Try this ruffed grouse hunting hack on slow days in your covers
However predictable we think Ruffed Grouse are when they feed, it only goes so far. Some days I wake up wanting eggs and bacon while on others it’s cold pizza that calls my name from the fridge. Sure, there is a list of food sources for Grouse, but to understand what particular item is on the menu that day can be challenging. There is one small catch to this ruffed grouse hunting hack—you need a dead Grouse.
The saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” has never been so literally true. The “bird in the hand” presents valuable intel as to what is going on that day in the Grouse woods. By cutting open the gullet of your first bird, you can see exactly where the rest of his grouse friends are that day.
While filming a Project Upland film in Michigan this past season, we were having trouble getting into the grouse. Then, just like that, we walked up on a single grouse that was almost too heavy to fly because she was in the midst of a feeding frenzy. A quick inspection of her loaded gullet produced a pile of Hawthorn Berries. We had discovered our grouse hunting hack of the day.
An hour later, as we worked a cover full of Hawthorns, the action was as heavy as I had ever seen.
Of course, all days do not go as smoothly as I’m recounting here. It’s not exactly a simple thing to find that first grouse, that grouse that’s the key to unlocking the door. So in more severe cases, it might be better to target a list of known food sources rather than pound cover after cover. For that you need a keen understanding of ruffed grouse habitat. Once you see the action pick up, be sure to make a note of what food sources are surrounding the cover. That will be the first clue to helping get the first grouse in hand.
To anyone new to the grouse hunting game, also note that a lack of water can play a significant factor in empty covers. It’s not always the subject of food. In drier seasons, water sources abutting grouse covers like beaver ponds, streams, and brooks can reap similar results. Unlike the pizza I craved this morning, I always need water to live.
A.J. DeRosa is an American filmmaker and the Founder and Creative Director of Northwoods Collective. While he is most widely known for the award-winning Project Upland series, he made his first mark in the hunting industry as the critically-acclaimed author of the cult classic The Urban Deer Complex and, more recently, The Urban Deer Complex 2.0. A.J. expanded his work toward the larger mission of recruiting and welcoming millennial hunters by conducting and applying cutting-edge market research across the Northwoods Collective brands. Now a passionate bird hunter, you can find A.J. following Grim, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, through the uplands with his wife, Sabrina, and oldest son, Marty McFly.