Just unleash the hounds! and start hiking. I’ve had good luck driving to high east-west ridges and hunting them down toward water, usually a stream or creek, sometimes a river. I’ll work the forest/meadow edges early when dusky grouse are on the ground foraging for cold grasshoppers as well as berries. I’ve found in their crops snowberries, mountain ash berries, clover, hawthorn berries, and rose hips. Anytime you start seeing berries, expect grouse. When I tire of searching for duskies, I’ll break over the top to zig zag down the north-facing slope, which is usually cooler and wetter, and work this down toward the bottom where there is likely water — and ruffed grouse.
This may sound lame, but one of the most productive tactics for finding birds is driving Forest Service roads and trails. It’s simply the most efficient way to cover lots of territory until you stumble onto some birds. Locals have traditionally potted birds right from the road, but if you’re interested in a real hunt, back off, loose the dogs, and hunt ‘em up.
Two or three hunters should be more successful than one because they can cover two or more sides of the tree. Forest grouse are pros at putting limbs and branches between themselves and a charge of shot. If your pointing dog indicates a bird is there, by that tree or bush, look the scene over and approach from what could be the blind side if you followed the dog’s nose. Pup should keep the bird from flying its direction, so you just need to cover the other.
Shooting Forest Grouse Well
How to Hunt Western Forest Grouse for Free! — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Ron Spomer for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com