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Thread: Planning 1st Spruce Grouse Hunt

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    Default Planning 1st Spruce Grouse Hunt

    So my son is about to turn ten, and I've signed us both up for the next AK Hunter Ed and I'm about to pass down my Dad's Winchester 20 ga SXS. We have some land and a cabin in Unit 16 that is always full of spruce grouse, but I've only taken photos so far.

    Should I bother with camouflage; they don't exactly seem to be the smartest creatures out there. If so, what's a good pattern for that use in that area? The other half of that question is can birds see color or not? (I'd like to get him his first hunting coat or vest, and I'm leading towards either an orange camo pattern or a plain orange, given that the deer family are color blind.) What's a good general pattern for AK?

    Is there anything else I should know before we start out next month?

    Thanks.

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    Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    I think the orange is a good bet. I don't really use camo for anything but duck hunting these days. I tend to stick to more natural colors that hopefully kind of blend in. I think the orange is good for upland bird hunting situations where one will be jumping birds that may not fly in the directions one would hope! I think the spruce hens will hear you before they see you and will probably just hunker down as is their nature.

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    Good to hear getting a kid out there. Spruce grouse are pretty dumb fer sure, Id get him hooked on headshots only with a .22. Still a challenge and no meat loss. Thats what me and my son have been doing for years...Good Luck.

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    One day I was comming home from work and There was a 17 grouse (most full grown grouse I have ever seen together) all sittin on this dirt road a take, so I dropped my 4 wheeler a gear to get some speed goin, and I went right through the out side of them, tryin to get one to flush, and one did, just as I expected, right infront of me, and I was going fast enough so it hit my bumper and it was somewhat stuck, so I reached down and grabbed its neck and had that bad boy for dinner. I went through a couple more times that morning and almost got a couple more. I had used that technique before when I didn't have a gun, and I'm sure I'll use it again (the boss isn't real happy when I shot up with a gun to work Lol)

    I have never worn camo and I don't think its needed. Spruce grouse are dumb, but they arent stupid, after "hunting" the whole off season (and of course, regualr grouse season) have made some observations.

    1. They stay in one place when they see danger, but they always keep an eye on em, I think that way hawks can't see em
    2. They "flush in front of your nose" because if a coyote is trotting along and all of a sudden his face is full of feathers he's prolly not exacially gonna be thinkin "hey theres dinner I better grab its neck"
    3. they are really protective of thier own. When they still have thier babys (they sometimes are still together during the first few weeks of grout season) even if thier baby's are mostly grown, they will stick around and give thier life for thier kids.
    4. there "stay in one place"technique is valid, I have walked right by a grouse hunkered in a bush and I heart a twig snap and I turned around and I saw it sneaking out behind me.
    5. they know if your watching them. I have done a series of tests and my results have been then if you stare at them they get ready to fly and if you move they will fly, if you keep walkin and not look at them, they are less likely to flush.
    uhh. this list didn't turn out as good in writing as it did in my head. (that happens every time I open my mouth) but you catch my drift.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Member akgun&ammo's Avatar
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    Due to the season starting in september, I would lean toward a decent hunter orange vest. Get one at least one size to big, maybe two. When it starts to snow the vest will be over his coat. Here is another suggestion- the first bird he gets, you put a drop of blood on his forehead and a feather from his game on his vest. Let him respect the game, and learn how good eating they can be if fixed right. Take the tail and pin it to a piece of cardboard and coat the body end in borax. Leave it to dry good, and he will have a nice looking memento for show and tell, or his bedroom wall.

    Chris

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    Nice post by Chris. Teaching your child to respect the animals he pursues is never a bad idea! Calling a spruce grouse "dumb" would be like calling a musk ox "dumb." It's simply not true. Their technique for survival, which has evolved for thousands of years, can make them easy prey for humans. However, those same techniques are what keep them safe from the predators that hunt them. Iím sure that most unsuspecting hunters have walked by more spruce grouse then they have seen. I hope you take the time to teach your son about the grouse he intends to harvest. The harvesting part of that just brings it all full circle. Iím not even going to comment on the guy running down game animals with an ATV. Not sure how that is even legal.

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    Thanks Hoyt for over simplifying the generalization of the word used to describe grouse as dumb...LOL. Im pretty sure its a general term we use to describe them as they appear to us.Next time the grouse is sitting there one branch up a tree ill think to myself,that grouse is a genius...hehe..Happy hunting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danthedewman1 View Post
    Thanks Hoyt for over simplifying the generalization of the word used to describe grouse as dumb...LOL. Im pretty sure its a general term we use to describe them as they appear to us.Next time the grouse is sitting there one branch up a tree ill think to myself,that grouse is a genius...hehe..Happy hunting.
    You're welcome. I agree that is how people generally perceive them. I don't have a problem with that. It is what it is. I was looking at this post from the point of teaching/taking a child hunting. Teaching a kid an animal is "dumb," instead of why the animal does what it does isnít good in my opinion. Bull moose aren't dumb, but we all know they act that way in rut! I'd rather teach a kid about the rut, then just tell, "Hey go shoot that dumb moose over there." That is all I was saying........that and that spruce grouse aren't "dumb."

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    And yet the woodcock, a bird steeped in tradition, written about in a great many books and countless magazine articles, a game bird with a somewhat cult following, will also sit just inches from a bird dog's quivering nose as a hulk of a homo-sapien clumsily approaches closely, takes 10 or 20 photographs and then nudges into flight so he can shoot at it. Interesting, I think.Our game birds - each of them - has developed it's own strategies for defense from approaching danger, methods honed 24/7/365 and originating through genetics and training from parents and siblings. Birds learn early in a life that is destined to be very short anyway, that to fly is to die! Perhaps we should instead view this spruce grouse, or ptarmigan, or even some ruffed and sharp- tailed grouse that seem to sit too long, as absolutely courageous in the face of great danger? Anyhow, I love the spruce grouse, a quite beautiful grouse, a bird that has opened up a wonderful world of interest, excitement and wonder for many a pup - both k9 and human!Awkwardly typed on my goofy little IPad,Jim

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    A fall spruce grouse tastes very good - I like to put a whole bird in the crock pot to make a good broth, then pick the meat off the bones and add the meat and some rice back to the broth (add carrots, celery, peppers, and onions to taste).

    Just because an individual grouse is easy to kill doesn't make the hunt any less worthwhile. You won't find any in your living room (except Hoyt will find them picking gravel under the eave of his house), which means you have to go HUNTING to find them. The walk in the woods is worth it with a kiddo, and once you stumble onto some grouse, it'll be even better.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    So my son is about to turn ten, and I've signed us both up for the next AK Hunter Ed and I'm about to pass down my Dad's Winchester 20 ga SXS. We have some land and a cabin in Unit 16 that is always full of spruce grouse, but I've only taken photos so far.
    Is that a Model 24? Hopefully it is a modified/improved and not the overly common full/modified. A Model 24 20g in I/M is pretty rare these days. They handle amost as good as the 16g I/M which is nearly the most perfect upland gun ever made. The 20g is just a little "whippy" due to its lighter weight. Like any light gun the shooter needs to have a good solid gun mount or it will nail their shoulder. If it is a full/modified it will have longer 28 to 30 inch barrels and will be rather heavy to the front end. It could be hard for a 10 year old to swing for wing shooting and at the typical close range of spruce hen hunting the full choke and even the modified can be way too tight.

    If it were me I would use a .22 rifle and do spot and stalk to within a comfortable range. Shot selection, background safety, and stealth can all be taught. Since we dont' have quality squirrel hunting up here the spruce hen has to fill in that void for young hunters.

    Get a vest with orange on it so that he can use it in other places. Group hunts for pheasant in the midwest everyone should have a orange vest and hat on due to the tall cover and fast action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    What's a good general pattern for AK?
    Orange is a great investment for any bird hunting and other Outside pursuits. Pack a camera and some snacks.
    Go Big Red!

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    Thanks for all of your comments. I appreciate the disagreement on the use of the term "dumb." I hadn't really made a connection to all the ramifications of that usage.

    I think Sportsman's has a pretty nice youth orange vest with padded shoulders that I will buy (and myself one, too) and leave it at that.

    As for the two suggestions for using a 22, I don't think he's there yet, so I felt the 20 ga would be a better choice for the actual hunting. (I do have a Marlin Model 60 he could use, but it's way too long for him, as it was for me when my Dad gave it to me.) I think, at some point, I may take him to Birchwood and try clays for a day.

    AK Ray, it is a Model 24 with a 1947 production date. Foolishly, I can't tell you what the chokes are. I can't find any markings anywhere to verify that. I can tell you that it's a 2" bbl and that it's stock-heavy. (The center balancing point is immediately forward of the trigger guard. At any rate, that's what we have to work with; he gets my dad's and I use my grandfather's Model 50 Winchester.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    AK Ray, it is a Model 24 with a 1947 production date. Foolishly, I can't tell you what the chokes are. I can't find any markings anywhere to verify that.
    You have to take the fore arm off and then you will see choke marks on the under side of the barrels. Very strange place to put the choke information. There are two screws on the fore end stock and I can't recall which one takes the stock off and which one allows for taking off the barrels. I think it is the one that is more centered fore to aft on the stock that will work for getting to the guts of the barrels.

    If it is the 26" or 24" barrel version it should be I/M. A serious bob white killer back in the day.

    The tang safety can be an issue if he has small hands. And then there are the double triggers. They take some getting used to. My dad grew up using both fingers like his uncles. When I used the gun I prefered to finger shift, but it caused some missed birds when I was real young. If his hands are small he may be forced to finger shift or only use one shell. One shell is a great youth safety measure anyway.

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    I started upland and waterfowl hunting when I was very young in the prairie pothole region of North Dakota. I learned that it was unthinkable to shoot a bird sitting on the ground or the water (we didnít really have tree sitters there) I tagged along and learned how to respect the birds and cleaned a vast number of them before I ever got to fire a shot. I learned that most of what the hunt was about was the opportunity to be outdoors, greet the birds on their own turf and learn about what it takes for these marvels to make a living in their environment. The spruce grouse, in spite of all of the comments of their stupidity is a great game bird if you hunt them on terms that level the playing field. Now donít get me wrong, I understand the .22 rifle shot to the head, it is very efficient and will certainly put meat in the pot. But it sounds as if you are introducing the young fellow to the marvelous world of upland hunting, steeped in tradition and worthy of great respect.
    No camouflage is required of any upland hunting; blaze orange is an excellent safety feature that will have no detrimental effect on the hunting.
    The 20 gauge M24 would have been a dream for me, I started with an H&R 20 gauge single shot at the age of nine and graduated to a M12 16 gauge the next year. But as I grew up I came to believe the only respectable way to honor upland birds was with a double gun. Again, no disrespect to whatever everyone else does that is legal. If you can, get that young lad to a skeet field and get him some practice. Heíll have an idea what to expect when a spruce grouse explodes at his feet or from the branch that you throw the stick at to get it to fly. Then get out in the woods, hunt areas next to trails where they are coming for grit. Yeah, it is a hellava lot more difficult than flushing them up from the road and following with a shot on a tree branch. But the experience and the lifetime rewards of really working for an animal that has a very tough row to hoe is what, in my opinion, young hunters need to learn. Hunting and flushing this great game bird and taking them on the wing is a great experience for any hunter and the young fellow will have the opportunity to shoot a lot (which kids love) and earn his first bird. A bonus would be a dog to help with the either pointing or flushing, and element of upland hunting that adds immeasurably to the experience.
    With all of that, I admit to being a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to tradition and the hunt being more about the pursuit than the take and this is only one old hunterís opinion.

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    Well put, sameyer.

    About three years ago I met a young man who had been given my book to read, and his dad said he read from it every day. The boy was 10, wanted to be a bird hunter, and from reading my words knew well how I feel about such hunting. I took him hunting with me and my dogs one fine autumn day and on the way to HIS covert he was wanting to share with me, we talked of safety matters and about how he would go about shooting a grouse once the dogs went on point. He proudly stated "Oh, Jim, I shoot 'em flyin'!" Well, I doubted that but soon after the dogs were put down on the ground they were on point up ahead in thick spruce. Once past the dogs I allowed this boy to load his gun and proceed forward. A spruce grouse got up and raced through the forest and this young lad with a Rem 870 in 20 gauge that was way too big a gun for him dropped that bird to the ground! He accepted the bird from one of my dogs and said how he thought maybe he shot too quick and maybe he should have let it "get out a ways?" I pat him on the back and congratulated him, and after admiring his grouse we moved on. Lucky shot? Maybe? Maybe not.

    Jim, another big fan of hunter orange for bird hunters.

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    I have a couple .22 pistols that will take the occasional bird while doing other activities now days and I bushwhacked plenty as a boy with both a pellet gun and a .22. Now days I am leaning toward the wing shooting, I bought a dog last year and am looking forward to letting him hunt em up for me. I just hope that my poor wingshooting skills don't disappoint the eager little guy too much...

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    Well I thank everyone for their comment. Never to fear, Sameyer, I'm an historian myself, and I've always felt the old ways were usually worth keeping. (My archery is always traditional-recurve with turkey feather fletching-and only one of my guns is less that 60 years old.)

    Speaking of which, Ray, I pulled the forearm off the Model 24, but I couldn't find any markings (of any kind, choke or otherwise), so now I don't what to think about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Speaking of which, Ray, I pulled the forearm off the Model 24, but I couldn't find any markings (of any kind, choke or otherwise), so now I don't what to think about it.
    By the end of the week I will pull one of the old guns out of the back row of the safe and break it down and let you know where to look. I remember it is not obvious.

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    http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot..._7950868_n.jpg

    The first photo is of the barrels without the fore arm lock system on them.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...&id=1001736647

    The second photo is with the fore arm lock system installed and you can see that the choke marks are covered up. there is no way to see them.

    This is a 20g Model 24. I have never looked up the year it was made. The barrel set is 26 inches long including the chamber block.

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