High Mountain Dusky Grouse Hunting

High Mountain Dusky Grouse Hunting

Grouse season was a huge success in the Pike household this year. High mountain hunting for Blue Grouse (aka Dusky Grouse) is a family favorite. The upside of Dusky hunting is that they can be hunted on the expansive public lands in the western mountains. Not only are they fun to hunt, but they're great to eat. And the season typically starts in September so the weather is delightful. A great day in the field with the dogs usually results in success (as well as meat in the freezer). 

The downside? They are indeed located at high elevations. 

As with many species of game birds, locating them is the hardest part of the hunt. If you are able to find the right elevation and habitat to learn their patterns, you should be able to stack some Duskies for your freezer.

Blue Grouse tend to be located on south-facing ridges. They prefer conifer forests over aspen or cottonwood but they can be located in either. They can be anywhere between 6,000 - 13,000 feet in elevation depending on the time of year. They are lower earlier in the season and higher later in the season. They tend to favor steeper terrain as they will fly downhill when flushed. 

Steeper terrain allows the bird to land and hide in the higher branches faster to avoid becoming a meal for coyotes or humans. They tend to feed uphill in the morning, then work back down later in the day as they head to roost. Oddly, they migrate higher rather than lower when the snow and cold come calling.

They tend to like to feed out into meadows at the edges of conifer forests in the early morning hours. They will retreat back to the shadows of the forest after foraging for pine needles, juniper berries, snowberries, and insects.

Duskies are seriously the masters of camouflage. They easily blend into their surroundings and when in trees, they can be impossible to spot.

They tend to travel in broods, so if you have located one bird, there is most likely more in the vicinity. 

They can often be found on roads where they like to consume pebbles to help grind food in their gizzards. But don’t take that to mean you can simply road hunt for Dusky Grouse. You need to get out and hike.

I enjoy taking to old two-track roads that have been closed and are now overgrowing with vegetation.

In terms of gear necessary for grouse hunting, hunters have varying opinions. I typically use my Mossberg Silver Reserve 20 ga. I tend to lead more toward trap loads for these birds because the shots are typically not far and the lighter loads do less meat damage. I prefer to use a strap upland vest when I bird hunt. Of course, I favor the Prois vest for women. It is spacious and has plenty of compartments for ammo and water for the dogs. 

Grouse is indeed one of my favorite birds to eat. There is ample meat on the breast so one bird typically makes a meal for two in our house. I cook it in any recipe that would call for chicken or turkey.

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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