Utah Wildlife Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I was born and raised in Utah, and I’ve been fishing my whole life. I’ve decided that I have been missing out on half of the fun by not hunting. This year I decided to try hunting some upland game. Since Ive never been hunted and don’t have any type of mentor, I’ve turned to the forums. That doesn’t mean I haven’t already put in some work.

I’m not looking for honey holes or even general spots. I’m just looking for some info on how to better identify grouse habitat, and how to more effectively hunt them. I want to find my hunting spots on my own, as I think it is part of the fun.

My first question is how far away from a water source do grouse usually hang out? Does it have to be right by water, or do they stray from water a bit?

Second question is if I don’t have a dog, what are some strategies to help find grouse? I would love a dog to hunt with, but I don’t have the time or resources to do that at this point in my life.

Lastly, I’m not sure if this is asking too much, but what elevation should I be looking at this time of year? At least general elevation. I’ve been out a couple times this year already and I did see a dusky grouse at about 4,500 ft, but couldn’t get a shot on it. Should a stick to this elevation, or was this lucky?

Thanks for any help. I really appreciate it! Also, if there is a better species to learn to hunt as a beginner, I am very open to suggestions. I’m just trying to have at least some success with upland game this year, even if that only means gaining knowledge. Thanks again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
430 Posts
Hey Crane,
Welcome. Grouse is a perfect start for someone getting into this.

Water is very important. If they’re not right near water there’s at least water somewhere in the drainage they’re in.

4500 ft. doesn’t seem right to me. I’m chasing duskies above 8500 ft. most of the time(not always though).

Learn what snow berries look like and pay attention to where you find them. Also when you do bag a bird, open it’s crop to see the other plant they live off of.

Without a dog TAKE YOUR TIME. Upland hunting with my dad as a kid he’d always tell me to stop and take a leak. Sometimes just hanging out for a minute a bird will get nervous enough to erupt from right under your nose. The way they survive is just by holding still and not being seen. You’ll walk past more birds than you know.

Good luck.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
11,312 Posts
I have found the vast majority of dusky and ruffle grouse by just driving forest service mountain roads early in the morning and later afternoons. But finding their food source is key. Chokcherries and other berries such as rosehip and others is key. But they will be in the middle of the road dusting themselves.

As for a dog, I have never hunted them with a dog and I am sure that I have walked past more than I have ever seen.

Sent from my SM-A426U using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey Crane,
Welcome. Grouse is a perfect start for someone getting into this.

Water is very important. If they’re not right near water there’s at least water somewhere in the drainage they’re in.

4500 ft. doesn’t seem right to me. I’m chasing duskies above 8500 ft. most of the time(not always though).

Learn what snow berries look like and pay attention to where you find them. Also when you do bag a bird, open it’s crop to see the other plant they live off of.

Without a dog TAKE YOUR TIME. Upland hunting with my dad as a kid he’d always tell me to stop and take a leak. Sometimes just hanging out for a minute a bird will get nervous enough to erupt from right under your nose. The way they survive is just by holding still and not being seen. You’ll walk past more birds than you know.

Good luck.
Thank you! I will keep at it. I went out again last night, but I think I was too low most of the time. I did find some berries and water, but I was even lower than 4,500 feet. I will head higher next time, at least to 8,500. Do ruffed grouse hang out lower? At least in the 4,500 foot range? I’m fairly confident that what I saw was a grouse, but I want to be sure. Looking at pictures, it definitely seems like a grouse, but I am new.

I will definitely keep my eyes out for snowberries. I haven’t seen them before, so it definitely looks like I need more time in the mountains.

When walking the area, I will also be sure to walk slower. I am sure that I’ve been walking too fast. I have to get used to doing more looking and less/slower walking. I’m sure that will be a tougher habit to break.

Thanks again for the help. You’re very kind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have found the vast majority of dusky and ruffle grouse by just driving forest service mountain roads early in the morning and later afternoons. But finding their food source is key. Chokcherries and other berries such as rosehip and others is key. But they will be in the middle of the road dusting themselves.

As for a dog, I have never hunted them with a dog and I am sure that I have walked past more than I have ever seen.

Sent from my SM-A426U using Tapatalk
I will keep an eye out for them and their food sources as I drive. It seems like driving and finding one might be a good indicator that there are probably some more nearby.

I am glad to see that you have had success without a dog. Being brand new to this and not having a dog or mentor has been intimidating, but I’m liking the challenge so far.

Thanks a bunch for your help!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
11,312 Posts
You'll find that the dusky like the pines and open sagebrush along the edge of the pines and that the ruffles like aspens and creek bottoms.

The last bunch of dusky that I got into were at 9,000 feet in the sagebrush. The nearest tree was 1/2 a mile away and water was over a mile away. There were 10+ in that bunch. A couple weeks later I found some singles while driving through some pines on a forest service rd.

Sent from my SM-A426U using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,686 Posts
It might help to narrow down your general hunting area. 4500' seems quite low for grouse. But maybe there are areas of Utah that low that hold them. Generally Ruffs like Aspen stands bordered by berries and other open areas that produce seeds and insects. They also have a nearby water source. Probably less than a half mile away. Dusky's or Blues are higher and favor pine stands with open areas to feed this time of year.
Most the grouse I've found were between 6500' and 9500' in Northern Utah.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You'll find that the dusky like the pines and open sagebrush along the edge of the pines and that the ruffles like aspens and creek bottoms.

The last bunch of dusky that I got into were at 9,000 feet in the sagebrush. The nearest tree was 1/2 a mile away and water was over a mile away. There were 10+ in that bunch. A couple weeks later I found some singles while driving through some pines on a forest service rd.

Sent from my SM-A426U using Tapatalk
I will keep it in mind. I was not expecting the sage brush at all, so that is good to know. It sounds like I need to get higher up and just learn the land a lot better. I’m loving the learning process as it is just an excuse to get out into the woods and learn new areas and gain new experiences.

I have recently been in some of the habitat that you are talking about, and I did see rose hips as a food source. I also saw raspberries. Are the raspberries commonly consumed by grouse? Or not so much? I also saw clusters of red berries on a vining type plant, but couldn’t identify them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It might help to narrow down your general hunting area. 4500' seems quite low for grouse. But maybe there are areas of Utah that low that hold them. Generally Ruffs like Aspen stands bordered by berries and other open areas that produce seeds and insects. They also have a nearby water source. Probably less than a half mile away. Dusky's or Blues are higher and favor pine stands with open areas to feed this time of year.
Most the grouse I've found were between 6500' and 9500' in Northern Utah.
I’m now thinking that my elevation count might have been off, at least where I think I saw a grouse. I’ll have to do some better looking. It at least fit the bill with pines, aspens, water, and rose hips.

Unfortunately that area is about 4 hours away from me. I’ll have to do some looking closer to home so I can get more familiar with the terrain nearby. I have some ideas on where to go, but I won’t be able to get out for about a month, then I’ll be able to get out multiple times per week. Does the info you’ve given me apply in mid October and on? I know duskys migrate up for winter. Does this apply to ruffed as well?

Thanks for all your help. All the info is greatly appreciated!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
In my experience with regards to water, ruffs will almost always be within a 1/4 mile or so of a water source and often closer. Dusky/blues don't rely on open water and can be nearly anywhere, I've shot them thousands of feet above and miles from the nearest open water source.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In my experience with regards to water, ruffs will almost always be within a 1/4 mile or so of a water source and often closer. Dusky/blues don't rely on open water and can be nearly anywhere, I've shot them thousands of feet above and miles from the nearest open water source.
Thanks for the info on water. That really helps. Does this make ruffed easier to learn in your opinion? Blues seem a bit more difficult to pattern.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
146 Posts
Grouse: We called them Fool Hens. They would sit there on a tree limb and you could ride your horse right up next to them and reach out a hand and grab them by the feet and wring their neck and have grouse for dinner. Every other bird I know would fly away from a human, but not a Fool Hen.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top