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Thread: Size differences on Alaska Grouse and Ptarmigan

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    Default Size differences on Alaska Grouse and Ptarmigan

    So a couple weeks ago my son and I were out snowmachining and we came across some sharptailed grouse. My son shot one. It was the first one we have ever taken. There are not a lot around where we live. Anyhow, we noticed that it seemed significantly bigger than the usual grouse (ruffed and spruce) and ptarmigan (mostly willow) that we usually shoot close to home. We also noticed that the flavor was very good. One of the best we have ever eaten. My question is #1) is there a significant size difference between the different species. Does anyone have specific information about the sizes of the different birds. I can't seem to find too much information about it on the Fish and Game website. My other question is #2) is the meat always a higher quality or did we just get lucky and get a really nice bird? I am not an avid bird hunter. Most of my grouse and ptarmigan are taken incidentally while doing some other type of activity (big game hunting, trapping, rabbit hunting, fishing etc.) So please excuse my ignorance.

  2. #2
    Member ak_cowboy's Avatar
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    1) Yes, there is definitely a size difference in our upland birds.
    Ptarmigian are easy, it goes Willow are biggest, then Rocks (slightly smaller) and White-Tail (Tiny)
    Grouse are a little closer in size. The Blue Grouse in SE are very large. Spruce and Ruffed are about the same size. Sharps are somewhere in between, I think.

    2) I haven't had a Sharp-Tail myself, but across the board I've heard that Ruffed are the best. Spruce hens are good in the early fall, but quickly go down hill in the winter.

    Go out and get some more and we can make a more informed decision!


    Sidenote: At the annual forum meeting we should have everyone bring a little bit of different birds to do a side by side comparison!

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    I'm a huge grouse fan and love to eat all of them. That being said, I personally think that the sharptails are the best tasting by a significant margin, then the ruffies, then spruce grouse. I haven't had any of the SE blues, but the blues I've had in the lower 48 are very similar in taste and size to spruce grouse up here.

    As for size, I think sharptails are normally a bit bigger than spruce grouse, and nearly double the average ruffed grouse.
    I've only shot willow and rock ptarmigan so far and couldn't really tell a difference in the tastes.

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    Is there a site with pics of the different birds??

    EDIT - anyone on the peninsula interested in showing me the ropes for IDing and hunting them?

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    1. Step away from the internet.
    2. Buy a good bird book.
    3. Get a pair of decent binoculars.
    4. Go for a walk.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    1. Step away from the internet.
    2. Buy a good bird book.
    3. Get a pair of decent binoculars.
    4. Go for a walk.
    you live alone huh

    I'd like to have some human interaction in my life with someone who has the same interests as me. And if female it would be even nicer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chez View Post
    Is there a site with pics of the different birds??

    EDIT - anyone on the peninsula interested in showing me the ropes for IDing and hunting them?
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...mals.listbirds

    https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

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    Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    I did a side by side blind taste test of ruffed grouse and spruce grouse last fall. Cooked them exactly the same way. Coated with flour and spices and fried in olive oil. Could not tell them apart even though one was white meat and one was red meat. I was pretty surprise by the results.


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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chez View Post
    I'd like to have some human interaction in my life with someone who has the same interests as me. And if female it would be even nicer
    All the more reason to step away from the internet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ebbtide View Post
    I did a side by side blind taste test of ruffed grouse and spruce grouse last fall. Cooked them exactly the same way. Coated with flour and spices and fried in olive oil. Could not tell them apart even though one was white meat and one was red meat. I was pretty surprise by the results.
    I think Spruce Grouse is really tasty in the fall. Not so much in the winter/early spring after they've been eating lots of needles.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnycake View Post
    .... I haven't had any of the SE blues, but the blues I've had in the lower 48 ....
    I think ADF&G determined a few years back that the grouse in SE are "sooty" grouse. In fact they don't even list "blues" anymore. I asked that same question awhile back and looked this info up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    All the more reason to step away from the internet. .
    If I'm not at work I'm not on the internet and I work on weekends when most people are outside playing

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chez View Post
    If I'm not at work I'm not on the internet...
    Every manager's dream employee.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Every manager's dream employee.
    I know you wont understand but its part of my job and I am the manager

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chez View Post
    you live alone huh

    I'd like to have some human interaction in my life with someone who has the same interests as me. And if female it would be even nicer

    +ROFLMAO+ A great comeback to Tigger :-)
    That country was so hungry even the ravens were packin' a lunch.... HUNGRY I tell ya'!!

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    Bushwack Jack,

    The Alaska/Yukon sharp-tailed grouse is a slightly different species than their cousins living on the grassy plains to our south, and are the largest of all. I weigh most of the many sharptails I take, and around the last few days of September and on into October, they can easily reach the two -pound mark. And I think the meat of the sharptail is pretty much the same depending on what they have been eating to some degree. In fall they eat berries and greens, mostly kinnikinnick and blueberries. In winter they eat dwarf birch buds. I don't know where you live, but I'm guessing Mat/Su? If so, I find it interesting that sharptails are beginning to show up south of the Alaska Range. Of course, sharptails have been in Alaska for thousands of years, but they mostly inhabit the Interior region.

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    Used to get Blues in Wa. Heard they are about all gone these days. Ptarmigan taste like Ruff grouse to me. Spruce grouse taste like.....well....spruce.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Chez again."

    I love the delicious irony and total lack of self awareness that the internet provides from time to time. Seriously, when a guy who posts day and night almost everyday is telling a guy who rarely posts to "step away from the internet", you just can't make up that kind of comedic gold!
    "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle." - G.I. Joe

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patsfan54 View Post
    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Chez again."

    I love the delicious irony and total lack of self awareness that the internet provides from time to time. Seriously, when a guy who posts day and night almost everyday is telling a guy who rarely posts to "step away from the internet", you just can't make up that kind of comedic gold!
    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Patsfan54 again." Ha, look at that. I can't rep you again either.

    Yeah, the internet is cheap entertainment sometimes. But if you're living alone and looking for
    ...some human interaction in my life with someone who has the same interests as me. And if female it would be even nicer
    as Mr Chez says...well, stepping away from the computer, grabbing a bird book and heading outside is a better bet. You just might meet somebody.


    I find irony entertaining and interesting to contemplate. You?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnycake View Post
    I personally think that the sharptails are the best tasting by a significant margin, then the ruffies, then spruce grouse.
    I'd agree with this too a degree, not a significant margin though. I ended getting several spruce, a few ruffed, and 2 sharptails this last October.
    Red meat vs white meat. All cleaned and prepared the same, couldn't really tell a huge difference in flavor other then they were all friggin' GOOD!!
    But I typically hunt them in the fall, sometimes on up too the Christmas time frame before they get that "needle" taste..
    Can't say I've ever had a bad one with that system.
    Made grouse fajitas one night, they were without a doubt THE BEST fajitas we've ever had..
    The sharpies and ruffies were definitely bigger then the biggest of spruce grouse.
    I grew up in Oregon and as a kid we tore up those blue grouse down there. Those things were the size of a medium sized chicken sometimes, and good too eat as well.
    I be likin' me some grouse!!!

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    What about pheasants? Ever see them around?

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