Around here we have ruff grouse, but I have now found exactly two blues on the same small knob at an elevation of 3600', which is the top elevation locally. There are many other mountains at that elevation but I've never found blues on another mountaintop. I notice while the ruffs were eating berries the blues were eating fir or spruce needles and one particular type of leafy plant. I understood needles are the winter time staple, but figured blues would be eating berries like the ruffs while they're available.
To nail down the best habitat for blues, does anyone have insight that might help me? Thanks one and all.
_______________________________________________________ An 8 dollar driveway boy living in a T-111 shack
Looks like you must be in the NE somewhere. I lived in Valsetz for a few year's and and used to find a few blues up there but not a lot. I always figured the Blue Mts should have some. Used to find them way up high outside Kalispell, Mont. Ruff's down low and blue's real high.Was talkig to a guy lives southwest of Baker a ways and he told me he find's lots of blues around there. Would love to get into grouse again but physically just can't do it anymore, knees are shot! I do make a short trip every year up toward Mt Hood but never found one up there!
Blue grouse, particularly the males, are commonly found on treed ridgetops in the fall, as these are often also their springtime breeding territories where they hoot and attract mates. Here in MT I often find them at ~5000 feet, with some of the best morning hunts found on east and south-facing slopes where the bird forage for chilled hoppers at first light. Treeless twenty-year old burns tend to support the grass and shrub that grasshoppers prefer, so this is where the Blues are. Later in the day they birds will move to treed areas nearby and shift their feeding to berries, ground-strewn fir seeds, and needles (fir and larch).
I grew up hunting blues in CO. I looked for creek bottoms and then hit the side hills along the creeks. Shot and ate hundreds of them in my life.
Hw do you like to cook them? Here's the one I got the other day.
We breasted them out and cut the breast meat into nuggets and fried them. The rest of the carcass (wings, legs, back, neck) went into a crockpot and cooked on slow until the meat was falling off the bones. Pick the meat off the bones and add some onion, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, taters and a can of cream of mushroom soup, put it in a casserole dish, cover with breadcrumbs and a little parm cheese and bake until bubbly and golden brown. Takes about 3 carcasses to get a decent sized casserole but it is worth saving them for.
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Coat the breast in flour then brown them, Take cream of mushroom soup mixed with milk enough cans to cover the breast then add one packet of Lipton onion soup mix. Put it all in a slow cooker on low for about five or six hours and eat over rice.
I actually find that they move uphill as the season progresses. Spend the winter hunkered in the snow, eating pine needles (at which point, you don't want to eat them!). The crops of the couple I've gotten so far this year had wildly different contents. We hunt them up to 11,000 ft. IMHO, you don't need to overcook them or mask their flavor. I find them delicious prepared simply. Don't know if Hank Shaw gets much love here, but he should. Good hunting!
Been known to get a blue or two….. I’ll echo the sentiment to get to higher elevation and in my experience, find a nice rocky ridge line interspersed with needle bearing trees. This time of year they really like the mountain ash, snowberry and serviceberry. They’ll also eat a lot of hoppers (especially the young ones) and dandelions. If you’ve got a good dog, that’s a big part of hunting them. If they don’t bomb off the ridge to the next county they usually will jump into the nearest tree. So the dog work makes it worth it, even if you have to sluice one off a branch.
haven't been up high for the blues,(now known to the IDFG as Dusky's) but have done well down at 2500' on the Ruffs. they are eating leaves off the wild roses and the hips right now. this is half the limit i got Friday. 1859 11 gauge percussion with 7 1/2 shot.
Last edited by deerstalker; 09/24/23.
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Here in Montana the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department's regulations still call them blue grouse. They also call spruce grouse "Franklin's," the subspecies found here and a few surrounding places. Along with ruffed grouse, they're grouped as "mountain grouse," which are legal to hunt with rifles and handguns, unlike other Montana upland birds--except for turkeys in the fall season. I have also hunted blue/dusky/sooty grouse in Idaho and British Columbia.
Their tendency to head upward during fall has long been noted by biologists. Have killed them along the same lower-land Montana streams that hold ruffed grouse in September--and on top of elk mountains in November. (Have also found sharptails in similar conifer habitat, but mostly further east in Montana, in breaks along the Missouri and its tributaries.)
Fail to see how anybody could call the bird in the OP's photo a sharptail. Have hunted sharptails in Montana (once took 66 legally one fall--we ate a LOT), along with Alberta, both Dakotas and Nebraska. While they vary a little from region to region, I have yet to see one that had a dark, blunt-tipped tail.
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