Why I Love Grouse: A Walk in the Vermont Woods

Written by: Scott McEnaney, Eastern Director of Endorsed Operations and Schools

Ruffed grouse always make me smile. Sometimes it’s when I have watched my spaniels change their behavior and get keyed up as they get a snoot full of scent and the bird flushes. Sometimes its when I get lucky and actually connect with one. Mostly, it’s when a grouse flies away from the pattern of my 20 bore and lives to see another day.

 


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Grouse Cover
Scott McEnaney

This past Saturday, a couple grouse made me smile for a completely different reason. I went out on one of my late winter snowshoe hikes. For me, these snowshoe romps are an excuse to get in the woods, a great opportunity to see where the turkeys may be in May and some hard exercise. After about a mile into the woods, I came upon a small clearing of no more than 4 acres. It looked as though it was cut about 5 years ago. There was a mix of white pine, sapling hardwoods and berry bushes. The entire piece was completely surrounded by hardwoods. As I walked by that piece, I thought: “that looks like a great place for a grouse to live.”

The dogs were not with me, so I just kept on walking. I walked for about two more miles through woods, which did not look like grouse woods at all. Appropriately, I never flushed one grouse.

Eventually, I made my way to the to the top of an area Mountain where I stood enjoying my surroundings before heading back down to the valley floor. Walking back a different way, I ended up back at that clearing again. As I approached it, a thunderous flush erupted as two grouse left the base of a small white pine.



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Grouse Cover
Scott McEnaney

I smiled as they flew away thinking those two grouse were good for the ego for proving me right about that cover. Generally, you can look at a likely covert and think a grouse would like that spot. Quite often, you’ll find one there. But their habitat is harder and harder to find in Southern Vermont. So, it’s good to know they’re there. No matter where you are. Pick the animal or bird you enjoy. Go for a walk. Find some habitat and when you come across them, make yourself smile.


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Grouse Cover
Scott McEnaney

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