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Ruffed Grouse Shooting 
                       V. C. ALLEN 
ST'S WITH       a certain feeling of 
   pleasure that I take over this new 
   gunning department created for the 
continued interest of GAME Breeder 
&   Sportsman   readers.   And, in- 
cidentally, my contributions must be 
timely and topical along with other 
phases of the sport. The Editor-in- 
Chief says: "Above all, V. C., inter- 
esting to the modern shooter going 
shooting today!" WVell, that means 
timely and topical in any language. 
Now to live up to it! 
  The Ruffed grouse should interest 
a lot of shooters today. There's a bird 
for you, and it takes a darn good shot 
to score consistently against him. We 
find him in the most difficult places 
among   the alder thickets, to  say 
nothing of second-growth brush, the 
leafy tangle of which makes perfect 
cover for this brown drummer. And 
the way he can put trees between him- 
self and man with a gun is history. 
  When our woods were thicker and 
modern shotguns had not arrived the 
grouse was less wary; they would 
roost in trees offering easy shots with 
a rifle. Prior to this the Indian hunted 
grouse with a club or blunt arrow. 
But let the hunter approach that close 
today-whir-r-r, and he is gone like a 
  The Ruffed grouse now has a bag 
of tricks to prove he has evolved con- 
siderably from  his old name "fool 
hen."   Perhaps you have seen him 
running along through the brush with 
great speed. He is a first-class skulker 
and hider-outer and has been known 
to adopt Brother 'Possum's strategy 
very successfully, his favorite imper- 
sonation being that of an old stick, a 
role which he assumes by standing up- 
right and very still.  Sometimes he 
will stand this way until the hunter 
has gone by then flush with that ex- 
citing whirr so dear to the grouser. 
  Grouse are fond     of buckwheat, 
beechnuts, grapes and apples. Hence, 
it is well to search out localities where 
the above are plentiful. Also, look 
for him in the swamps and along 
fences lined with brush.    He feeds 
twice a day, early in the morning and 
at late evening. During midday his re- 
treat is usually a hideout under the 
thick  evergreen not far from     the 
vicinity of his feeding ground. This 
i, the most difficult time to hunt him. 
  A fault with many grouse hunters 
is, that tendency to shoot too quickly. 
This does not mean that one can be 
slow in throwing the gun to shooting 
position, but applies to the actual pull 
of the trigger. Of course, there are 
times when snap shooting is absolutely 
necessary with small regard for aim. 
However, the successful gu nn er 
usually finds time for a squint along 
the barrel together with the speed re- 
quired for coming into position. 
  I am of the opinion that if more 
hunters would really abide by their de- 
cision to carry out their shooting ac- 
cording to plan they would bag more 
birds in the long run. For instance, 
there is the tendency to undershoot a 
rising bird, an error very easily under- 
stood. We must remember that a bird 
going away is usually rising fast par- 
ticularly a grouse, and to put shot into 
him we must aim slightly above him 
so that he rises into the pattern. One 
should  train oneself to   bring the 
muzzle of the gun up to the bird-- 
never down on him. 
  Occasionally we are told that we 
cannot lead a crossing bird too much, 
especially a fast flier. But this has 
proved a fallacy in many cases. Ex- 
-,erts point out to us that successful 
leading may be accomplished first by 
sighting on the bird, then, with a quick 
movement as the trigger is pulled, 
snapping the gun ahead.     However, 
they also point out that some shooters 
are faster than others and that most 
men   with  a  gun  do many things 
peculiar to the individual. Speed but 
no control can so easily apply to snap 
shooting when    the shooter has no 
definite plan to go by, such as timing 
the trigger with the swing of the gun. 
Also, tardiness of trigger    pull is 
seldom  conducive to perfect aiming 
coordination.  It would seem   if one 
could strike a happy medium the great- 
est difficulty is overcome. 
   Possibly the best advice to give a 
beginner at grouse shooting-that is, 
advice that will not confuse-would 
be to tell him to shoot a little high 
and from 1 to 3 feet in advance of a 
crossing bird.  I am  inclined to use 
the bird as a definite starting point or 
target on which to concentrate before 
leading rather than to follow him from 
behind in a long swing.     In other 
words, put your gun on the bird and 
then lead. 
  Ruffed grouse rarely ascend more 
than thirty feet from the ground and 
seldom deviate from a line parallel 
thereto. At times, though, they will 
flush from the top limbs of trees in a 
swamp and this presents about the 
most difficult of shots.  In this in- 
stance, their flight being downward 
one must shoot under and quickly. 
  The choice of gun for grousing I 
shall leave  up   to  the  individual, 
whether it be a 12-gauge, 16- or 20- 
gauge.   It  is  advisable, however, 
to select one from 6 to 6Y2 pounds 
with  fairly open  barrels, inasmuch 
as a   light, open  gun  has proved 
most satisfactory to the majority of 
gunners.   As I have stated     in  a 
previous article the popularity of short 
barrels for this work, such as 26- and 
28-inch, is well-known   in  gunning 
circles.  For  quick  shooting  these 
lengths are ideal. 
  A boring of right barrel improved 
  This department invites the discussion of 
anything pertaining to sportsman's firearms 
and ammunition. Questions will be an- 
swered promptly by mail when accompan- 
ied by stamped, addressed envelope. We 
welcome the opinions of our readers re- 
garding the good and bad qualities of the 
arms which they have used afield.