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Old August 18, 2013, 05:37 AM   #26
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Most first shots are 5 to 15 feet, at most. The rare occasion of a second shot is usually 20 to 45 seconds later (after a short relocation), and 20 to 40 feet, at most. So, choke doesn't matter much, and there is almost always time to reload even the slowest single-shot. I generally don't even bother trying to shoot, unless I have a head shot opportunity (at 10 feet, a 12 ga to the chest doesn't leave much bird to pick up).

Wow....such a different experience described by most of you fellows.
Hunting here in the uplands of NE and Central PA, we see an average of one ruffed grouse an hour.....and that is hunting with a dog.
We find them in huckleberry thickets and amongst Autumn Olives....thickets so brushy sometimes that when my dog is ten feet away and on point, I cannot see her.
In the early season, we frequently hear a bird go but never see the little rocket.
Through the years that I have hunted grouse, I have seen one on a road precisely once. And I was in a car.
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Old August 18, 2013, 06:14 PM   #27
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darkgael -
Different worlds, it seems.
Most hunters out west don't even "hunt" grouse. We just pick them off as targets of opportunity, on our way back to camp during other hunting seasons. (I'm sure human population density is a factor in grouse habits and habitat.)

If you're in grouse country here, it isn't uncommon to flush them every few minutes - and that's not counting the birds that sit tight, and let you walk past.
Ruffed and Duskies like the trees, and usually just sit in the shadows of some low pine bows without flushing. Even if they do flush, they don't go very far. On average, I'd say they only go 15 to 20 feet, before ducking into some thick brush or under another tree. And, they'll sit there, letting you close the distance again.

One of my brothers has killed more with clubs (tree branches), than he has with a firearm. Generally, the shots we take are on birds we just happen to notice before we get close.

The various species of Sage grouse are a bit different, and will often flush in groups of 3-5 .... at distances ranging from 25 feet to just as you step on them. They're bigger, slower targets, that aren't hard to shoot on the wing; since they tend not to fly directly away from the shooter, but in sort of an increasing-radius arc. But, that usually isn't necessary. They often give themselves away by taking a few steps, then pausing before reassessing the threat and taking flight. That pause gives a hunter the opportunity to knock them over on the ground.

Just for the record - I've never been good at spotting stationary grouse. They have to be REALLY obvious, or moving, for me to see them. I have a lot of respect for the guys that can pick out the tiny little grouse eyeballs in the shadows, at 50 yards.

We do seem to have it easier, out here.
During the '98 deer hunt one of my brothers filled his tag early. For the rest of the hunt, he carried a shotgun. On one particular hike back to camp, we ignored all of the grouse we saw (not wanting to carry them), until we came across a large group we couldn't pass up in the middle of the trail. They were lined up like Rockettes.
Less than 30 feet and 7 rounds later, we had 13 grouse for dinner. And only two of them made it off the trail before they died.
It wasn't really an unusual encounter, other than the way they were lined up.
"Such is the strange way that man works -- first he virtually destroys a species and then does everything in his power to restore it."
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Old August 18, 2013, 07:50 PM   #28
Lucas McCain
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Location: Callaway, MN
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Here we have Hungarian Partridge which are about the size of quail, they like grass edges and fence lines, in the fields,and wild as hell. They generally flush as a covey way ahead of you and you need to watch where they go . Once they are busted up they sit quite tight and can be had.
Then there is Sharptails which are the size of a pheasant. They will be found in the same cover as the Hungarian but when they flush they land in the middle of the field or pasture and are impossible to get a shot at, you won't get within 250 yards and they are gone again.
Then we have the Spruce Grouse which we call a "Fool Hen". They can be killed with a stick, and many times are caught by the dog. They are very similar to the Ruffed grouse we have, but don't taste as good.
"Old Ruff" is the best eating of any bird (IMHO) that there is. He's also the fastest and sneakiest of birds. In my 60 some years of hunting I have never shot my limit of 5.
My gun of choice is a 20 ga side by side with 8s or 9s. The pattern is dense so I get a lot of head shots and very few wounded runners. They are a real pleasure to hunt. Especially late in the season when there is plenty of snow. That is an awesome experience when they explode out of the snow. That has happened to me 3-4 times and everytime it rattled me so much that they got away. He's just a great bird.
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