When high-country mule deer won’t cooperate and you just can’t seem to stalk into bow range, switch gears for a bit and you may find plenty of action hunting blue grouse. Last week I was in the midst of getting skunked by muleys on Colorado’s western slope when I spied a few of these tasty birds. It was mid-morning when most bucks were bedded anyway so I traded my broadhead for a rubber blunt and minutes later my Easton FMJ had dropped dinner.
If you’ve not yet bowhunted blue grouse, they can be challenging targets considering you typically find them in higher-elevation mountain regions. But if you’re already chasing high-country muleys in the aspens, hillsides and meadows at 8,500-plus feet, you’re already there! September is the perfect time to catch blue grouse on the ground as they chow down on insects, flowers and mast crops that haven’t yet been damaged by frost. Scout the edges of forests and you may catch them holding super still to try and blend in with their surroundings or hide underneath shrubs.
For some blue grouse trivia, this stocky, round-winged chicken-like bird is the third largest North American grouse species after the greater sage grouse (No. 1) and Gunnison sage grouse (No. 2). I’ll be on the lookout for a few more of them when I return to Colorado at month’s end to try and fill that muley tag!