Sporting Traditions: The King of the Uplands


Can you feel the seasons beginning to change? The dog days of summer are behind us, and it’s time to shift gears and start thinking about hunting. As outdoors enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to be stewards of the land, respect the game we chase and most importantly, pass on the sporting traditions we love to ensure the habitat and the sport is here for the next generation.

This is a big focus for all hunters, but especially runs deep in the upland hunting community – namely, those of grouse hunters.

Often referred to as the ‘King of Upland Birds,’ the ruffed grouse doesn’t tout this title by coincidence. They have a very clever way of making unbearably thick covers appear almost lifeless, and then making your heart jump into your throat with an explosion similar to the sound of a tiny Blackhawk taking off.

Ruffed grouse are aptly known not just for the ‘ruff’ around their neck and signature tail-fan, but because of the types of habitat they inhabit – think young, disturbed forest, typically requiring a high density of aspen trees.

Ruffed Grouse Hunting
Ruffed Grouse Society

The whole upland experience is really unlike any other type of hunting.

While successfully hunting ruffed grouse can be a challenge – and sometimes not completely feasible for younger or inexperienced hunters – it is without doubt a hunt that should be on every outdoorsperson’s bucket list.

You may find yourself completely consumed in an adventure encompassed with watching dogs work a fresh scent, carrying a new shotgun (or an old one if you’re nostalgic,) comradery with friends and hunting buddies – then, suddenly, the main reason of being afield – the bird.

Typically, grouse hunters tend to be rather secretive about the location of their favorite honey holes. However, there is also a very strong sense of brother/sisterhood when it comes to helping new or young hunters get started – and we must encourage these “newbies” to get involved AND stay involved.

So, if you’re new to/interested in grouse hunting, reach out and ask someone to ride along on their next hunt, or to a training day with the dogs.

If you’re already a grouse hunter, find someone new to take afield with you this fall. It’s OUR responsibility to pass along this heritage and rich sporting tradition.

The guys over at The Modern Wild say it best in their film, ‘To Tell a Story’:

The wild and its precious nuances have shaped us more than almost any other facet of life. Pass it on.

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