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  • Future Alaskan, Small game questions

    Hello,

    I am moving to Fairbanks after I ETS for the Army around Aug 2017 and attending UAF that fall. Me and my wife are avid upland game bird hunters from the Pacific Northwest and love taking out our German shorthair out hunting Grouse, Quail, Dove and Pheasant. How is the upland bird hunting in the Fairbanks area? How do German Shorthair Pointers do in the extreme cold? I'm currently stationed at Ft. Hood Texas and he does great for Doves during very hot days but not so well on cold days. I used to hunt Grouse in Oregon all the time and we shot them off the gravel roads, but I am not sure if upland bird hunting is similar in Alaska. I would love any tips and peoples 2 cents. I am also highly interested in Hare hunting and big game hunting. I own one 20GA, one 12GA, one .22, One 35 Whelen, One .44 Mag and my wife is deciding on either a 30-06 or 300 Win Mag at the moment. I would like any other opinions on firearms I should consider.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum- small game hunting in the Interior is good to very good. We don't have anything quite like dove or pheasant hunting but we do have three species of grouse in the Interior as well as three species of ptarmigan and hares. A 20 gauge is fine for everything upland but you'll want a 12 gauge for waterfowl if you decide to duck hunt (you should).

    Your list of weapons is just fine for about anything you need one for and an '06 or .300 is just fine as well. Shooting here might be a bit longer than you're used to.

    Every dog is different, but my Lab is good to go until about -10F...after that he's ready to call it a day pretty fast.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    • #3
      That sounds perfect! I'm used to hunting ruffled grouse and blue grouse and I'm assuming its similar hunting except ptarmigan hunting. I have a feeling my German Shorthair will be alright till around 10 or 0 degrees before he will quit out on me. I want to join the Fairbanks retriever association and get him trained up a bit more. He listens to everything and even comes to me when I pat my leg with my hand, but he can't see very far due to being born with a eye problem. He usually has no problem smelling birds and using his smell to retrieve but seeing birds further than 20 feet is a no go. I've noticed that people use .22 and 17HMR for birds and I have never heard of that before. I would like to try it out because I was only legally allowed to shoot upland game with shotguns. I was also wondering if there was a ruffed grouse/upland bird association or anything in that nature in the Fairbanks area?

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      • #4
        I'm not sure about Fairbanks- but Anchorage has a ruffed grouse society. There are a number of upland enthusiasts in the area so finding some field trials folks or similar will be easy to find.

        It took me a bit to get used to potting birds with a .22LR...it works well for supplying camp meat during moose or caribou season. I've got to admit I love eating ruffed grouse so much I'll shoot them (and have) with almost anything- .22, shotgun, archery, rifle, air gun...doesn't matter. For upland hunting- I much prefer the shotgun. We don't have much in the way of "true" upland wing shooting but flushing and banging sharp tails on the wing is just pure awesome. Ptarmigan get reluctant to flush, but they are also fun to wingshoot.
        "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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        • #5
          Growing up in Michigan I hunted birds with my family's Brittany spaniel. It was as you'd expect, the dog would point, I'd signal for it to flush, the bird would take off and the 20ga would go bang bang bang(usually)...

          Living here, my hunting method has changed from using dogs to walking trails, catching them on the ground or up on tree branches and popping them with my 17hmr in the neck/head region. No waste of meat and another form of hunting fun.

          Last year I had a few too many in the freezer so I let em live if I missed the 1st shot. I very much enjoyed that as well.

          So when you read people shooting them with rimfires, that's what they mean.
          I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2K7sV-K74

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          • #6
            Originally posted by lancep51 View Post
            Hello,

            I am moving to Fairbanks after I ETS for the Army around Aug 2017 and attending UAF that fall. Me and my wife are avid upland game bird hunters from the Pacific Northwest and love taking out our German shorthair out hunting Grouse, Quail, Dove and Pheasant. How is the upland bird hunting in the Fairbanks area? How do German Shorthair Pointers do in the extreme cold? I'm currently stationed at Ft. Hood Texas and he does great for Doves during very hot days but not so well on cold days. I used to hunt Grouse in Oregon all the time and we shot them off the gravel roads, but I am not sure if upland bird hunting is similar in Alaska. I would love any tips and peoples 2 cents. I am also highly interested in Hare hunting and big game hunting. I own one 20GA, one 12GA, one .22, One 35 Whelen, One .44 Mag and my wife is deciding on either a 30-06 or 300 Win Mag at the moment. I would like any other opinions on firearms I should consider.
            I had an English Shorthair for 15 years here in Southcentral. She was a great Alaskan dog that did surprisingly well in crappy weather conditions. Your German Shorthair will do fine chasing grouse, hare, and ptarmigan.
            Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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            • #7
              Originally posted by lancep51 View Post
              I've noticed that people use .22 and 17HMR for birds and I have never heard of that before. I would like to try it out because I was only legally allowed to shoot upland game with shotguns.
              I moved up here a little over a year ago and .22LR has become my preferred way of hunting game birds. I shoot them in the head/neck and get perfect, restaurant-quality birds with no broken bones to poke holes in my vacuum bags.

              I don't know if I'm doing it "right" or not, but I have finally started having some success finding ptarmigan by crushing a lot of miles and a lot of elevation. Given the number of calories per bird I'm burning, I don't like to take chances on wing shooting them; chances that I'll miss, cripple a bird and not recover it, down a bird and lose a lot of elevation in the process, down a bird in an area that's dangerous to recover it, etc. It also helps that my .22 and ammo is significantly lighter and easier to haul up a mountain than my 20 gauge.

              Your experience hunting with a dog in the Fairbanks area will probably be quite a bit different than mine. I haven't made it that far from Anchorage yet.

              Congrats on your pending departure from the Great Place. Best of luck to you in school!

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              • #8
                lancep51,

                Thanks for your service to America. And you will quickly determine how the upland hunting here in the interior region is superb, some of the best in the country. Your 12 gauge shotgun is fine, but you'll do best with light one ounce loads. Nothing more than that is needed. Your GSP is going to be very happy. I run a crew of Brittanys and have been for decades. You might check out the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game web site, especially their wildlife notebook series. And you can purchase a copy of my book, Upland Hunting in Alaska, right here on this site so they make a little bit of cash for providing this venue. The snowshoe hare are very much on the rise, as are ruffed grouse. Life is good!

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                • #9
                  My 20ga double is a Full choke/modified and I was wondering if the full choke is too much? I have tons and tons of 7 1/2 shot that I need to use up plus a few 6's I used to use for Blue grouse and Pheasant so I'm good in that area. What 22. loads do I use for birds and hares? I was thinking that I can use 22. shorts or longs in my Marlin 22.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lancep51 View Post
                    My 20ga double is a Full choke/modified and I was wondering if the full choke is too much? I have tons and tons of 7 1/2 shot that I need to use up plus a few 6's I used to use for Blue grouse and Pheasant so I'm good in that area. What 22. loads do I use for birds and hares? I was thinking that I can use 22. shorts or longs in my Marlin 22.
                    I own a couple Marlin .22 LR for grouse/hare hunting. My favorite is my Marlin 60ss .22 LR. I mostly shoot CCI standard or high velocity LR for grouse. As mentioned, I mostly shoot for the base of the neck with zero meat damage.
                    Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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                    • #11
                      I cannot wait to try it out. It sounds like lots of fun and I love eating grouse. Does ptarmigan taste like grouse? Is there a Tularemia problems with the Hares in Alaska?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lancep51 View Post
                        I cannot wait to try it out. It sounds like lots of fun and I love eating grouse. Does ptarmigan taste like grouse? Is there a Tularemia problems with the Hares in Alaska?
                        Ptarmigan are somewhat similar in flavor to spruce grouse, though both have much darker meat than ruffed grouse.

                        As for tularemia, the general rule of thumb with hares is to only hunt them in months with an R (September-April). They're mostly a winter target when parasites aren't an issue.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brian M View Post
                          Ptarmigan are somewhat similar in flavor to spruce grouse, though both have much darker meat than ruffed grouse.

                          As for tularemia, the general rule of thumb with hares is to only hunt them in months with an R (September-April). They're mostly a winter target when parasites aren't an issue.
                          As Brian mentioned, ruffed grouse have white meat like chicken. Personally, ruffed grouse tastes even better than chicken. It's one of the finest meals to be had with feathers. :topjob:
                          Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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                          • #14
                            Having grown up in Maine I've eaten a ton of ruffed grouse (spruce grouse are illegal to kill there) and find it's hard to beat. I will say some of the best bird I have had up here was ptarmigan that had been eating blueberries all fall. Man, that meat fried up in a pan with butter, salt, and pepper is killer. I thought is tasted more like venison than anything else.

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                            • #15
                              Yes ruffled grouse are so good especially cooked on the BBQ or smoked. When I was stationed at FT.Hood TX I use to go bobwhite quail hunting on the ranges on base, and limit out. Some of the old cowboy types showed me how to smoke quail by wrapping the breast around a jalapeno and then wrapping the whole thing in bacon. After that it gets put in the smoker, also don't forget the BBQ sauce brushed on lightly over time but not too much. I tried it with ruffled grouse when I was in Oregon and it was even better. I've fried grouse and quail and grilled them which good success. My grandmother used to bake it with butter and herbs which was good, but could be better. No matter what she believe I am still best cook in the family lol. How do you guys cook it?

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