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Thread: Grouse in strange places

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    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    Default Grouse in strange places

    Today I found a few ruffies in an area that seemed too swampy to be a consistent covert, but I don't have enough experience with them to say for sure. I was walking an ATV trail to get to an area that was a south facing slope of a hill with mixed birch and spruce with a little alder mixed in for cover. That's what I think of as a good place to find ruffed grouse. But, as I was walking the trail it was passing through a creek bottom that was pretty swampy and I left the ATV trail to find a dry path. The area had older birch and lots of spruce, tons of blown down trees, but the vast majority of the area was flooded. It didn't really feel right, but I flushed three seperate birds in that mess. Do I need to adjust my way of thinking or should this be attributed to the brood break up and I just found some juvenile birds looking for their own space.

    Tyler

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I think it is aspen that I usually find them in. They seem to eat the heck out of the seed buds from them. Perhaps there was some sort of berry near the water that drew them in. Hopefully Jim will pipe up because if anyone knows he does! So did you get any?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    So did you get any?

    Yep, I did alright with the one shot opportunity I had. The other two did a better job of keeping something between us. The area was so thick I couldn't mark them down and continue pursuit.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I know I can't wait to get back and start working with my dog. That should help tracking them down when they hole up in the thick stuff. It sure is hard to get them in a spot where you can swing a shotgun. I have had a few times when I was swinging with a bird only to have my barrel hit a branch. Congrats on the bird! There is no better eating game bird in AK!!

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    Tyler,

    Congratulations! I love hunting ruffed grouse. Haven't taken a lot of them yet this year, been hitting the sharptails real hard. My dogs have had a true blast since late August and my freezer is already full of grouse.

    You may be right about the birds you found. Did they appear to be young birds-of-the-year? Likely they were siblings. What was in their crops?

    You know, as the cycle changes (although there may not be a real cycle in the Mat/Su area?) and there are more ruffs around, and certainly during the "fall shuffle" birds will be found in the strangest of places.

    Been seeing a number of ruffs along the highways here in the interior and I believe we are climbing back slowly on cycle curve. The next several years should be good, to real good, and then fantastic!

    Just got home. Cleaned another five birds. Tired. Boots off beer open.

    Jim

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    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    The crop of the one I did take was completely empty...but there were plenty of cranberries in the area. I don't know that I can tell the difference between immature and mature ruffies, I'm happy enough to be able to tell the difference on a straight away flush.

    Speaking of sharptails, a coworker was telling me about his moose hunt in the Rex Creek area east of Anderson. He was hunting near a large burn and said the area was crawling with sharptails. He was about 10 miles back in on the Trail. If I were closer I'd check it out, but thought I'd share the intel any way.

    Tyler

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    Quote Originally Posted by TMCKEE View Post
    I'm happy enough to be able to tell the difference on a straight away flush.
    The difference between ruffed and spruce that is...

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    Cranberries are the #1 autumn food of choice for a ruffed grouse. As to those sharptails your buddy saw...I discovered that secret many years ago, but that's a long and arduous trip to find them and not bother the whordes of moose hunters while doing it. I found a better deal. But you can find sharptails in many or even all of the burn areas spread across the interior region. They start using the areas about 2 or three years after the fire is over. Tough hunting with the lumber lying about. A good place for a high school football coach to run his players around.

    Jim

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    Cranberries are the #1 autumn food of choice for a ruffed grouse. As to those sharptails your buddy saw...I discovered that secret many years ago, but that's a long and arduous trip to find them and not bother the whordes of moose hunters while doing it. I found a better deal. But you can find sharptails in many or even all of the burn areas spread across the interior region. They start using the areas about 2 or three years after the fire is over. Tough hunting with the lumber lying about. A good place for a high school football coach to run his players around.

    Jim

    PS.

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    Cranberries are the #1 autumn food of choice for a ruffed grouse. As to those sharptails your buddy saw...I discovered that secret many years ago, but that's a long and arduous trip to find them and not bother the whordes of moose hunters while doing it. I found a better deal. But you can find sharptails in many or even all of the burn areas spread across the interior region. They start using the areas about 2 or three years after the fire is over. Tough hunting with the lumber lying about. A good place for a high school football coach to run his players around.

    Jim

    PS. Hen ruffed grouse will raise their broods in and around alder runs along boggy areas and the birds you found may have just remained in the brood raising area. Hard to say.

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