Central Pennsylvania Grouse
From everything we experienced during this past grouse season while hunting, or from speaking with our dedicated grouse hunting customers, we believe the past grouse season was less than the almost 50 year average of 1.41 flushes per hour as previously surveyed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Regardless of my success, or lack of, I have been blessed to observe a grouse forage in the top of the same black cherry tree in late February for the last three years. The top of the tree broke several years ago in an ice storm, encouraging numerous secondary shoots that provide a great deal of late winter food.
This year a grouse was in that tree every morning on 4 out of 5 days, and on one day, the grouse remained there until at least one o’clock in the afternoon. Most mornings hovered around zero, or slightly below, and when the grouse wasn’t feeding, it would sit and fluff out to maximize heat retention. I could stand nearby and watch the grouse actively feed, but it did have an established comfort zone of about 8 yards. If I approached any closer, the grouse would flush, only to return the next morning.
On February 25th I spotted two grouse feeding in a small copse of trees, about 200 yards from my original grouse. The trees consisted of black cherry, black birch, poplars and soft maples and a mix of young white pines. The following day three grouse were in those trees – actually one tree – and I vowed to return with a camera.
On Friday, February 27th, I returned late in the day with my wife, Amy, and my son, Connor, to the area and was pleasantly surprised to see four grouse in one tree and one grouse on the ground directly below! Although I could not get all five grouse in the same frame, one shot revealed at least three grouse together. I apologize for the darkness of the photos, but it was late in the day and I did not use camera flash for fear of flushing the grouse. The winter had been a tough one, and those five grouse held the promise of spring and new life.
LCS Gun Room