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How to hunt for grouse with no dog

  • crawdaddy
    Participant
    St. Paul MN
    Posts: 824
    #2143082

    I live in the cities. I’ve seen a few grouse here and there. We went for them one time, but I only got woodcock. What tactics do you use hunting them alone? And yes if I saw one along the trail I’d blast it, but I’m not just gonna drive around all day looking to be a lazy road hunter. Thanks in advance.

    Reef Whooligan
    Participant
    Posts: 1610
    #2143093

    Where are you going? I generally walk any kind of old trail, preferably ones too small or overgrown for ATVs, and look for a few things. Walk not too fast and stop for a few seconds occasionally so you don’t walk by before they get nervous and fly. I think lower ground is almost always better so look for the swampy areas or along water. Clearings are good, poke around the edges of those. If it’s a clear-cut then I actually go into the woods around it specifically any “points” where the woods stick out into clearing or where there’s a corner or something other than a straight edge. Any kind of food is good so if you find Aspen or berries check that out. If you see one go off the trail there a bit and see if there are more. They usually don’t fly far and you could probably jump one again if you follow it. Often they’ll fly into a tree so pay attention to direction it went and how far you think it went and spend some time looking carefully because they’re really hard to see until all of the sudden it’s right there staring at you. A lot of it is just putting on miles though and learning spots for next time.

    Gerty
    Participant
    Posts: 200
    #2143100

    This…..

    Sorry, can’t seem to get my “be very, very quiet” Elmer Fudd meme to work!

    gimruis
    Participant
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts: 7859
    #2143102

    Walk not too fast and stop for a few seconds occasionally so you don’t walk by before they get nervous and fly.

    Before I had a dog, this is exactly how I hunted pheasants and grouse. The walk and stop method made them nervous. Don’t be afraid to stop for up to a couple minutes or more. Try to stop so that you’re in a decent shooting position when grouse hunting too. If you stop right in the middle of a thick briar patch, you won’t be able to get a shot off anyways.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2143111

    Reef gave some good pointers.

    One thing I’ll throw in is spend as much time as possible scouting maps, specifically OnX and google maps. You only have limited time to hunt, so the key is to be more efficient with that limited time and only hunt promising areas and not waste time on dead areas.

    One of my favorite tools is the young aspen map layer on OnX. Find some trails with patches of young aspen mixed with old forest. Forest diversity (both old and young stands) is key to hold numbers of grouse.

    Finally, always walk with two hands on your gun, ready to shoulder it at any moment. When you get tired and carry the gun in a more comfortable way that you can’t shoulder as fast is when you’re finally going to flush a bird and you’re not going to be able to shoulder the gun fast enough to get a good shot.

    Carter Johnson
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 1063
    #2143115

    These guys covered it very well. One thing to note is mid october was my favorite time of year. The birds still feel like they have cover but you can see fairly well into the trees by this time. One other tip is just getting away from pressure. Not sure where you plan on going but if its a bigger forest try to find trails that you dont see anyone using.

    suzuki
    Participant
    Woodbury, Mn
    Posts: 16544
    #2143118

    I have hunted Grouse most of my life without a dog. You dont need one to get flushes like you do with pheasant. You just have to walk where they are. Frequent pausing, look and listen. If you hear one drumming you can head straight to it for a flush as well. I could go on and on since Grouse have been my favorite game since I could walk. I will add that early season has always gotten a bad rap by some but can be some of the most productive of the year. I always hunt opener and usually every weekend in Sept. Especially applicable to good areas that are easily accessible. Be the first. You can walk further in later in the season.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2143119

    These guys covered it very well. One thing to note is mid october was my favorite time of year. The birds still feel like they have cover but you can see fairly well into the trees by this time. One other tip is just getting away from pressure. Not sure where you plan on going but if its a bigger forest try to find trails that you dont see anyone using.

    to expand on that, if you have a mountain bike or fat tire bike, they are great tools to get deeper into the woods into the less pressured areas without the need for an expensive, noisy ATV. You can get a couple miles in and start hunting at a spot on the trail where most guys are turning around and heading back to the truck. It really opens up your options and they are very stealthy. Side note – you need a shoulder strap for your gun with this approach.

    Reef Whooligan
    Participant
    Posts: 1610
    #2143132

    One of my favorite tools is the young aspen map layer on OnX. Find some trails with patches of young aspen mixed with old forest.

    I never even knew OnX had that! Turns out almost the entire area I hunt is covered though lol

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 2424
    #2143148

    Great points by all of you guys. Put in the time, I have hunted most of my life without a dog also. If you can go with a buddy or two and we always would walk together keeping a decent distance between us but so you could easily see them and communicate, like other said stop and talk the birds will get nervous and flush. The biggest problem is the pressured birds flush to far away, so again like mentioned go further than the other guys.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2143194

    I never even knew OnX had that! Turns out almost the entire area I hunt is covered though lol

    I didn’t know it was a thing until recently when I was browsing all the map layers. Similar to you, once I turned it on and checked my favorite hunting areas, they were covered with young aspen stands.

    Another good OnX map layer is the Timber Cuts layer. It will show the year a given cut was harvested. So it lets you rule out the stuff that’s only a year or two removed from being harvested and focus on the cuts that are around ~10 years old which is more the ideal regrowth period for upland birds to be more concentrated in those particular timber stands.

    For example, here are some stands that were harvested in 2008 that are currently filled with young aspen (the red highlights) that appears to be surrounded by some old growth and there is a trail running right thru it. Looks like a good spot to hit

    Attachments:
    1. 2022.png

    Bassn Dan
    Participant
    Posts: 939
    #2143228

    Like fishing, focus on edges, transitions, and contours – all high percentage areas that you can “push” the birds into flushing.

    The “walk and stop” method suggested works, but an article I read many years ago suggested “trot and stop” and my success rate went WAY up doing that. Many birds will run ahead of you or off to the side when you walk, but they panic and freeze in place when they hear something running in the woods. Do the “walk and stop” in low percentage areas to drive the birds, and then trot a few steps or so toward an edge/cover transition/contour and then stop abruptly. The birds will freeze in place so be ready for them to flush because they think they’ve been spotted – especially when you take a couple steps toward their likely hiding spot after pausing.

    I always thought someone is going to think I’m some kind of maniac running through the woods with a shotgun, but this works very well. Just be sure of your footing when running and keep your finger OFF the trigger in case you stumble. Good luck.

    suzuki
    Participant
    Woodbury, Mn
    Posts: 16544
    #2143237

    Like fishing, focus on edges, transitions, and contours – all high percentage areas that you can “push” the birds into flushing.

    The “walk and stop” method suggested works, but an article I read many years ago suggested “trot and stop” and my success rate went WAY up doing that. Many birds will run ahead of you or off to the side when you walk, but they panic and freeze in place when they hear something running in the woods. Do the “walk and stop” in low percentage areas to drive the birds, and then trot a few steps or so toward an edge/cover transition/contour and then stop abruptly. The birds will freeze in place so be ready for them to flush because they think they’ve been spotted – especially when you take a couple steps toward their likely hiding spot after pausing.

    I always thought someone is going to think I’m some kind of maniac running through the woods with a shotgun, but this works very well. Just be sure of your footing when running and keep your finger OFF the trigger in case you stumble. Good luck.

    hmmmm I walk a fast pace when hunting. This could explain some of my success?
    I aint running though! )

    tegg
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi/Aitkin Co
    Posts: 1450
    #2143265

    I echo a lot of what is already mentioned. I’ve had a chance to hunt a 300+ acre plot my whole life and the highest percentage spots generally have similar things in common. There’s usually some type of open area (trail, forest opening/logging landing, field edge, old pasture, etc) that has adjacent thick ground/overhead cover (tag alder, young aspen cut, balsam/spruce stand, thick nut brush, etc.) and interspersed with more mature aspen trees. Basically the edges & diversity people have talked about. I think the open areas provide clovers & soft mast producing trees for food. Thick ground cover provides overhead protection and the more mature trees provide winter food.

    I don’t know if others agree but I’ve noticed larger tracks of presumably good looking cover doesn’t necessarily translate to better bird flushes (even the young aspen stands). To me it seems you have to find the spot on the spot. Part of my primary hunting area was logged in 2014 and some of the young aspen stands have been prime for woodcock the past few years but the grouse seem to only use certain corners where it transitions to a different cover type. I’ve hunted larger pieces of cover that looked like they had the goods (at least the thick cover part) but probably lacked the diversity to create the food sources they use.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 9755
    #2143284

    I love OnX Maps and had no idea those layers were there! Thanks for sharing that it is sweet.

    suzuki
    Participant
    Woodbury, Mn
    Posts: 16544
    #2143318

    Here’s a question. It ties into a post on the General Forum.
    Can you ride a bike with a loaded gun? Can you shoot from it?

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2143386

    Here’s a question. It ties into a post on the General Forum.
    Can you ride a bike with a loaded gun? Can you shoot from it?

    As far as I can tell, the hunting regs don’t explicitly call it out; only regs I see are around motorized vehicles. But common sense can give you the answer as to if it’s a good idea or not

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 2424
    #2143607

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>suzuki wrote:</div>
    Here’s a question. It ties into a post on the General Forum.
    Can you ride a bike with a loaded gun? Can you shoot from it?

    As far as I can tell, the hunting regs don’t explicitly call it out; only regs I see are around motorized vehicles. But common sense can give you the answer as to if it’s a good idea or not

    It would still be considered a motorized vehicle. So that’s a firm no.

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