Friday, April 30, 2010


Here in western Maine, we have a variety of partridge known as the Ruffed Grouse.  They are the size of a small chicken, and have stunning plumage, which is not to say gaily colored--oh no--rather it is absolutely the best combination of tans, browns, grays and black bars, spots and mottling one could the point that a ruffed grouse on the forest floor is invisible unless it moves.  And, they, like yesterday's turkey hen, know that sitting tight is their best chance of avoiding detection.

So, it comes as a heart-stopping surprise when a grouse explodes off the ground within a few feet of you, usually just after you have passed it and are caught with one foot in the air, stepping over a blow-down or some such.  Years ago I hunted grouse....and never had much luck doing it, so I quit.  But, today, amazingly I put one up and it was about five yards from where the female turkey surprised us just the day before.  In typical ruffed grouse style, it thundered into the air, wings beating furiously and making enough noise to magnify the startle effect.  I can imitate this sound with my mouth, but I honestly don't think I can adequately describe it with words.....let's just say that using the term, "thundering" is not a real exaggeration.

It is notable that grouse are friendly little suckers and under the right circumstances, they will become quite tame and can then be hand fed, even become a bit of a nuisance around camp if you let them.  There is one that has taken up residence at a shooting range here in Maine, and all the shooters have a very protective attitude about him.  He's a plucky fellah and very likeable.

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