It’s no secret that below the near-north border of Ontario, grouse populations are not what they used to be. Whether it's the lack of forestry for new growth, a surge of predators such as coyotes and even house cats, or the encroaching human population, you'll find more meters or even kilometres between grouse sightings these days.
The case for heading north to find these delectable birds is easily fought, but here are some additional reasons and accessibility you should consider for your venture.
a healthy grouse population
Of course, the north still maintains a healthy population of grouse. Even though they have additional predators such as lynx and higher populations of wolves, the birds of the north have adapted and prevailed.
Hunting and fishing are never a sure thing, but opportunities are certainly more concentrated and higher in the northern area of Ontario.
guides for grouse
When you think of grouse hunting, you may not think about guided hunting but it's a great option. Outfitters can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want them to be. Bird guides still allow you to do DIY as well, they just point you in the right direction.
If you wanted to come home every day with your daily limit, you could do so with the advice of an outfitter or guide that knows the hot spots. Finding birds is half the fun, but if you were truly there to capitalize on bringing meat home to eat, a guide is your fastest, most efficient way.
Consider a housekeeping plan if you’re after affordability with your travels, that way you can bring your own meals, and hopefully supply some of your own while you’re there with your game.
With most housekeeping plans, and certainly American plans, you still have access to amenities such as boats while staying at an outfitter.
add Cast and Blast
Why not turn a couple of days into a four to five-day trip and add cast and blast to your itinerary. Surf and turf table-fare for when you return home. Not to mention a way to fill the mornings before your afternoon hunt with the soulful sounds of loons and your 9.9hp engine nudging your boat through glass calm water.
With the season being open as early as September 15th, there’s still plenty of fall days that are beautiful, sun-filled, and warm in the north. Don’t compromise between hunting and fishing. Get out before deer season, take full advantage of those sunny fall days to spend your mornings and evenings before and after your hunt in a peaceful setting.
take advantage of the Long Season
September 15 marks the opening of grouse in most of Ontario and the daily and possession limits remain largely the same for each as well. Running until December 31st, grouse is an incredibly long season.
You can take full advantage of this, especially if you are already at an outfitter for another fall hunt, if you’ve filled your tags you can switch gears to grouse and come home with even more wild game goodness.
In certain WMU’s of the north, grouse hunting is extended until March 31 of the following year. You’ll want to pay close attention to the regulations and make sure you are within the proper borders. An outfitter will be able to make quick work of understanding the regulations and borders for you.
A bowhunter can consider this a fun opportunity to exercise their longbow, recurve, or compound skills. Added chances and sightings take the edge off “needing to fill a limit” and add a certain level of fun into bird hunting.
If you’re happy with the number of birds you’re seeing after the first day, the next day may be a great time to get the bow out. An advantage to this is the quiet nature of archery. If you come across several birds you may have more chances before they flush—not that grouse flush for gunshots every time, but you certainly feel stealthier.
It’s also a great refresher before deer season opens on October 1, for most bowhunters.