Ruffed Grouse

I haven’t had a blog entry on ruffed grouse yet because I have very little experience hunting them with a GWP. This blog entry will grow as I get more time hunting them in the next few seasons. I have it on my bucket list to visit the northeast and go on a ruffed grouse hunt. I might have to trade someone a hunt out west for an eastern hunt or get another GWP hunter to be a quest writer.

The 1st time I experience ruffed grouse was in northern Idaho whitetail hunting in the early 90’s. I was creeping through some super thick cover slowly and quietly tracking a nice buck in two foot of fresh powdery snow when a grouse exploded at my feet. I don’t know how I kept from falling over backwards or firing my rifle in the air. I encountered lots of grouse on my annual trip up north whitetail hunting over the next few years.

When Cruiser was a pup and we were still living in Idaho one time Jodi went to a dog show in Spokane Washington, and I went along and went deer hunting over in Idaho. I took Cruiser out between dog shows and got him on some ruffed grouse. I didn’t get any shooting because the cover was so thick I could barely swing my gun. That was the only time I tried hunting them with a GWP in northern Idaho.

While living in the Black Hills of South Dakota I saw a few while deer hunting, and one morning there was one in a pine tree right by our house. I was told there was a good population of them in the Black Hills, but even though I ran the dogs in the hills a lot I never got a point on one.

There are some in southern Idaho as well and I have gone hunting for them in recent years with different GWP’s and I even got a point on one in the fall of 2013. It was standing on a log with the dog ten feet behind it and when I took a step a few flushed, but I had no shot.

This is my ruffed grouse hunting experience with a GWP, but I have figured out where they live close to my home here in Wyoming so next year I’m going to get some quality hunting in, and I have a few places in southern Idaho to go. Maybe I’ll even find time for that trip back east.

We are in the process of moving to western Washington where there is plenty of ruffed grouse hunting. I should get some experience. Below is a picture of Quiz with my first Washington ruffed grouse.

I have now had three seasons hunting the ruffed grouse in the coastal hills of western Washington. It is not a high volume shooting experience, but there are a lot of ruffed grouse in the area. A GWP is a great dog for this type of hunting. The area I hunt is a jungle and very difficult to hunt. You need a brush busting dog that has a lot of desire to find the birds. This area also has lots of steep plant covered terrain that is almost impossible to navigate. The hills are not high, but they are steep. I have found if you stay on the ridge you can walk around better and let the dog work the sides. There are some elk trials and bear trails that make it a little easier to get around. The dogs need to figure out how to work the steep slick slopes. This is probably much different than hunting ruffed grouse in other parts of the country. I’ve always been told by people from back east to hunt the edges for ruffed grouse. The thick coastal forest doesn’t have any edges, its a solid wall of vegetation. I have found grouse in the very thick stuff. The dogs that have done the best for me are bigger older GWP’s. I have hunted some younger dogs, but they seem to run out of gas fighting the jungle. With the low volume of birds I think they get a little tired of just busting brush for no reason in their minds.

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4 thoughts on “Ruffed Grouse

  1. Come to northern MN anytime! It is the ruffed grouse capital of North America, after all. I hunt with a two year old out of Dirty Harry

    • I spent a little time in Northern MN in the mid 80’s when I was stationed in Grand Forks ND. It’s very neat country. The Dirty Harry off spring would be great to see as well. I hunted Harry the 1st couple years of his life and I still haven’t found a dog with as good of a nose as him. He is right at the top of the list of my favorite hunting dogs. His only problem was he didn’t like the hot dry conditions since he was a big solid liver boy and would over heat. The northwoods are a great place for him. I’ll keep in touch and might have to come out there next hunting season. Thanks for the invite.

    • Thanks for the reply. I have seen more grouse each year I’ve been here hunting them. I don’t know if it is because I’m learning how to hunt them or if it is there are more out there to find. I do like how a lot of the roads are closed off so you have to walk in to hunt them. I don’t try to hunt until the leaves are gone, but maybe next year I’ll try some early season hunting. Most of the time I’m hunting other states earlier and closer to home late season.

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