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Thread: Rock Ptarmigan Quest 2012

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Default Rock Ptarmigan Quest 2012

    Going to start a new quest for a another bird this next week, Rock Ptarmigan. Got a good idea of where I am going and what to look for in the habitat. Just like the last bird quest I am seeking any advice from forum members??
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    Well, rock ptarmigan are easier to find in the snow months, beginning around early October, but look up high on area domes in rocky areas with blueberries around. Rock ptarmigan like blueberries. It won't be long till they turn white, so if you want fall colored birds you better get lucky quick. You'll be able to shoot a pile of them come winter.

    Good luck, sir!

    Jim

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Well, rock ptarmigan are easier to find in the snow months, beginning around early October, but look up high on area domes in rocky areas with blueberries around. Rock ptarmigan like blueberries. It won't be long till they turn white, so if you want fall colored birds you better get lucky quick. You'll be able to shoot a pile of them come winter.

    Good luck, sir!

    Jim
    Thanks again Jim. By the way I picked up the issue of Shooting Sportman for you article on Sharp Tails...good read and nice photos. Lots of other good articles in the magazine was a bonus.
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    Glad you liked it sir! I sure love doing all the research for the articles and such that I write.

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    Go high, of the three varieties of ptarmigan they live at the highest elevation, and as stated above, favor Tors. As for fall to winter plummage, the transition has begun.

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    Default Rock Ptarmigan Quest 2012

    I've always had the best luck finding them on windy exposed ridges and plateaus when caribou hunting with only a rifle in hand...

    Follow any ridge/plateau long enough and you should find one. Have to almost step on them to see them usually. Seems of all the ptarmies I find rocks solo the most.

    When in doubt, go up and brave the elements. I have found them often in nasty windy "inhospitable" terrain, happy as can be it would seem.

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    Well, actually, of the three types of ptarmigan, the white-tail lives up higher than the other two species. But Rock ptarmigan are indeed found in rocky places and not generally down among the willows until later in the winter when they mingle near willow ptarmigan. The more exposed rocky slopes near dwarf birch are good bets.

    As I offered on the sharptails...If you don't succeed I'll gladly help you achieve your goal, albeit, later in the season when the birds are white. I'm chasing grouse until the snow flies and then I leave them alone until the next year.

    Jim

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    Jim
    Which s hooting sportsman issue is your article in?

    Sorry to poach the thread ....

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    Burke, It's in the current (Sept) issue, the one with the sharptail in flight on the cover.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Well, actually, of the three types of ptarmigan, the white-tail lives up higher than the other two species. But Rock ptarmigan are indeed found in rocky places and not generally down among the willows until later in the winter when they mingle near willow ptarmigan. The more exposed rocky slopes near dwarf birch are good bets.

    As I offered on the sharptails...If you don't succeed I'll gladly help you achieve your goal, albeit, later in the season when the birds are white. I'm chasing grouse until the snow flies and then I leave them alone until the next year.

    Jim
    I find the statement regarding white-tailed, and ADFG agrees with you, interesting. In all my 25years of ptarmigan hunting from Cooper Landing to Anchorage to Valdez, the predominate variety that I encountered at the highest elevations has been rock ptarmigan, then WT then willow in descending order/elev. with WT found in all three zones to some degree.

    I do not ever recall encountering rock mixed with willow at the lower elevations or vice-versa at higher elev. Always when there was "mixing" it involved WT with one or the other. Perhaps it was just my luck, or more represenative of the locations I frequented. Whatever the reasons I sure enjoy hunting and eating those birds, they are outstanding table fare, IMO.

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    .338 mag,

    During winter, in places like one you mentioned - Thompson Pass - you can find each type of ptarmigan if lucky.

    Here in the interior region it's common to find rocks and willows admixed just because of how the habitat is.

    And I agree with you about ptarmigan tasting pretty good. My wife makes a stir fry to die for!

    Best of luck out there!

    Jim

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    Default Rock Ptarmigan Quest 2012

    Do you think rocks tend to be more solitary or small groups, or is that observed trend just a result of my somewhat limited field observations?

    Willows and whitetails I've typically found in groups of say 6-10, rocks most always seem to be singles and doubles.

    Have seen the "herds" of willows a few times but never in the mat-su.

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    Andweav,

    Interesting question, and something to ponder. But I find rocks here in the interior in coveys all through the winter. Now, in the spring I'll find small male bachelor groups of 1 or 2, up to 4 or 5 on breeding grounds waiting around for the hens to arrive. And when the hens do arrive they are part of fairly large groups of birds, maybe as many as twenty or more with some of those groups being young male birds in with the hens.

    I remain the student and this is something I'll be watching in the future.

    Jim

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    I always found much smaller numbers of white-tailed and rocks when compared to willow, groups of 4 to 10 or solitary birds, rarely did I encounter fewer than 6 to 10 willow at a time, often groups would be 20 to 50+. My guess is that there are greater populations of willow ptarmigan in general due to less harsh living conditions, as well as more readily available food sources.

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    I really need to get this quest started...probably should have started last weekend.

    Weather permitting might have to try this next week out one of the summit areas to the north.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediMasterSalmonSlayer View Post
    Weather permitting might have to try this next week out one of the summit areas to the north.
    After all that walking for sharptails, rocks will be a piece of cake for you... especially while the snow isn't very deep.
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    Yes JMSS! The force is STRONG in you. Your quest successful it will be.... I too will be probing the highlands. Rock on!

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    Have you found any rock ptarmigan yet? I found lots of rocks, but only a few ptarmigan..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoytguy View Post
    Have you found any rock ptarmigan yet? I found lots of rocks, but only a few ptarmigan..
    I have not seen any species of ptarmingan yet, however I have seen some rocks. One was'nt a rock...its was a rock lob-ster.

    Got to make the time I guess to get out, the ice is waiting for me too.
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  20. #20
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    Looks like cold weather for the next several days. At least you're an ice fisherman so you've got another option when it's too cold for birds.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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