Mountain Grouse season begins in early September, and offers some very faced paced wing shooting action. For the upland game bird hunter that is familiar with hunting upland birds in rolling fields and dense brushy riverbanks, mountain grouse hunting takes place on steep hillsides, dense with pine trees. And, like any grouse hunt, when the covey breaks form their place in cover, the action is fast and furious. Many times, coveys of grouse that hold on step hillsides can pick up and set their wings down the steep slopes. Often, when a covey of grouse is found, a hunter can follow the covey for a mile before they ever get a shot. This is part of the fun of grouse hunting, although it is definitely not an event for a person not willing to do some serious hiking.
There are three main types of grouse found in the mountains of Montana: Ruffed Grouse, Dusky Grouse, and Spruce Grouse. Spruce Grouse are beautiful birds. The male Spruce Grouse is grey, and it can have white tips on its feathers. The female Spruce Grouse looks much like a sharptail, and it is tan and it can have white spots on the feathers. The Ruffed Grouse, famously conjures images of eastern forests covered in the yellows leaves of fall, side by side shotguns, and a graceful Irish or English setter. Ruffed Grouse, tan birds with beautiful fanned tails, do make home in the deep dense stands of timber in the west. The Dusky Grouse, also commonly referred to as Blue Grouse make their home on the mountainsides of the west. The dusky grouse can be found in high meadows at very high elevations. The Dusky Grouse will make its home on steep hillsides and soar down them when they are startled or challenged.
A dog can be a wonderful hunting tool and companion. And, like most types of upland bird hunting, each breed exhibits distinct characteristics in the way they hunt. Pointers, for instance, can cover a tremendous amount of ground and, when they do find a covey, will, hopefully, stop before they spook the covey, and set in to a point until the hunter can get within range of the birds. Spaniels and Retrievers do have a place in the grouse woods, and all of these dogs, as long as they are trained to hunt within range, will move birds and retrieve them with ease. Please note that dogs have been known to bring an angry bear back to their owners. Always be alert and prepared with bear spray when your dog is off leash in the wild.