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Grousing Around Elliot Lake

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Grousing Around Elliot Lake

Peter Wood bags that grouse along an old bush road North of Elliot Lake. • Credit: Peter Wood

Peter Wood lands Grouse in Ontario's Algoma Country



Ontario encourages everyone to travel safely during this time and to follow public health guidelines. It is important to practice physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and the wearing of a non-medical face covering where required or where physical distancing is a challenge.

As we rounded a curve on Highway 546, a flock of surprised spruce grouse flushed from the road’s edge. Encountering grouse along the highway was seen as a pretty good indication of the great hunting we would experience on this crisp September morning. Ten minutes up the road we unloaded our ATVs to begin a day of grousing on less-traveled trails.

Marty Descoteaux, good friend, expert guide and owner of Elliot Lake Outfitting had invited me to enjoy a few days of hunting Elliot Lake’s extensive 300-kilometre ATV trail system. It was a grouse hunting opportunity I couldn’t resist.

Marty, his son, Adrian, and I layered up in our orange hunting attire and rode abandoned mining roads and forest trails in search of areas where grouse might be feeding. The season had just opened and there were plenty of singles and pairs of birds along the trail’s edge.

Riding slowly in single file, we peered into thickets for any movement. As birds were spotted or flushed we would park the ATVs and stalk them through the cover. Often we would park and proceed 100 metres on foot before reaching promising territory, with Marty identifying prime areas along the trails where thick growths of popular, birch and hawthorn grew close to creek bottoms

Marty Descoteaux and his son Adrian cross a creek by ATV while grouse hunting north of the northern Ontario town of Elliot Lake. (Photo credit: Pete Wood)

We took turns shooting single grouse encountered along the trail. Typically, the lead rider would stop, hop off their ATV and load their shotgun. Usually a single shot would ring out before the bird could make a break for cover. If a grouse reached the bush, a slight movement on a tree branch often gave it away.

By late morning we had flushed numerous birds and bagged six. A day of traveling dirt trails and old mine roads opened my eyes to the rugged scenery and the vast number of lakes and rivers around Elliot Lake. Next time, I’ll pack a fishing rod along with the shotgun.

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