Stalking the Ruffed Grouse





If you want to see the birds, stalk them when you hear their call. Wait

until you locate the direction of the sound, then walk silently and

follow it. As soon as the birds are sighted slip from one tree to

another, stopping instantly when you think they may see you, until you

can conceal yourself behind a bush, tree, or stump near enough for you

to peer around and have a good view of your game. It may sometimes be

necessary to drop to your knees in order to keep out of sight. If you

have heard the drum it is the cock that you have stalked and, if early

in the season, you will soon see his demure little mate steal through

the underbrush to meet her lordly master as he stands proudly on an old

log awaiting her. The "whit-kwit" call may lead you to the hen grouse

with her brood of little chicks which are so much the color of the brown

leaves you will not see them until they move. If the call comes later in

the year you may come upon a flock of well-grown young birds who have

left their mother and are now following a leader.



The ruffed grouse is a beautiful bird. He is yellowish-brown or rusty,

splashed with black or dark brown, and white, with under-parts of a

light buff. His beak is short and on his small, dainty head he carries

his crest proudly. His shoulders bear epaulets of dark feathers, called

the ruff, and his fan-like tail is banded and cross-barred. The nest of

the grouse is on the ground, usually against a fallen log, at the foot

of a tree, or in a hollow made by the roots; or it may be hidden amid

underbrush. It is easily overlooked, being made of dry leaves with,

perhaps, some feathers. In the season it contains from eight to fourteen

eggs.





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