Grouse repatriot

  • Atavar
    Participant
    Posts: 47
    #2240227

    Howdy all! I am new to this forum but soaking up a lot of wisdom.
    I recently got a 9 year Brittany rescue and he has rekindled my upland game interest after 14 years of not touching a shotgun. I have dusted off my vintage Coast to Coast 12ga and am raring to go.
    We went out yesterday here in central Minnesota to play in a local Grouse management area. It was glorious to get out and the dog did exactly what he is supposed to (I think). He ranged about 20 yards ahead sweeping from 10:00 to 2:00, and waited on point for me to catch up.
    Unfortunately he was just pointing at scents, because we didn’t see a live bird all day. Not even a sparrow or a crow. It was surreal. We were hunting 2nd growth Aspen and I expected to find something.
    Our “hunt” started at sunup and carried to afternoon. We were both tired and happy when we got home.
    I look forward to hearing from y’all and soaking up your wisdom.

    Attachments:
    1. IMG_0979-scaled.jpeg

    deertracker
    Participant
    Posts: 8865
    #2240229

    Bird or not, sounds like a great day. Congrats and welcome.
    DT

    gimruis
    Participant
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts: 13901
    #2240230

    We were hunting 2nd growth Aspen and I expected to find something.

    Aspen usually produces birds. That’s odd there weren’t any around.

    suzuki
    Participant
    Woodbury, Mn
    Posts: 17854
    #2240231

    Welcome. Good looking cover. Sorry you didn’t see any. You might have to go another hour north. Neat you are giving a 9 year old bird dog another chance. That’s really cool.

    Atavar
    Participant
    Posts: 47
    #2240235

    Thanks. He is an older hunter with a little arthritis but that applies to me too. We are pretty evenly matched.
    We were in the 2nd south most RGWMA in the state (Two Inlets) and we plan on going more North next time. I suspect this one has been hunted out.
    Of course being old and out of shape we stuck to the main trails. We might have to beat deeper in to the brush.

    FinnyDinDin
    Participant
    Posts: 571
    #2240249

    RGWMA areas get tons of pressure. They are great habitat but they get burned out pretty early in the season in my experience. Get out off the wma’s and off the walking trails and you will have success. It is not tough to beat some brush this time of year with no leaves or undergrowth. Use On-X app or better yet the scout n hunt grouse app and you will have endless land to hunt that is most likely untouched.

    Youbetcha
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 2197
    #2240265

    If you can run north. the grouse numbers in superior national forest are insane this year.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 17452
    #2240306

    Bird or not, sounds like a great day. Congrats and welcome.
    DT

    I agree! For me its more about watching the dog work than getting anything. It is frustrating however when you dont at least see something, but whether I shoot one or not I could care less. Heres to hopefully several more years of in the field with the new to you hound OP!

    suzuki
    Participant
    Woodbury, Mn
    Posts: 17854
    #2240322

    National and State forests are where its at. Park on roads and not parking lots. Good luck.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9523
    #2240354

    Welcome! Since you are not too far away, I’d run over to the Paul Bunyan State Forest. Lots of birds around, and way more land than pressure imo. Just need to get on the logging trails, as there is a lot of ATV traffic on the roads.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 17452
    #2240428

    I just talked to a guy at lunch that he and his group of 4 had 30 shots at grouse the other day by Motley all on public land. He said the ones on trails are super jumpy so they bushwacked and it was tough shooting.

    Atavar
    Participant
    Posts: 47
    #2240665

    Full disclosure, I have hunted quail (most fun ever) partridge and dove in the Arizona desert but I am a total neophyte at ruffed grouse.

    Tomorrow I plan on walking Port Hope and Buena Vista RGMAs, just because they are close and north of town. Paul Bunyan RGMA will be next.

    I think I have accepted that getting off the trails and pushing the brush is a necessity. I understand that new growth Aspen is a target area.

    Is there a time of day that the grouse move to or from water? Or seed?

    Any advice you have for finding birds would be treasured.

    robby
    Participant
    Quad Cities
    Posts: 2673
    #2240789

    Sounds like the dog has great instincts. Get the dog on birds and kill a few, the dog will figure it out from there. May need a bit of training as far as the retrieve, but the dog may suprise you. Neat post, thanks for sharing.

    Brittman
    Participant
    Posts: 1481
    #2240879

    The ruffed grouse were there. They ran off!

    Seasoned (heavily hunted) grouse will:
    1) run !!!!
    2) walk further away from an opening or trail
    2) most often flush away from any opening or trail

    Grouse feed heavily an hour before dark. Catskins is the primary food. Acorns if they are available too.

    Every day is different. Next time you make that walk you may walk out with a bird or two in the vest.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 2620
    #2241157

    atavar, thanks for sharing. what a great story for both you and this dog. kudos to you for rescuing this dog and giving it a chance to utilize its instincts.

    I would echo what others have said. Try to avoid ruffed grouse management areas as they get tons and tons of repeated pressure. The birds get educated and learn to avoid the pressured areas.

    The superior national forest is an incredible place to grouse hunt with endless opportunities (4 million acres). Depending your location, state and national forests would be my preference over RGMAs. Download OnX and turn on the young aspen filter – that will show you some areas to focus in on. Focus on transition areas as well as low (i.e. wet) spots. OnX is really good at showing random trails that I wouldnt know were there otherwise.

    My favorite trails are ones that you can tell a four wheeler has been down before, but hasn’t been down in a while and is somewhat overgrown. I avoid trails that are obviously heavily traveled. Once you get up to the superior national forest, there are many small portage trails going to lakes that are way back in the bush – those trails are often really good too.

    If you are interested in hitting up the superior national forest, shoot me a PM and I can send a spot or 2 for you to try out.

    Youbetcha
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 2197
    #2241163

    My favorite trails are ones that you can tell a four wheeler has been down before, but hasn’t been down in a while and is somewhat overgrown.

    I still would say trails that see a lot of atvs are well worth it if you are walking. One of my best trails in that area is one that gets hammered with guys that run atvs but never walk. It seems like the birds understand atv noise and it makes them less sensitive to foot traffic.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 2620
    #2241177

    Without a doubt! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a wheeler or two leap frog me on the trail and then I shoot a bird a minute or two later. However, I’d say the later you get in the year, the less that strategy works. I’ve found that as the cover thins as foliage falls, the birds move to thicker coverage areas where they can find food. There’s also less ATV traffic this time of year, so that conditioning you speak of is less frequent.

    When I’m looking for new grouse areas, I focus on two things 1) cover and 2) food. It’s a bonus if there’s water or a low boggy spot nearby. Even more of a bonus if its in a low traffic area.

    Also, not all aspen is created equally. “Broomstick” aspen is a common term for what to look for when grouse hunting. Look for aspen no thicker than the handle of a broomstick – the stuff that is so thick that you can hardly swing your gun. In the OP’s first pic, that looks a little too mature of an aspen/birch forest. Its still good habitat and cover, just not the best of the best. Find the area where the broomstick aspen meets the edge of the swamp. Those tag alders and spruce trees just outside of broomstick aspen will almost always have birds in it at some point of the day.

    Brittman
    Participant
    Posts: 1481
    #2241201

    Most ATV guys only slow down to pop the clover grouse.

    Atavar
    Participant
    Posts: 47
    #2241219

    Thanks for all the advice! I really appreciate it. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9750
    #2241264

    not sure why this is, but man when i actually went grouse hunting those birds where spooky, getting up way ahead.

    i spent the week after deer opener up there by myself and them grouse where all over. i could drive within 10 feet of them and all they’d do is mosey on. of course no scatter gun with.

    and this isnt the first t ime i’ve noticed this either……… doah i knoww what i’m doing next year!!! whistling waytogo

    bullcans
    Participant
    Northfield MN
    Posts: 1909
    #2241270

    This site is so great for learning stuff.

    Doesn’t always have to be about fishing either.
    I’ve learned a lot just by reading this post.

    Thanks all for sharing

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 2620
    #2241277

    not sure why this is, but man when i actually went grouse hunting those birds where spooky, getting up way ahead.

    was it a windy day when they were jumpy? grouse are very jumpy on windy days

    Brad Dimond
    Participant
    Posts: 1246
    #2241289

    We were up last week hunting the southwest corner of the Cloquet Valley State Forest. Plenty of birds and very abundant public land. State land and county land (mostly tax forfeit) have frequent logging roads. Walk the road, get off in areas with good cover (young aspen near tag alders and pines) and follow the dog. oNX is a great app for identifying public land vs. private land as well as having many other features. I strongly recommend adding it to your phone.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9750
    #2241447

    Gitchi…..that was back first part of oct…..dont recall. maaybe a few times!!!!

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