Fall Grouse Hunting…It’s Almost Here!

“Bobber” Anne Orth tackles the trails and trials of fall grouse hunting.

By the time grouse season opens, we’ll be good and ready to get out there and walk those woods. After this summer of heat, the cooler temperatures of fall will definitely be refreshing. And like fishing, it’s something a person can do to avoid the crowds!

Getting shots at grouse can be tough at times, especially if they get the jump on you and head for the cover of the trees. That’s if you are even lucky enough to find them.

Where to go? There’s always state land, available to everyone. If you know someone who owns some woods, ask permission for access, and better yet, see if they’d like to go with you. You can always offer them a couple of birds if you get some.

Even more fun is a retrieving dog, both to help find the birds you do put down and help flush them out. They love it, too, as is usually obvious by their excitement.

The weather doesn’t have to be perfect to get out there. A sunny, comfortable day is always nicer, but even a misty day is okay to give it a try. You might have to work a bit harder to find the birds, because they may sit tight or head into deeper cover. Walking a zigzag pattern in the woods to cover more ground is the thing to do.

Earlier in the season, the foliage will be thicker; getting clean shots is tougher. Grouse can hide easier and they will! So, once the leaves are off the trees, it becomes easier to see them, anyway.

On a warm day, you might be lucky enough to find grouse on or close to trails, snacking on gravel and clover or other greens. They’ll take off, so be at the ready!

A couple of other tips that may help: If the grouse are elusive the day you are trying for them, drive slowly down public back roads and isolated trails, watching for them. It might seem lazy or not very sporting, but it can help find them. Try this the last hour of daylight into a bit after sundown when the day is sunny. If the day you pick is going to be quite warm, go real early. On a cloudy day, go for a couple hours after sunrise and then a couple hours before sundown. The object is, the birds are out feeding at those times of day on the easy pickings roads have to offer.

Other places to find them on a warm day may be along sandy trails or treed hilltops with loose dirt or sand for them to dust in. It’s kind of like a bird’s way of bathing!

If you have a chance, give it a whirl! It’s nice to get out for a walk in nature.

 

Want more valuable hunting insights? Look to the fall issues of MidWest Outdoors, available the first full week of each month at the newsstand or by subscribing on our website.