Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Grouse Camp

This year, I made the long drive up from Mississippi to Michigan to stay with my family over Christmas.  I also managed to head up into northern Michigan for a couple days of grouse hunting with my brother, David, and my friends Nick and Matt.  My hunting and shooting experience is quite limited.  I shoot clay pigeons every once in a while and can count the number of times I've gone grouse hunting on one hand.  Success has also been limited.  In fact, rather than saying I went up north to go grouse hunting, I sometimes prefer to say I went up north to "walk around the woods with a gun."

My buddy Nick invited us to stay at his family's deer camp, which is a primitive but well outfitted cabin in the north woods of Michigan.  I've stayed at "Deer Camp" quite a few times now, but its always been either "Trout Camp" or "Grouse Camp" for me.  Nick has been featured several times in this blog, as he is the one who had the bachelor party in Colorado and got me the fly reel cufflinks.

We got up to camp the morning after Christmas and immediately started hunting.  The morning was completely unsuccessful with no grouse flushed along along a pine and aspen ridge where we had flushed a lot of grouse on a previous trip.  Disappointed, we headed back to camp for a quick lunch and headed out again with Nick's dad as a guide.  He led us to an area that had been clear cut recently, which is ideal for shooting since there are no trees or branches to contend with.  Pretty quickly, a grouse flushed ahead of Nick and he shot but it was pretty far away.  Grouse often flush in groups, and sure enough, four or five more flushed in quick succession.  Amazingly, we didn't get any of them despite the fact that each of us shot at least once.  In our defense, they all flushed quite far away.

All the grouse had flown up a wooded hill, so we decided to see if we could find them again.  Grouse often land in trees so I had my eyes riveted upward.  Its not often that you see a grouse before it flushes, but if you do, it should be an easy shot.  I spotted an odd shape far up in a tree, and, never being one to shoot and ask questions later, I asked my buddy Matt if he thought it was a grouse.  I actually brought my gun up to point in the direction I was looking.  Of course, it was a grouse, and it cleverly flushed as soon as I brought my gun back down.  I didn't get it, and I was quite mad at myself for not shooting, but looking back, if I had shot an owl or something, I would have been devastated.

We didn't find any more of the grouse we had flushed, so we headed back down to the clear cut.  Pretty quickly, Matt flushed a grouse and shot it.  Matt is by far the best shot in the group so it was no coincidence.  We were all pretty stoked as I don't think any of us expected to actually shoot anything (this expectation was set by previous hunting expeditions).  With newfound enthusiasm, we marched through the rest of the clear cut and proceeded to flush zero grouse.  Then we headed back toward camp through a pine forest.  Shockingly, I spotted another grouse in a mid level tree branch.  A wispy pine tree stood between us.  This one was well within range, and I knew it was a grouse, but once again I hesitated, trying to maneuver around the pine tree.  It flushed and I never even got a shot.  Matt told me I should've just shot through the pine tree, as some of the pellets were bound to get through.

The mighty hunter

Ruffed Grouse
All in all, it was a huge success compared to past outings.  There is a surprising amount of meat in one grouse.  Here it is being cooked with fresh wintergreen leaves over a wood stove.

It was delicious.  After dinner, things got a little crazy.

But as they say, what happens at grouse camp stays at grouse camp...


  1. Next time I'm bringing buffalo wild wings sauce, those drumsticks needed a little extra kick!

  2. Grouse to me is a lot like quail, good to the last bite. A cold one would have gone good with that meal. Thanks for sharing

  3. Thanks Bill. And don't worry, we had plenty of cold ones ;)