Last Saturday Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. got up early and headed up to Grand County, where we engaged in the pursuit of Colorado dusky grouse. Our efforts fell far short of hardcore, as we were more interested in enjoying a day in the mountains, away from the stress, strain and noise of the Denver area where we make our home. In that sense the day was a roaring success. We did see grouse, but only on private land on the drive in to the hunting area.
Again, not that disappointing. A day in the mountains cannot be disappointing. But the dusky grouse of the western mountains is indeed worth pursuing, especially early in the season.
Early in the season these plump birds are eating grass seeds, grasshoppers and berries, and are very tasty. I always recommend making them into a casserole or cooking them in a crock with a can of cream of onion or cream of celery tossed in; they are tasty but very lean, and if you cook them like chicken they’ll be tough and dry. Later in the season, along about late October or November, the birds have moved into the heavy timber and are eating needles, which can give them an unpleasant taste.
Early in the season, again, the birds are pretty tame. Mrs. Animal and I generally hunt them with .22 pistols, to make it interesting. These grouse will often just sit on the ground looking at you, or if they fly, they generally fly up to a low branch and sit looking down at you. In those circumstances they are very vulnerable to a well-placed .22LR standard-velocity target load. I have a 12-inch .22LR barrel with a 2.5x scope for my Contender, and can hit birds out to 75 yards with that rig very easily.
Next weekend is North Park’s one-weekend sage grouse season. I haven’t yet decided whether I want to go up and have a go at those big open-country birds. We’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy your day off, True Believers!