Our List of Tips For Grouse Hunting Without A Dog
Everyone that knows me knows that I’m a big advocate of pointing bird dogs when it comes to grouse hunting. It’s an easy thing to do if you own a bird dog or have a buddy you can borrow one from, but if you don’t have one your hunt can definitely get more challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. For that reason, we’ve put together a list of tips for grouse hunting without a dog.
One of the biggest disadvantages you’re going to face when grouse hunting without a dog is that the grouse are going to take off without warning. For this reason, you’re going to want to always be ready. When you’re in a good area for grouse be sure to have that gun ready. That means ideally having two hands on it, or at least in a position where you can get your gun to your shoulder quickly.
Ruffed grouse are fast enough as it is, so whatever you can do to improve your gun-to-shoulder time is going to dramatically increase your chances when you’re hunting without a dog. I even prefer a plastic “butt pad” on my shotgun instead of rubber simply because it doesn’t get snagged on my vest as easily. Sure it kicks more, but you won’t even notice when you’re watching that bird fold up and go down.
Walk Slow & Take Breaks
Ruffed grouse are skittish birds. On the right day, they get bumped typically fly pretty easily with the right technique. Many people hunting grouse without a dog think that they need to cover as much ground as possible, so they walk at a pretty quick pace. By doing so, they’re actually probably walking past quite a few birds.
One trick to grouse hunting without a dog is to walk nice and slow with some pauses every once in a while. Grouse will tend to let you walk by if you are walking quickly, but if you walk slow & pause somewhat near them they will think you’ve located them & take off. This is definitely the most effective method for locating and flushing grouse on your own.
Go To Where The Grouse Are
Seems like the most obvious of any possible ruffed grouse hunting tips right? You’d be surprised how many guys only hunt the cover that is easy or convenient to hunt. The most hunting pressure ruffed grouse see is along roads simply because a lot of hunters are too lazy to work their way through thick cover. They want that easy bird, but the reality is the easy birds don’t typically live long enough to get a chance at them.
My advice is to get off the road & locate some quality grouse habitat. You might end up missing more shots in these areas (if you manage to get a shot off at all) but you’re going to see far more birds & increase your chances of success.
Hunt During The Right Time of Day
This one could almost fall under the tip above about going to where the grouse are, but knowing what time of day to hunt certain areas can give you a big advantage as well. Do your homework beforehand to know what kind of habitat you have available in the area that you’re hunting in. Once you know this, you can pinpoint the best times of the day to grouse hunt for the areas you hunt in.