When deer seasons are over or winding down, for most of us this means it's time to turn to upland birds and small game to finish out the hunting agenda for the year.
It was one of those perfect upland hunting moments. The ruffed grouse flushed from the wild grapes with Callie, my English springer spaniel, snapping at its tail feathers. As those panicked wing beats broke the stillness of the afternoon, I planted my feet, shouldered my shotgun, and pulled the trigger just as the bird cleared the tangle. It was a smooth, instinctive motion and, at the shot, the grouse folded in a puff of feathers. Seconds later, the dog brought it to hand.
The ruffed grouse is without question one of the most challenging upland gamebirds to hunt. But one way you can improve your luck with this handsome brown and russet speedster is to avoid making mistakes.