Contributors to this thread:
For those of you heading out on your first northern Spring bear hunt be aware that Ruffed grouse are busy cruising for girls by sittting in a favorite spot and drumming - otherwise known as beating their chest. Locals in Saskatchewan refer to any species of grouse as chickens. Several years ago before cell phone coverage we used 2 way radios for communication but service was often iffy. One of my southern clients was having a terrible first day hunt and was pretty perturbed when I finally heard his call for help. “Rob you gotta come and get me outta here some jackass about 200 yards away has been trying to start his quad every 5 minutes for the past 2 hours!” I thought to myself “That’s impossible no one ever goes back in there!” Then it dawned on me. “Relax buddy it’s only a ruffed grouse looking for a girlfriend.” When I picked him up at dark he reported several bear sightings and had lotsa fun after he calmed down when I assured him no other hunters were horning in on his spot. He told me “I was getting so damn mad at this jackass trying to start a dead quad I just wanted to scream “ Hey Assclown! Choke the f%#£@ing thing!!” Pretty proud of myself for not titling this thread “Choking the chicken”.
Oh my, it’s bear time. Is the snow all gone?
Ha! Thread would have gotten clicked on by all the Bud Lite drinkers, probably ;-)
I think you feel their drumming almost as much as you hear it.
Now there's a thought with not having a big game tag this September - grouse hunting.
Think I'll actually do some this year for a change.
Hi Charlie; still some snow in the bush. 4 of 5 we checked today were hit for the first time yesterday. Last weekend a friend was panicking about slow bear action I told him they will start hitting about 3-4 days after the frogs start talking which was 4 days ago here.
Got this pic this afternoon.
Good photo! The one I snapped drums all night and a good part of the day about 25 yards from my bedroom window on a big fallen poplar log. As t-Roy said you can almost feel the drumming can’t imagine not having them around something just cheerful about that sound. Have 3 rivals competing within 100 yards of lodge every day they go hard.
When I first started out Turkey hunting and we had a grouse population in our area of Western New York I would hear that thumping noise and thought it was my farmer neighbor's compressor starting up in the barn... I mentioned it to him and he informed it was a grouse ritual... we both had a good laugh!
If you watch a video of a drumming grouse in slow motion it is pretty amazing. The wings compress the air in opposing directions to make the noise without actually hitting each other. I always liked the way they start slow and worn their way up to a blur.
Nothing much scarier than flushing a grouse walking in the dark... LOL
Them are tasty birds. I share with no one. Can't explain the taste as they have their own distinct flavor.
Ruffed Grouse dinner....
Ruffed Grouse dinner....
Love those grouse I grew up hunting them in NE Tennessee their numbers have plummeted used to have a bunch on our Cumberland Plateau property haven’t seen one here in years along with the quail very sad ?? Good luck Lewis
Good luck bud hope you have a great season... Wish I could swing it...
Hot dang I love chickens. I think my favourite hunting memory this past fall was the afternoon I spent with my daughter. She really enjoys it and we have a fire for dinner etc. Got to see a lynx from 5 yards that day was extra special.
I’ve heard the taste of a Spruce is, ah…. Memorable. But that review came from some folks who had collected a few deep in the winter for a study and they thought there was no sense letting them go to waste… I guess a steady diet of spruce buds leaves an aftertaste… The males sure are pretty, though. If I ever get one, I’ll likely get it mounted..
I love Ruffies, though…. I used to take off the 2nd week of October every year and go camp on the North Shore of Superior. Salmon in the rivers, grouse drumming in the woods, big-ass waves on the lake for the kayak and about a million miles of mtn-bikable trails with no bugs, no crowds, and the leaves at MAX bonito… If there’s anything unsatisfactory about a North Shore Surf & Turf dinner of grouse, salmon and biscuits in the dutch oven, I dunno what it is…
And those young-of-the-year birds that don’t know that it doesn’t work on the girls ’til spring sure are easy to eat….
I have often walked into a covey of quail, in the dark while heading to my trap line before it got light. Also a beaver slapping the water with it's tail when walking along a stream in the dark. A friend of mine was walking with me after dark to call foxes. We stepped into a cover of quail. He said do you want one. it had flown into his chest and he grabbed it. I asked him if it was a hen or rooster. He said it had a white head so I told him to pull it's head off and give it to me.
Spike tell me you did not season those birds ?
Until you know what it is it definitely sounds like someone trying to start an engine. Grouse are all but extinct near my now, I have not heard one drumming in 20 years.
That courting couple is pretty cool photo, grey phase cock bird and red phase hen... Here in my area of Ohio have never seen grey phase, but did shoot one years ago in Ashtabula County, but heck haven't even seen or heard a grouse drum around here in years, they're pretty scarce in my area now... Seemed when turkeys became abundant around here the grouse seemed to disappear... Now the wild turkey population is in decline and the grouse are gone...8^(((
Yeah, you can have a crapload of deer or you can have a thriving, stable ecosystem… but you can’t have bofum.
Hi Rob, Your story reminded me of the time years ago that I picked up one of my bear hunters and he told me a very similar thing = that he kept hearing someone trying to start an old tractor motor or an other old engine of some sort or other, LOL!
They party all night. Been a while. Like 20 yrs.
I am so envious Rob, would luv to see and hunt them again, they were a blast (pun intended) to hunt...
Z; I can hear 3 of them right now around our lodge. They drum about every 5 minutes. Can also hear them at every bear bait site. They are dumb as hammers here I shoot them with a slingshot in Fall.
They say one of the most important survival factors of a male grouse is it’s choice of drumming log. Easy targets for goss hawks if it doesn’t have the right overhead cover.
I used to hear them while hunting also. Haven't heard on in quite awhile now in Ohio or West Virginia. The sound they create is actually a small sonic boom.
I also miss hearing grouse drum in Ohio. I used to hunt them in Monroe and Meigs Counties. The last time I hunted them was 1998 in Meigs County. Also turkey hunted in Meigs County and that's where I would hear the drumming. Grouse are the original thunder chicken. Now people call turkeys thunder chickens, thanks to Michael Waddell I believe.
Rob Nye the "Ruffed Grouse guy"
Good stuff, thanks for the info!
Do they use the same drumming log year after year (if it remains) or do they drum from various different spots? Also, it’s the male that does all the drumming, correct?
Coincidently, a ruffed grouse has been drumming behind our house most of this morning. The snow is not all gone yet, but hearing that ruffed grouse assures me that true spring has arrived.
t-roy - only the males "drum", and I've often noticed drumming coming from the same spots every year - whether it's the same grouse and/or just an ideal location is debatable since the lifespan of a grouse is fairly short.
They often drum in the fall too, and if I happen to be hunting grouse, well...
There are more spruce grouse around here than ruffed grouse, but male spruce grouse have a different ritual for attracting a female. We also have sharptail grouse, and their "dancing" ritual is even more flamboyant.
Wisconsin uses drum counts in the spring to estimate the population changes in Ruffs.
That's great...gotta move to Wisconsin, lol
Hadn't realized other states had declining populations too... I wonder how the western ruffs are doing, there were gobs of them out there when I worked a season in 1978 for an outfitter in Montana's Bitterroot Valley...
They were kinda like the ones Rob mention in Canada, they called them Fools Hens out there... Actually the Spruce Grouse was the Fools Hen, but you could also get close enough to the Ruffs out there to kill them with rocks too... Same with the Blue Grouse, all three species seemed uneducated enough you could get close to all of them during the fall of the year.... I left after November, so don't know how spooky the survivors of the year got after that...
Agree, they are tasty and always wanted to go back with a dog and just hunt grouse, but unfortunately haven't made it yet... I retire in two days so it's on my bucket list...8^)))
Yeah the cockbirds do the drumming, and they will drum at all times of the year, kinda like a gobbler...
Had read they will use the same log, but also use other locations... Rob's photos seem to confirm the same log...
Back in the day when there were some around at this time of year certain wooded area dirt roads, you'd see maybe a half dozen cockbirds in full display in front of hens circling in the road... Whether because it was and opening in the woods they gathered there or served as kind of a lek like the prairie grouse do, I don't know, but am leaning towards a lek, but yet have never read that they form leks...
Something I haven’t experienced yet and think I need to.
Yah Nick, it's pretty neat. If you have a good log near your house try it and see how your wife responds.... er, did you mean...
I don't know that much about them but I know there are several different kinds that I run into. Some of them are white meat and excellent table fare but some aren't quite as good and are dark meat birds. Some are half as big as a nig chicken and some about a very large quail. I've eaten a few from several different states and enjoyed some greatly.
Just another note...some are wild as anything and would be hard to kill with a shotgun yet some I've killed quite a few of with rocks.