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Hungarian Grouse


ironranger420

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What do you guys know about Hungarian Grouse. At least that is what we always called them. As a kid,(15 years ago....wait I will always be a kid smile.gif) we use to get probably a half dozen or so each year. We hunted up in Northenr Mn around the crane lake/orr area. These birds had the Red eye's (if I remember correctly)and had dark meat. My Dad use to call them Hungarian grouse, nobody in my family liked to eat them except me, I didn't mind them at all. In the last 10 years or so, I have yet to see or shoot another one.

Two questions:
1) Is "Hungarian Grouse" the correct name of this bird?

2) Why did we use to get a lot of them 15 years ago, and nothing ever since?

Thanks guys!

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I've always heard them called hungarian partridge or just huns. I'm not sure if they are the same thing as gray partidge?
I see them occasionally pheasant hunting and my dog bumped two just recently training in a field near the twin cities. Saw some in Iowa last year. I have never had the chance to fire on one.

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I think you are talking about spruce grouse. Mainly black with white speckling on the body, males have a red patch around the eye. They are fairly common in Northern Minnesota and Canada. Spruce grouse eat pine needles and live thier whole lives in Conifer forests. They do have dark meat, but if prepared correctly can be very tasty. They tend to be a little dumber than ruffed grouse, usually flushing into the first tree. I would guess that you are hunting different types of cover, they will be in the same areas as ruffed grouse sometimes but prefer mature pine forests which is not a favorite of ruffed grouse.

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Well there definitely are hungarian partridge, which are about half the size of roughed grouse, & like Suzuki mentioned, you usually bump them hunting pheasants. They are generally in coveys, anywhere from a few birds to a dozen or more. I haven't seen many for a long time. It seems to me they have lighter meat. I haven't shot one in about 15 years myself & have rarely seen one. It seems like they like more open country, I would guess there's more in western & southwestern MN.

I've never seen a spruce grouse, but know they exist. I suppose depending on which description seems to fit, that will help you determine which bird you're talking about.

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In that area there will be no native hun's. None of the huns I've ever shot had red eyes either. So I think setterguy is right. They are spruce or I think the correct name is Franklin's grouse.

Sadly, there aren't many hun's left. When I was a teenager there were more hun's and we'd road hunt in the winter looking for small clumps of "dirt" arranged in a nice tight circle in the bare farm fields. Those clumps of dirt were hun's. The only trouble was how in the heck to sneak up on them in the middle of a plowed field.

Huns have darker, more gamey meat than a pheasant. Kinda like duck meat if you ask me. Heck of a challenge to shoot them. A true trophy if you got one.

gspman

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Up near the Falls and Crane Lake we have the spruce grouse. I used to get them when I was younger, but they are dumber than your average grouse so now I leave them alone. It's kind of like shooting a pigeon to me. wink.gif

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Hey, pigeons are fun to shoot! They're worthless, but they're fun to shoot. I just felt like somebody had to stand up for the dirty bird...

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thanks guys,

setterguy - what you said about their prefered cover i.e. pines, makes a lot of sense. We would typically see them in these areas. We tended to get them in around 15-20 year old red/white pine re-growths. Now that you guys mentioned it, they were a pretty dumb bird. They didn't run or fly very often. I appreciate your replys, it will be a good deer camp discussion this November. As for as not seeing them anymore, it might be becaause the areas where I use to hunt 15 years ago, and still hunt today, have changed as far as maturity of the forest goes. As most of you know, Northern Mn is bigtime Potlach country. So logging is everywhere and forests are constantly undergoing change. They have probably simply moved to different areas. Thanks again, good luck this weekend everybody.

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"Huns" are common in NW MN and have provided hunters with great hunting opportunities for many years. I have hunted them for many years. They are a beautiful bird but have really nothing distinctive about them. They range from grey to brown, depending on the area they are taken from. I think they are delicious and are a darker meat (similar to sharpies). They are about 1/2 the size (maybe a little bigger) than a ruffed grouse. They prefer grass areas similar to pheasants and you will rarely find them in heavily wooded areas (I have never seen on in a woods). I have found a few in lightly wooded areas such as CRP fields with trees. They are easily hunted once you find them but they have a reputation of halding tight on first flush so it is possible to walk just a couple of feet from them or right by them. Once you have flushed them, they rarely fly more than a couple hundred yards and you can re-flush them. They are typically on coveys of around 10. I have seen them in groups well over 50 in the past. They are about bottomed out right now but appear on the upward swing. If you choose to hunt them, please allow some to live so that they can continue to re-establish themselves year after year. They are easily hunted out. I saw several this past weekend and did not harvest any because the population is low at this time. They are a fantastic game bird that I have a lot of respect for. Back in the 80's it was common to see over 100 in one day of hunting. I am waiting for the day to return! Good luck all!

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A question kinda on this topic. does anyone have an idea why there arent more partridge around south central minnesota? i pheasent hunt around brown county and last year i only saw 2 coveys in over 20 trips. my dad told me he once heard that the population suffers because many of them are inbred because of the coveys they live in. any thoughts on that reason or what the real reason is? fun things to shoot at, wish there was more around that you could acctually hunt them, not get them only by accident.

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JLM,
Wow! I want to hunt the hun's your talking about! Sounds much easier than the one's I used to chase as a kid!

Riverrat56,
The problem is probably habitat. Hun's like small grain fields (wheat, oats, etc...) and shorter grass fields. They like to be out in the open a bit. Since most of the southern half of MN is in row crops (beans, corn) the birds have less preferred habitat. If you read the articles about hun hunting in the Dakota's or Montana & Wyoming the birds are usually found in the short stuff and in stubble fields.

Pigeons are fun to shoot at too. They are sometimes lovingly called "sky rats".

[This message has been edited by gspman (edited 09-29-2004).]

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thanks Gspman it would be nice if we could get some more around here, maybe pheasents forever will work on getting cover for them in the future.

pigeon shooting is a great way to waste an afternoon and makes farmers happy

RR56

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I suspect the same, its a habitat issue. There are pockets of huns all over the state but they are unable to expand. NW MN has some decent hunting. N and S Dakota have great hunting as well as other western states. I think the good old days will return soon, they appear on the upswing!

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We've got lots of "Spruce Hens" in the central part of Northern Minnesota. In fact, if we hunt by a section of big pines, it's usually 50/50 spruce to ruffed. They definately are more stupid in my opinion. I think that's because a lot of hunter pass them up when they see them sitting on the ground, at least where I'm at anyway. If I shoot one in the air, I'll take it home, but I really don't care to eat them. This may sound stupid, but I'm always a little disappointed when I go to collect my bird, and walk up to see a pair of red eyes looking up at me.

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I totally missed the Crane Lake reference. I agree you must be referring to Spruce Grouse. Shoot a nice male for mounting but otherwise they are terrible table fare. Some like them. Most do not. The first (and last) one I shot suprised the heck out of me when I went to clean it. The breast meat was dark red like a woodcock. Cool birds though. Stupid but cool.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Spruce grouse are very pretty, the males anyway. "Fools hen are pretty common up around crane, they start to show up just North of Bemidji.

Gray partridge, or Hungarians are probably my second favorite game bird, quick little buggers, and gorgeous to boot!

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