View Full Version : Grouse Etiquette

January 26, 2008, 08:47 PM
Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a guy regarding some of my past bird hunts. The conversation became heated when I told him that I'd rather take pats while they're walking or sitting prior to them flushing. Since I don't hunt with a dog, I figured it didn't matter to shoot them on the ground. This guy got bent out of shape and starts to give me a bunch of crap about it, probably because he hunts birds with dogs exclusively. It actually got to the point where I had to walk away from him. It made me wonder if there was a bird dog hunter mentality that looks down on those who hunt without dogs.

January 26, 2008, 08:58 PM
I went on a dove hunt this year where a two in the group shot two dove out of a tree. That's not my cup of tea, but I'm not going to get my feathers rustled over it. On quail hunts we only shoot at flushing birds, but you are right; it's over dogs. I don't fish with live bait typically either. I'd shoot a scaled quail on the ground.

January 26, 2008, 09:04 PM
Many consider shooting grouse, pheasant, quail, or ducks on the ground unsportsmanlike regardless of whether or not dogs are being used. The only time I would shoot them on the ground is in a survival situation. It is not a bird dog mentality issue, it's about SPORTSMANSHIP and many feel very strongly about it.

January 26, 2008, 09:27 PM
I can see hunters wanting to maintain a level of sportsmanship. I don't hunt quail, ducks, and rarely if ever hunt pheasants. I do hunt grouse though, and the land my family hunts is pretty thick and usually those birds flush long before we ever see them. When we do see the sitters or walkers, we choose to take them.

January 26, 2008, 10:23 PM
As far as sportsmanship goes, here's my take (for what little it's worth): Grouse evolved with two very dependable defensive traits: camouflage, and flight. If they sense you, they will remain stone-still, blending in with their surroundings. And if you get too close, they will fly out with enough noise from their beating wings to surprise and confuse predators, even humans. In my part of Wyoming (Sheridan) we had Blue and Ruff grouse. I was scared poopless (not literally) more times than I can remember while walking to the school bus half a mile away by a grouse thundering out of its hidey hole. Not to mention all time times I was startled by an unseen grouse while playing in the ravines or riding mountain bikes.

If you happen upon a grouse, and you can see it befoer it decides to take flight, then take your shot. You've beaten its evolved defense mechanisms. You've won. You may have gotten lucky, but you've beaten the bird. And if you do it without dogs, more power to you.

January 26, 2008, 10:38 PM
I used to hunt grouse. I didn't have a dog other than a beagle. He would bump up some birds. My experiance is crawling into the brush, shredding every inch of exposed skin. This just to have them flush only when I was crawling over or under something. If I would have caught one on the ground I would have wacked him.

January 27, 2008, 01:49 PM
Garryc, that is called hunting except for the wacked part at the end of your post. It is one of the reasons real bird hunters have dogs and why few hunt grouse. Plus, they aren't easy to hit when flushed. I don't know anyone who really needs the meat to eat. Hence you play by the rules hunting them. If there are dogs around, shooting on the ground does increase the potential for a dog to get shot by mistake.

We usually hunted them as part of rabbit hunting and there were almost always beagles around.

January 27, 2008, 03:48 PM
Bad form to shoot a sitting bird. It is about the sport after all. If it were only about food then you might as well buy a chicken.

I've hunted birds without a dog and you pretty much have to flush them yourself. Some birds will take off further away, some right under your feet.

January 27, 2008, 04:08 PM
I have 0 repeat 0 issues w/ shooting a bird on the ground, unless there are dogs around that might get shot. I usually don't have the luxury to hunt over dogs, so if given the opportunity to take a skillet shot, i'll do it. Just make sure you don't go over your limit. Same for doves. If you can "stalk" w/ in range, blast away...I figure it makes up for the effort:D!!! As far as I'm concerned, it's as much about the skillet as it is the sport.;)

February 1, 2008, 08:20 PM
Etiquette? Arkansas the buggers and fry them up..
Grouse deserve anything they get.....

February 1, 2008, 10:23 PM
What a snob :mad: If it's legal & safe then go for it! You have no one to answer to on how you hunt but yourself & the law.

February 2, 2008, 06:03 AM
I'm pretty sure it's illegal to shoot a sitting bird here in the UK.

Most bird hunting here is done on large estates by rich gits who line up and mow down hundreds of driven birds a day. Seems fairly unsporting to me...

Art Eatman
February 2, 2008, 10:30 AM
Back in bobwhite country, I generally waited until the birds flushed. More fun, more sporting.

In Terlingua, in blue quail country, it's a whole different deal. Blues won't hold a point. You bring a good, trained pointer out here and you better have a dog-psychiatrist on stand-by. Call 'em "run-run birds". Yeah, they'll fly--after they're out of shotgun range. :) You take whatever shot you can get. And usually, they're at least 30 yards out when you first see them.

Lawyer Daggit
February 2, 2008, 10:55 AM
Hell I am no purist and have head shot the occasional duck with a rifle in my time, when it has been sitting happily beside a pond, a man has, as they say, got to eat. However difficult snotting that little bobbing head is with a rifle it is not regarded as Cricket.

Why, The etiquette of the sport essentially dictate that you should not take birds on the ground.

If you are shooting at a swanky English game shoot, aside from being horrified at my behavior, they would frown upon the use of any shotgun other than a double barrelled shotgun and are adverse to cammo- you must wear tweeds.

February 2, 2008, 01:33 PM
Wayward Son brought up a good point in that if you have spotted the bird on the ground, you already have the upper hand. Why not challenge yourself a little further by trying to get as close to the bird as possible and shooting it in flight? I find a moving target more challenging to hit than a sitting duck ;).

Edit: Quarry escaping on foot is another story. :)

February 2, 2008, 10:30 PM
Grouse hunting here tends to be a part of hunting big game and as such many are taken with a 22 pistol, yes on the ground out of trees etc you might think of that as unsporting but if you haven't tried to knock the head off a grouse ptarmigan or hare with a pistol don't knock it.

February 3, 2008, 12:24 PM
I like the ones that are laying down.....:D.........on my pan, while being cooked. I very seldom have the chance to take one on the ground, but if I did shoot one I don't loose any sleep over it.

February 3, 2008, 01:21 PM
Ground-swatting is a little silly. If you just want some birds to eat, go to the store and buy a chicken.

All the guys I know who shoot them on the ground just do it so they can talk about how many grouse they shot.

I'd rather have 10-12 flushes, 3-4 shots, and one bird than 8 dead, ground-shot birds.

Maybe if there was a name for it... instead of "hunting" maybe we could just call it "killing".

February 4, 2008, 02:22 PM
How come turkey hunters get to shoot birds on the ground?

I know for a fact they can be killed in the air.

Hunting is just so confusing. ;)


February 5, 2008, 01:15 AM
Some of the bird hunter types are just up tight. Their way is the only way.

Some of these types get a bit impatient with the guy that is trying to teach his kid how to shoot clays with the Remington 870 as they stand their with their $3,000 O/U's rolling their eyes at each other. I've seen it first hand.

I would just take the exchange with this guy with a grain of salt. You did the right thing by walking away. Theres no need to roll around on the floor with somebody over something like this.

February 5, 2008, 02:13 AM
Ethics are a personal thing. I went many a season only shooting a flushed bird. Then we had some lean years, all day hunting and only 1-2 flushes. BUT there goes another ATV (4wheeler) putting down the trail. Or the Nimrod shooting from the road.
Nowadays i don't make a big deal about a bird on the ground. Just don't take to many. Think of the youngsters that would like to see a few birds.
personally i don't like hunting over a dog. You miss a lot of nature when you have to be focused on that soup hound. Yes you will probably be more successfully (bag) but hey, its your hunt, Hunt the way you enjoy.

February 7, 2008, 05:07 PM
Ground swatting game birds?

Survival situation? You betcha

When hunting? Not for me, thanks.

February 7, 2008, 11:20 PM
It's still hunting if you nail them on the ground...when was the last time you "winged" a deer???:D You still have to "hunt" to find them...I can't tell the difference in the pan or on the grill whether I shot em on the ground or the air...But NEVER NEVER NEVER shoot them on the ground if you are hunting with dogs...Good way to kill a dog...:(

Boris Bush
February 8, 2008, 12:22 AM
I hunted grouse for many years without a dog, and about 8 years with one, then she died and I haven't hunted birds with a dog since. We always hunted for meat. When we hunted with the dog NOTHING got shot on the ground. Every time we hunted without a dog the SOP was, run like a rabbit, die like a rabbit. That went for pheasants also.......

February 8, 2008, 10:32 AM
"if you want to eat a bird go buy a chicken"???:mad: How in the heck do you make a nasty azz commercially grown chicken taste like a dove or grouse? Some one been eatin' my brownies? If you are so dang set on shooting flyers go shoot some clays and boil them up! Same difference huh? I ain't never once hunted over dogs for birds and have shot a pretty equal amount of flying birds and grounded birds... I never once heard any one say MMMMM this chicken tastes just like grouse!

February 8, 2008, 05:29 PM
Geez, I've never thought twice about it. Most I've shot were airborne, but I've nailed a few on the ground. Everyone I've ever hunted with shoots them on the ground, too. We had one guy in our party who used a Springer Spaniel. We were all just very careful and aware of him (the spaniel). Heck, last time out my dad nailed three grouse one right after the other with his 870 before they ever knew what was going on. He was my idol that day. I was so flabbergasted at his speed that I didn't even get to raise my Stoeger 12 gauge double. I think if you're careful enough you're not going to accidentally shoot a dog.

February 8, 2008, 06:43 PM
Next thing you know, someone is going to come up w/ a rule that you got to shoot turkey on the wing...LOL:D...Before someone beats me to it...no, I won't shoot a turkey on the roost...It's illegal. If it were legal, I might...but since it's not, I won't...and don't...

February 8, 2008, 11:59 PM
I'm betting the ones listed below also own $6oo Orvis fly rods and would never utlize bait to teach their child the love of fishing. The point is,,, to each his own. I couldn't care less what you use or how you teach your child, it's his loss, not mine. What does tend to tweek my shorts is when you've set up a cold camp during bow season( shouldn't have to explain this) and a high dollar grouse hunter with his 2K pointing labs sets up 100 yds upstream from you and sets up at the creek and meadow that you just spent three nights listening to the elk come into. The first thing he does is lites a bonfire big enough to light up a small country Point is, there are bigger issues in terms of hunter etiquette than whether or not someone blasts a grouse on the ground.

"Some of these types get a bit impatient with the guy that is trying to teach his kid how to shoot clays with the Remington 870 as they stand their with their $3,000 O/U's rolling their eyes at each other. I've seen it first hand.

February 9, 2008, 12:39 AM
Hunted grouse for years in B. C. I used shotgun and a dog but accepted way was a good 22rf and head shoot 'em on the ground or in a tree. Locals could not understand my method! Ruffs (willow grouse) are great birds! I converted a few. And, I took a few with my 22rf! Good eating.

Recipe for Blue Grouse from an old timer there. Put grouse and a clean river rock in pot and bring to boil, then simmer overnight. Toss the Blue and eat the rock! Not too far out! :D

February 9, 2008, 10:01 AM
elkman...I feel your pain...I ran across one of those jerks at the gun club not to far back...I had just bought a new shotgun, and was trying to "learn" the pattern. This guy w/ his 3 o/u's was threating to have me kicked out for shooting two rounds at a clay...I told him I don't give a rats @$$ what he said. The club rules simply state no more than 2 shells...this is not a competition, I got here first, if you don't like it, go to another station. I'm trying to learn the new pattern of this gun. IF I ever see someone doing that crap when a kid/new shooter is involved, I'll be the first one coming to their defense. Kids/new shooters are key to the survivial of our sport. These premadona's (sp??) had didn't start off being experts either...And I'll gladly remind of that fact...:mad:

February 9, 2008, 10:09 AM
Those types crack me up. I'd love to show them up with my $250 Stoeger double.

February 9, 2008, 12:49 PM
I've done a nice job w/ my sister's Stevens side by side. double triger & all. I don't knock stoegers...They're great guns. Do they have choke tubes?

February 9, 2008, 02:25 PM
Uppity snobs could end up seeing the white whale in my presence! I am real quick to stand for the "under dog"! I hope someone is there to back me up the day I have some snooty prick breathing down my neck when I try my hand at clays with my all black 500 18.5 inch barrel...
As for fish bait... if you are so SORRY a fisherman that you cannot procure the local bait species on yer own... YOU SIMPLY SUCK! I have a dozen methods to catch my bait and only one involves buying CRAP at walmart only designed to catch benjamin fish...

February 9, 2008, 02:57 PM
Mine is an Uplander and it has a permanent full & modified chokes on 26" barrels. It's been a wonderful gun.

February 10, 2008, 11:22 AM
They will not fly, they stay on the ground in thick brush and where I hunt if U do shoot a flying bird the terrian is so steep you are looking at a long march thru impassiable brush, and if you don't have a dog U will not find the bird.

occasionaly on will flush over a skid trail where a flying shot is possible, but if U waited for Mtn. quail to flush you might only need a hand full of shells all season.

SO what is more ethical shooting a bird you can find or shooting birds for coyotes

February 10, 2008, 02:41 PM
I think we scared the uppidies off...:D

February 22, 2008, 03:15 PM
Uppity .... I won't eat a Ruffed (Willow) Grouse that is not shot with a side by side! 20g or 28g preferably. :D:D

Pheasants, a good O/Uis okay.

Quail, 28G SxS or O/U!

Chukar ... I like claymores for those goats!!! After chasing them from hilltop to hilltop just want to ring the hilltop and blow them away.

Sparrows and Meadowlarks ... 410 bore. Model 42 (the Winc, not the Brn). By the way Meadowlarks taste better than dove! My G-Mother would cook anyhthing I brought home.

February 26, 2008, 12:15 AM
I'm not opposed to it... I like shooting birds on the wing because it challenges me but so does sneaking up on them.

February 26, 2008, 01:44 AM
I get them in the air!!:D Yeah I got a couple of "bird hunters" ticked this year, mostly because I reamed them for loosing birds they shot :) mine NEVER get away. My reason for bring more than a pump is to make sure the bird I do shoot goes down and stays down, I hate lossing birds that I know I hit, so I use more gun to make sure.