Here are some tips for ruffed grouse hunting that can be used to help find this elusive bird. While hunting ruffed grouse can be difficult, it is not impossible and can even be successfully accomplished without a dog. Here are some tips to get started, but hunters should note what works and what doesn’t for the particular area that they hunt.
Grouse need areas that provide a source of food as well as protection from predators. Grouse will eat a variety of foods including buds, twigs, seeds, bugs, ferns, and acorns. Though aspens are most often associated with ruffed grouse habitat, the trees and plants that attract grouse will vary over its wide range. Young forest and mixed forest edges are a typical place to find grouse. Areas that have both some cover from trees and brush, but which are relatively open near the ground are ideal. Areas near springs and small streams that provide water and damp soil for bugs are also often productive ruffed grouse hunting areas.
Ruffed grouse hunting requires a lot of walking on steep and brush covered terrain in most areas. Carrying anything that is not absolutely needed is a waste of precious energy for a grouse hunter. Hunters should carry the lightest shotgun they own that will get the job done.
Be Ready to Shoot
In most areas getting one grouse to flush is tough enough. But if a hunter is not constantly on the ready, the grouse will quickly be gone before a shot can be taken. One of the most important tips for ruffed grouse hunting is to have the gun ready and be mentally ready at all times. Hunters should take short breaks whenever it is necessary to relax, catch their breaths and rest their arms.
Remember Missed Birds
Whenever a grouse is flushed but missed, hunters should mentally mark the area for a return later in the season. Try to note which way the bird headed and approach from a better angle if possible. Of course, hunters will need to do this while following the bird as a flushed grouse rarely goes far and following it can often lead to another flush.