Where to hunt Hazel Grouse
Hazel grouse is a small shy forest bird that inhabits the forest belt of Europe and Asia. Unlike partridges or black grouse, the hazel grouse prefers dense unbroken woods, and doesn’t benefit from agriculture. That’s why, if you with to hunt it, you’ll have to travel to remote areas of Eurasia. Most hazel grouse hunting opportunities are to be found in Russia.
There are hardly any dedicated hazel grouse hunting trips. Usually hazel grouse hunting is included in a package deal together with other birds and animals as an extra, and these other birds and animals determine the price of the whole hunt. With accommodation, catering and travel to hazed grouse habitat, such trips usually go for $1,000 or so.
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Hazel grouse is often foreshadowed by its bigger and more impressive cousins, blackcock and capercaillie. To tell the truth, this is perfectly understandable. Capercaillie’s size alone is enough to distract attention away from all other grouse, to say nothing of its unusual mating behavior. Blackcock is not too far behind, as you’ll learn from our blog story.4 Jan 2018 The Quiet Call of the Biggest Grouse
When to hunt Hazel Grouse?
Hazel grouse hunting season may start in August and continue until late autumn or early winter, depending on the region. The best time for hazel grouse hunting, however, is determined by a curious trait of their biology – having a sort of a preliminary mating period in October, around the autumn equinox. This is the time when hazel grouse aficionados head into the woods.
Jagdart alle Jagdarten (11)
Like many smaller grouse, hazel grouse forms stable pairs for reproduction, with the cock vigorously defending the breeding territory from all other hazel grouse. This behavior in case of hazel grouse occurs both in the autumn, and in the spring. The most successful hazel grouse hunting strategy makes use of this behavior and is based on calling. Calling may imitate either a female in search of a pair, or a male that intruded into another male’s territory. Hazel grouse will usually walk rather than fly to the call, so the hunt somewhat resembles turkey hunting. Hazel grouse flashes like a rocket and is rather difficult to drop on the wing, so most local hunters take pot shots on the ground.
Why hunt Hazel Grouse?
In the old Russia hazel grouse was considered a delicacy, and thousands of them were shot and trapped for the market each year. These days are long gone, and if you want to check out if hazel grouse tastes as good as old books have it, you’ll have to try and do it yourself. This is often described as “a quiet hunt”. The hunter moves quietly along the woods, stops for a while and gives a call or two. The most successful hunters wait for a few minutes before trying to call, to make the denizens of the forest forget a human was ever there. It’s these moments of blending with the environment that give a true feeling of unity with the nature. Many Russian hunters carry their hazel grouse calls with them whenever they go into the woods in the autumn, and try to give a few calls when things go slow. A hazel grouse then will make a nice addition to the bag, and is a respectable trophy in spite of its humble appearance.
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