Ruffed Grouse hunting has been a long standing hunting and fall weather hike kick off tradition as long as we can remember. If you aren’t an archery buff, bear seeker or haven’t been chosen in the moose permit lottery, your hunting season begins on the fly.
The colors of fall begin to change the canopy of the woods and the ground begins to get covered in a mix of damp crispness that smells like middle earth. Walking the leaf covered side roads around Lake Parlin you discover easy outdoor hikes and a possible hide and seek sport of grouse hunting that sends your adrenaline pumping when you flush out the first bird of the season.
That’s enough for some, wearing the blaze orange vests and hats, connecting with the wildlife and beauty that surrounds you at every turn. For others, they load up their bird shot and the challenge begins.
Ruffed Grouse, also known to many as Partridge or forest chickens, are a great sporting bird to hunt and a challenge to do it well. Before the hunt it’s important to be able to distinguish between a ruffed grouse and a spruce grouse, which is a protected species of bird due to its friendly nature and its propensity to not take off in flight when flushed out. It’s more of the laid back kind of grouse that could in a survival situation be taken with a well aimed rock and is not a gaming bird.
Learning to spot the correct birds isn’t easy. They are usually fanned out in their distinct wooded camouflage plumage on a sunny embankment and you’ll more likely hear them before you see them scratching about looking for bugs and gravel under the dead fall and leaves. Once found, you don’t want to charge in and scare them or you’ll never get a good shot. Ideally, you want them to fly and have the skill to take them in the air, but initially you don’t want to riddle your prize with bird shot, so in the beginning or teaching young hunters you wait for a clear view from the wooded area and aim just above the body.
Small game and bird hunting give you a chance to learn the skills you will need for larger game if you are interested in growing in that area. If not, it’s a great way to spend time in the outdoors, alone or with friends and family. You’ll not only come back to the lodge or cabin with great stories from your day out, but hopefully with any luck, dinner!
Ruffed Grouse season opens October 1st – December 31st 2014. Come join us during this beautiful time of year and see if this just could be a new addition to the sameness of life you’ve been living and give it a shot!
All firearms hunting in Maine requires a license and required hunter firearm safety course, but if that’s not your thing you can always go along with the hunting party. Don’t forget to wear your hunter orange and bring along your camera and lunch just in case!