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Best method for grouse hunting?


Fish- N- Hunt

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I am new to grouse hunting, but want to give it a try because they are good eating. I am planning a trip on the weekend of October 23rd up by Swatara. I don't have a dog or an ATV, but can this hunt still be successful? Should I just drive around until I see one and then get out and try to pursue it or just walk trails and logging roads? What type of habitat should I look for, morning/evening etc. Thanks for any input.

thanks

Fish- N- Hunt

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I'll throw in my $.02. If you are dogless you should try to hunt the best cover you can find. Hunt aspen stands where the trees are no bigger around than the business end of a baseball bat. If there is greenery on the ground in the aspen stand that's even better. Hunt every blow down and swampy area down you come across. When walking always make a mental note to find the next open spot in front of you and walk to it if possible. Then stop. If a bird flushes you'll be able to swing your gun without hitting branches & stuff. Also keep your ears open. Some (not all) grouse will make a weird "blooping" sound when they are alarmed. If you hear this noise try to walk to it and be ready to shoot as the grouse will almost certainly flush. Good luck.
gspman

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I'm glad to hear you don't have an ATV. Personally I hate seeing people grouse hunt on them. So many people abuse that privilege I just automatically get sickened when I see one hunting. You don't need a dog for grouse either. Like the above post said hunt good cover, walk slow and stop often. Look and listen. Very often you will hear them walking or clucking. If you hear them clucking they are nearly under your feet! Once you hear that sound you'll never forget it.

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That time of year you may not be dealing with many leaves on the trees so look for lowland swampy areas and then hunt the edges. The birds need cover and when the canopy from the trees disapears they will tend to get into the real thick stuff. As people here have said, look for young aspen growth that meets conifers. Without a dog you will need to be on gaurd, walking slowly and watching your surroundings. Once you do flush a bird look around and figure out why that bird was there, then look for the same type of cover in other areas. Good luck.

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I like what setter guy says. Look around when you find them and then duplicate it.

I hunted grouse all through college with no dog and no clue where to go. We mainly walked logging trails around Duluth. We encountered many birds. On warm days, try lower areas where the air might be a little cooler. It doesn't take much of temperature difference to attract the birds.

The hardest part for me at least, is finding the downed bird. With no dog, you really have to be sure to mark where you think it landed.

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I agree with the ATV comments. I think most grouse hunters consider them to be an unethical way to harvest a grouse. Besides, they just aren't effective either.

I've hunted with a dog and without and I have been successful with both. I do think that your chance of getting a downed grouse is increased dramatically with a dog. Grouse will really dig in when they are injured or winged and just sit. I don't know how many times I've shot a bird in the air and saw it drop straight down and couldn't find it. They will often run under a downed tree stump or under the thickest brush you can imagine and just sit tight. Without a dog you'll never get those birds. However if you make good killing shots you won't flush less birds and your success rate will be just as good without a dog.

Also the birds will fly into a tree many times when flushed by a dog for an easy shot. I'm not sure why, but they don't fly into trees when flushed humans for some reason. Has anyone else noticed this?

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Agree with the the prior posts.. will throw this in also, watch where the birds flys to..it is possible to walk up the same bird, especially early in the season with young birds, normally the way I find alot of my downed birds is listen for their wings drumming on the ground, they make a heck of a racket once they hit the ground, head towards the sound and you should be able to get a bead on where they are..haven't lost one yet and never hunted grouse with a doggy.

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I hunt with my yellow lab and that has happened many times. I think it is a natural reaction of the birds to simply get of the ground for safety reasons when they see a dog (fox).

It is not the most sporting of shots but it is a clean head shot which will not damage the meat!!! I also allows young hunters to bag their first grouse that would not normally happen with the explosive flush these birds can deliver.

The bonus with the dog is jumping more birds and retrieving downed birds. The draw back is a dog that hunts on it’s own and will not hunt close, you might as well leave them at home and hunt grouse by yourself. My lab hunts close to me in any cover. The heavier the cover the closer he will hunt. He is always checking to see if I am in sight. If I am not, he will come looking for me. I don’t know why, but it is something him and I have developed over the years. I hate blowing whistles and hate yelling when I hunt. I also hate listening to other hunters blowing whistles and yelling for their dog all day long. Developing a hunter/hunting dog relationship is not just during the hunting season. It can be fishing, walking, playing, anytime spent with your hunting dog is time well spent. Their time goes by to fast!

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Thick cover is definitely the answer. I remember flushing a lot of grouse from heavy brush behind old buildings on abandoned farm sites. One time when I was in high school I was squirrel hunting, with the .22 I think, & flushed a grouse that spooked so bad he forgot to look out for the old garage that was there. He flew headlong into the gable end 4-6' from the peak, bonk, he dropped like a stone. I figured for sure he broke his neck, but by the time I got up there he recovered & flew off. I about died laughing. I don't remember now, one of our old dogs may have been what flushed him. We had a shepherd that was a great squirrel & rabbit dog. He just figured out what to do on his own, didn't train him a bit.

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If you're without a dog my best advice is walk slowly, walk slower, and stop often. Grouse like many other birds and animals love to freeze and let danger or the unknown pass them by. Grouse, however, are rather skittish at times. They get nervous and will either start to move or simply flush. Back in my college days, with no dog, I swear the majority of the birds I shot at (notice I say "shot at"), flushed when I was standing still in good cover. Oh yeah, and good cover is a must.

Good luck this fall, guys.
HB

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I agree whole heartedly on the ATV comment. What happened to walking and hunting? A dog and a gun and some boots is about all you really need.

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Sorry guys, someone has to stick up for the ATV guys. There is nothing unethical about hunting with an ATV. Most everybody's goal is to harvest, within the law, the most birds that they can in a given year. ATV's only let you cover more ground in a given day. Nothing else. You cannot fire a firemarm from an ATV nor can you leave the ATV running while shooting. The law states that you must turn the machine off, and be at least 50ft. (i may be slightly off on the distance) away from the machine. I can't speak for everybody, but I follow these rules closely. A grouse is not worth losing my gun and ATV over. I do take my dog and walk when I am alone, but sometimes it's just nice to putt along some nice trails and enjoy the scenary. If I see a bird and get a chance to shoot one, that's a bonus for me. I just love being in the woods to enjoy nature. I have noticed that the people who complain about ATV's are usually people that don't have ATV's. I complain about the 40' speedboats on the St. Croix doing 60mph, but I'll be honest, I'd love to have one, and if I did, I probably wouldn't complain anymore. All I am saying guys, is that there really isn't anything wrong or unethical about hunting on an ATV. ATV's are simply a tool. You guys use dogs. A dog is a tool that allows you to get more birds, easier. Anyway, good luck to everybody this coming weekend. Be safe and share the woods with your neighbors. We all have the same goals.

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Your were close. Its 60 feet. I'm glad to hear you are following the law. If everyone that used an ATV to grouse hunt followed the law I would't be nearly as frustrated with them. I'm not happy about wheelers prowling the 2-tracks I like to walk but the law is the law and I don't want to start a heated debate. Ethics and opinions vary wildly on this topic so I'll just accept the law.
Good hunting.

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Nothing wrong with hunting with an ATV, as long as all the laws are followed. In my own personal experience that tends to not be the case. More often than not when I see someone hunting from an ATV they do leave thier engine running and sure arne't 60 feet from the ATV. If you do follow all game laws I commend you and have no problem with the way you choose to enjoy our outdoors. I have actually seen a couple guys that didn't even bother to get off the machine before taking a shot. The CO was called, but I doubt they were ever found.

By the way, I do have an ATV.

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Thanks a lot for all the posts. I am new to grouse hunting, but I think it would be alot of fun. When you all were talking about ATV's being ethical or unethical brought me to another question. I don't think it is illegal to shoot a grouse on the ground or in a tree, but if I would shoot one on the ground or in a tree would a lot of people consider this unsportsman-like? Because I know that people who shoot ducks on the water, are a lot of the time considered unsportsman-like.

Thanks

Fish- N- Hunt

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uh-oh... the ol' Arkansas a pat'ridge or ground swat grouse ethics debate... This could open up a can of worms. Hunting with my dog and all, I am out there more for watching the dog work than anything else, which would lead one to beleive yeah, it ain't quite right. But... if there are no dog's out hunting, I can honestly say I've done it. I am not saying it's very sporting or I brag I got my limit etc, however sometimes I like to eat.

[This message has been edited by Harmonica Bear (edited 09-15-2004).]

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The old wing vs standing shot debate. Better off left alone. That one is like politics and religion. A very personal matter best not shared. But if some of you guys are itching for fight go for it. I'll grab some popcorn and watch from the bleachers.
Maybe you could include trout fishing with flys vs worms? haha
I will add for the new person that started this post that personal conduct is just that. As long as you are within the law you are the only one that it should matter to. Obviously you would take into consideration those who are with you but otherwise it's your choice. Don't get discouraged by others ethics or personal views. Obey the law, stay safe and have fun above all.


[This message has been edited by Suzuki (edited 09-15-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Suzuki (edited 09-15-2004).]

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I've found that when they land in a tree it can be hard to get them down without shooting them. If someone has found a better method to get them out of the tree and still get a good shot off more power to you! It is just food to me:-)

------------------
First Choice Guide Service
The Cass Lake Chain
FirstChoiceGuide.com
Phone: (612)730-9620

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IronRanger- You claim to follow the rules of hunting with an ATV very closely but don't know what they are? Interesting. That's why the majority of non-ATV hunters have a problem with using them. More often than not, laws are not followed.

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I'm with Brian Jones, & when I'm hunting grouse my object isn't to try to fit into a storybook, it's to have fun walking in the woods & hopefully make a clean killing shot on bird. What's cleaner than shooting a bird sitting still?

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It's nice to see some of you guys speaking up for getting a sittin' bird. For whatever reason, the grouse where we hunt either run like a roadrunner or fly to the nearest tree branch and sit. I know my friends give me **** sometimes for not shooting every one of those birds "on the wing," but what's a guy to do...throw sticks at it until it flies? I swear some of them are no smarter than city pigeons.

As for the ATV's. I like to use one now and then, but if I REALLY want birds for the table then I walk. I see many more birds walking than I do on the 4-wheeler. Both are enjoyable if you follow the laws.

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Frogger-- You say I don't know the rules????? Why, because I was off 10' on my distance from the machine. Sorry man, I will make sure to pace my steps out next time. The point is, when i see a bird, i turn my machine off, get my gun unloaded, walk towards where I first saw the bird, and then walk into the woods and try to get a shot at it. I really don't think a Game Warden is going to contend with 10'.

It's not going to help to work against ATV user's. Trying working with ATV'ers. We have the same goals as you. And ATV's aren't going to go away. More and more are being sold each year. The benefits are being discovered by more and more people. Just a suggestion Frogger. By the way, make sure to come to a complete stop at your next stop sign, make sure to turn your blinker on 100' from your turn, make sure to stay 1 car length per every 10mph behind the car ahead of you.

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jweitgen,


Did you go to UMD and when? Your post is almost exactly what I was going to write. We used to go out and walk the trails in the Superior National Forest almost every afternoon. It was a great time and I even got two of my roomates into hunting because of it. The hardest part was finding the downed birds. You could be standing on top of them and not even know it.

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Hey Suzuki, You know anything about Suzuki outboards? I have some questions about them.

Can I send you an email with some questions?
Need you email address if you don't mind.

Sorry guys, I might be getting a boat soon and need some info.

Like it's been stated earlier in the post, stay with in the law. Have fun out in the woods and be safe. I say to each his/her own.

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Bushwacker:

I went to UMD from 1996 until 2001 and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. We always hunted near Twig off of some road called something trail. I haven't been up there for awhile, now I hunt grouse near Mora but I don't get up there too often living in Mankato.

I sure miss a walk through the woods to clear up a good hangover on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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jweitgen,Bushwacker
I am a 3rd year student up at UMD and just started to grouse hunt last year. I am still looking for spots more so really of where not to go....

Shoot me an email would like to ask you a few questions if you wouldnt mind.

-John-
damh0001 at d.umn.edu

[This message has been edited by deepdiver (edited 09-24-2004).]

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Went to a end of the road trail last weekend. There was a truck parked by it with an empty dog carrier. My buddy and I weren't going to walk down it, but then changed our minds, not knowing how long the guy before us had started out. We got out of our Dodge, and were loading up. I was standing by the edge of the trail ready to go, and my buddy was walking toward me when a truck pulling three 4 wheelers pulled up. They parked and got out. I thought they might leave, seeing us just start walking down the trail, and another vehichle there, but they didn't. They unloaded there wheelies as we started our walk. This trail is very narrow, (following an old railroad embankment) with no offshoots. We walked about 50 yards, and looked back to see them getting ready to head down the trail. My buddy asked me if we should continue down the trail, after these guys pass us, or just turn back now. We turned around and headed back. At the foot of the trail, one of them asked "How'd you do?" My buddy replied, "We just got here" as we slunk back to our Dodge. They then left down the trail, though one of their party looked a little embarrased as we walked by.
Back in the Dodge, we were a little upset at first, but then laughed it off. There is a lot of woods to hunt in MN, and to get mad, and let your weekend be ruined over somthing so trivial in my opinion is pathetic. However, I own an ATV, and would never consider doing that. Oh well, I hope the dog hunter before us slayed them! Good luck to all this weekend, be courteous, and remember that being "forced" off a trail is still more fun than work!

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Great topic and some great side-bar arguements going on. I got into grouse hunting the same way most on this topic did, because I loved the outdoors and one didn't need a dog or a wheeler to be successful. Just a shotgun and a general enjoyment of nature. Now, I prefer to hunt without a dog. The one fellow had it right, dogs usually hunt too far away, and when shooting through the woods a bird flushed to far out is usually a bird lost. As far as ATV's, I've used them to hunt twice and saw a combined 0 birds. I'd much rather find a peice of public land and walk trails, it's quiet and you can usually walk right up to them. Which leads me to ground pounding. I understand the ethic of letting them get off the ground if it's duck hunting or with dogs around, but with grouse, I consider it fair game. Back to the original post: I find it best to find a plot of public land that was logged 5-10 years earlier and hunt the edges. It's great bird habitat. Good Luck

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