to start. I live in South Central PA. I have only ever seen a grouse once where I hunt deer and turkey. Anyone know of any good game lands to try in Franklin, Fulton, or Huntington?

There are 3 of us but no dog. Is it even worth hunting them without a dog?
 

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Grouse are taken with shoe leather and miles walked. Not many people are going to point out areas with grouse after they put in the effort to find it. Get out now and start walking, look for wild grape and green briar and thickets.
 

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Yes. Its well worth it without a dog. As john said, look for thick areas. I've walked many miles without a dog for each grouse killed.

Also, listen for their peeping....I'm serious. Often they make a little noise before they flush giving you a bit of time to get ready.

Good luck
 

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I know guys that prefer to hunt grouse without dogs and are very successful doing it. You'll need to educate yourself about the bird and his habits. Buy the book, Ruffed Grouse, edited by Sally Atwater and Judith Schnell. It's part of Stackpole Books' 'Wildlife Series'. Likely available on Amazon. It's the absolute best book on the birds habits, cover, food, etc. that I've ever seen.
After digesting all that info get out in likely cover and wear out a pair of boots. That's how you'll learn about grouse, that's how everyone learns.
 

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I'm probably going to get lambasted for this comment but if birds on the ground is all you care about you can probably do just about as well without a dog as with one, especially given that many of the dogs we hunters take into the woods each fall aren't really top notch grouse dogs. That being said, they're our dogs and we love them and we love following them through the thickets. In the end that's what really matters, because success is measured in many different ways. As others have said there are good books out there that will educate you on grouse, their habits and habitat, but boot leather kills them and if you're not fairly well bloodied by quitting time, you're not hunting good grouse cover! Good luck and if you find any particularly productive covers, drop me a PM. Your secret will be safe with me!!
 

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The hardest part of hunting grouse to me without a dog is I swear they flush EVERY TIME IM BENT OVER trying to go under hemlock branchs/ autumn olive/ grape vines
 

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John S said:
Grouse are taken with shoe leather and miles walked.
Truer words have never been spoken.

No dog needed. In my humble opinion, I think I can shoot more Grouse without a dog. Especially if there is a little snow on the ground. Learn the preferred habitat, and walk slowly through and try to be ready for a good gun mount and shot if one flushes.

All other advice given on this thread is very good.
 

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If you can kill more without a dog, you don't have a good dog.

If you've ever hunted grouse behind a half way decent dog, you wouldn't grouse hunt again without a dog.

With a good pointing dog more grouse will flush in front of you with your gun ready.
 

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HighCountry66 said:
If you can kill more without a dog, you don't have a good dog.

If you've ever hunted grouse behind a half way decent dog, you wouldn't grouse hunt again without a dog.

With a good pointing dog more grouse will flush in front of you with your gun ready.
X2...A good dog will definitely up the odds in your favor but even with your gun ready and them flushing right in front of you they still fly away untouched sometimes...
 

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Johnmas,
It is true that you can hunt Grouse without a dog, however for me the dog work is what Grouse hunting is really all about, the dog is the hunter and watching him or her float thru the woods and do their job, is the most interesting exciting hunt on earth. Britman and Highcountry66 are correct, if you can't find more Grouse with your dog than hunting without one, the dog you have is not a good Grouse dog, and there are many dogs that can't handle Grouse properly.
Here in Pa our mature Grouse are very spooky, 90% of all Grouse taken by Grouse hunters are 1st year birds, with a few 2nd year birds mixed in. A mature Grouse who has evaded
predators for 4 or 5 seasons is a prize bird and usually a very good Grouse dog is needed, to set him up for the masters gunning. These kind of mature Grouse usually reset their safety zone many times and without an experienced Grouse dog, most times a hunter has little chance at these birds. Even an average dog is usually not good enought to handle some of these spooky old birds. IMO Grouse hunting with a great Grouse dog is the finest hunting on earth. Actually getting to see a great Grouse dog walk a mature Grouse for 1/2 a mile or more thru the thick forest and setting the bird up for her masters gunning, is a sight most hunters seldome get to see, ask Eric Miller about Penny some time, and listen close as he tells about his experience with her Grouse hunting talent.
Men like Burt Spiller and Corey Ford wrote about Grouse hunting all the time, and were good Grouse huntrs themselves, however Burt willingly admitted he never owned a great Grouse dog, Corey actually owned a few. It is true that if you get to own a great Grouse dog, God has really blessed you. IMO Grouse hunting is really not Grouse hunting without a Companion Grouse Dog. JohnMas some day I hope you are blessed with such a dog to Grouse hunt with.
Pine Creek/Dave

Owning a great Grouse Dog is a gift from Heaven. Pine Creek Penny our incredible female Gordon Grouse Dog


Penny pointing a Grouse under the pines at the edge of the forest.
 

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Pine-Creek Dave,
I never had a bird dog {I'm 60 now}, but I had an incredible rabbit dog when I was a teenager. She taught me a lot about hunting. I only shot a rabbit when it was brought around by the dog. Kinda like never shooting a grouse on the ground or in a tree. Dogs are the best hunting companions!
Ben
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nice info guys! Pine creek that is a fine looking dog!

Anyone hear of the state game lands managed for grouse near the Raystown area? I read about it last year. Is it any good? I am thinking it probably gets hammered by hunters.
 

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johnmas,
Most all the southern tier game lands are hammered hard now, especially those managed for Grouse and woodcock.
Try over behind the Prison on the cut thru in Somerset County, still some pretty good Grouse hunting on that SGL.

Freepistol,
As a very young boy I had a Beagle puppy, he hunted everything for me, I will never forget him, Happy was my buddy.
Pine Creek/Dave
 

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I didnt say it was more fun to hunt without a dog, I said I can kill more Grouse without a dog. Even a "good" dog.

My current dog is pretty good, he should be with about 150 hours a year hunting Grouse. He is 5 this year. I really enjoy hunting with him and my friends dogs both pointing and flushing. I wouldnt want to be without them, if only for amusement.

But kill Ruffed Grouse easier with them, I dont think so. Just my humble opinion.
 

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Interesting topic. Does hunting with a dog produce more kills? I would like to say yes but I'm not sure that would be true. I guess I never thought on it before because it doesn't matter to me. My dog died a few years ago and I decided I would hunt without a dog because a dog requires a lot of care, expense etc. It was the most unfulfilling hunting season I had ever gone through. The next year saw a new pup in the hunting party. Never again will I hunt without a dog. I will also say that my last Brittany was so good at retrieving that she increased the number of birds we took home.
 

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brittanyman said:
HighCountry66 said:
If you can kill more without a dog, you don't have a good dog.

If you've ever hunted grouse behind a half way decent dog, you wouldn't grouse hunt again without a dog.

With a good pointing dog more grouse will flush in front of you with your gun ready.
X2...A good dog will definitely up the odds in your favor but even with your gun ready and them flushing right in front of you they still fly away untouched sometimes...
I'll come to Country Nate's defense on this one. Nate has a pointing dog that does very well on grouse but he can kill grouse with or without a dog. He had a string of over 20 hunting trips in a row in PA where he killed a grouse. I would guess that there aren't 10 people that killed more grouse in PA last year than Nate did. Nate is just a terrific grouse hunter. He knows what covers hold birds, and more specifically where to hunt in those covers to get good shooting.
 

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Gentlemen,
It's not how many Grouse you take, it's how you take the Grouse. IMO Grouse hunting is a gentlemans sport done with a beautiful companion dog. If I had to give up my companion I would probably never shoot another Grouse.
I am in the woods for the beautiful dog work, my companion provides. We work as a team as we hunt, seldom if ever do I shoot a wild flush, I shoot pointed Grouse, that have been set up for me by my companion. Just shooting birds means nothing to me, I am not into that kind of hunting.
The dance between the Grouse and my gun dog is why I am really in the Grouse woods, once you see a gun dog walk a Grouse for over a 1/2 mile thru the thick forest, and set the bird for his masters gunning, you will never forget it. A human maybe a great hunter at times, but he will never instinctively match my Grouse dogs talent.
Pine Creek/Dave
 

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Pine-Creek said:
once you see a gun dog walk a Grouse for over a 1/2 mile thru the thick forest
Was that 1/2 mile measured by stringing 2,640 foot long Porcupine quills end to end?
 

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Pine-Creek said:
once you see a gun dog walk a Grouse for over a 1/2 mile thru the thick forest, and set the bird for his masters gunning, you will never forget it.
I hope you didn't shoot it... don't tell me I don't want to know. After winning the first 1/4 mile of that 'race' the bird should've earned itself a pardon.
 
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