Here in Utah as in our own Colorado, the season on forest grouse opens early – September 1st in both places. Grouse are frequently taken as a tasty camp diet supplement during deer and elk hunts, but they can make for a fun hunt all on their own.
In Colorado, we only have the Duskies, which (at least when it comes to young birds) aren’t always hard to take. Mrs. Animal has taken quite a few with a .22 target pistol, and yr. obdt. routinely pops them with an old Colt Officer’s Target in .22LR as well. Young birds tend to fly to the nearest branch and stare down at you. Later in the season, the survivors and the mature birds are spooked enough to make for good wingshooting.
But here in northern Utah, there are Ruffed Grouse living alongside the Duskies, and they are a whole different story. Ruffies flush like mad and fly fast and crooked, weaving between trees and slamming down into the thickest cover they can find, and one would swear they leave smoke trails through the forest. The Old Man was a master at picking out a gap in the trees and arranging for a charge of #7 1/2 birdshot to arrive at the same time as a fleeing grouse, a skill I have yet to perfect. Then again, he used the same shotgun for sixty years, while I have the unfortunate collector’s bug when it comes to shooting irons.
But this fall I’ll get some more practice on the fast-flying Ruffies, beginning on Labor Day weekend. A few early scouting trips has revealed some promising bird thickets within a short drive of the digs here in Layton, and in fact the Old Man’s old shotgun is here with me. Maybe some of the luck he always had with it will rub off? I’d also like to try out my recently restored, light-and-fast 16 gauge Model 12 on grouse – there I go with the collector’s bug again, but one takes one’s fun where one finds it.
Beginning in September, look for some hunt reports.