Late Season Ruffed Grouse
Though hunting season is coming to an end, the fallen leaves in early December can make spotting Ruffed Grouse a breeze; arguably it can be some of the best hunting of the season. Though primarily Ruffed Grouse are ground-dwelling birds, they are skilled at flying short distances and well adapted to mid-flight twists and turns to help them navigate amidst the thick forest growth. Look for them in deciduous forests, with a rich undertow of shrubs, that act as both shelter and food source for the birds. Common food sources are the buds and leaves of poplars, birch and alder as well as coniferous needles and insects. Ideally, the area should have adjacent growths of cedar, fir or spruce - these surrounding areas act as a shelter from predators or harsh weather conditions that the grouse will flush to if threatened. Work small patches of the dense cover, ideally with a dog or partner. If you've got your dog, give him his head and follow his scent. In a two-man team, work small patches of dense undergrowth with one partner in the heart of the area, the other one around the perimeter ready to shot the grouse that flush. Late season grouse tend to short-flush to the nearby spruce trees and take refuge on mid-level branches, so keep this in mind when selecting perimeters.