Pheasants get all the love when it comes to upland bird hunting but in Montana there is great grouse hunting in Montana throughout the state. The main four are the blue grouse, ruffed grouse, sage grouse and sharptail grouse. You can read more about the differences in the Fieldguide. There isn’t a lot of competition for grouse hunting unless they are mixed in with pheasants but they are very tasty and aren’t always the smartest birds because at least up in the mountains they are not hunted that much.
The sage grouse is prevalent in eastern Montana and live in the more flatland sage country. The male sage grouse puffs up during mating season to impress the females. Males can be pretty tall at 20 inches and weigh up to 2 pounds. Very prevalent east of the Continental Divide and for the most part it is an Eastern Montana bird. There are exceptions to this but not a great deal.
The blue grouse also known as the Dusky grouse is the largest of the grouse family in Montana. The male also puffs up and struts for the females during mating season. Adult males can be as tall as 22-23 inches and can weigh up to 3 pounds. The blue grouse can be found in forests and conifer stands. They are not very heavily hunted and if you are a hardy hunter with a good bird dog they are easy to hunt in good population areas. The problem is they are in more mountainous territory so you have to be willing to climb up and down elevations.
Ruffed grouse are smaller and mostly found in western Montana. Ruffed grouse are found in dense forests and cover often along stream bottoms. Adults might spend their entire lives in less than 2 miles so if you can find a pocket it is very likely you can hunt them year after year as long as you don’t over harvest.
Sharptail grouse are medium size and during certain times of the year can be confused with a female pheasant. They are more open field birds that can get into shrub and coulee cover. They prefer to be close to grain fields which is the reason behind they are mixed in with pheasants and are confused partners. This means that they are hunted simultaneously with pheasants some times. They primarily use native grass as cover so it is important to have that tall grass near grain for great populations to be present.
Grouse hunting in Montana gives you multiple and great opportunities to hunt birds and many times they offer low crowd levels. Most people don’t come to Montana to hunt grouse. They come to hunt big game or pheasants. This gives the grouse hunter with a good bird dog an opportunity for some really good hunting.
So if you want a good opportunity for grouse hunting in Montana would be one of the top states. If you want to read about all upland bird hunting in Montana try clicking on this link.