Hunting grouse without a gun dog is a challenge. Okay, it’s just plain tough. There is a way to turn the tables on these delicious game birds who hide with pride in dense forests. You can call them. You read right, it’s not a misprint.
Male grouse do something special when they want to declare their territory to other males or attract females. They stand atop dead-fall logs and “drum.” This isn’t similar to turkey drumming, however. Tom turkeys will stomp their feet as they parade with feathers fluffed and wings held out. When ruffed grouse drum, they beat their wings against their chests. It’s quite a display. They puff their neck feathers, hence the name “ruffed” grouse, stand as tall as possible, and flap away.
When you hunt them, you can imitate the noise. Just slap your open palm against either your chest or leg. You’ll have to learn the cadence, though. FYI, according to Cornell University researchers, ruffed grouse vary their cadences quite often, so you’ll want to change it up if you get into a drum “conversation” with one. It’s similar to elk calling.
Here’s a video with a ruffed grouse drum solo. Pay attention to how the drum starts and builds to a crescendo. Once you’ve mastered the technique, just listen close for drums when you walk through the forest. Then drum a reply. If the bird picks up the challenge, you can plan a stalk because he will stay put on “his” log to claim territory. As you move in on him, keep an eye open for any hens the male, or you, may have called in–they’re yummy, too.
You’ll want to turn up the volume for best results when you watch this video.
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