Hail To Thee Ole Michigan Grouse

Jeff HornHunting Stories & Adventures, Wild Game Recipes

For the seasoned upland bird hunter, “Ruffed” Grouse might be some of the finest table fare in its region.

By:  Jeff Horn.

The elusive one that causes the hunter to miss their shots, and say ugly words. The Historian and Geographer Herodotus called Egypt “Gift of the Nile”. Perhaps if old Herodotus had ever hunted grouse in the U. P. of Michigan he would have dubbed Michigan and the great lakes region “the gift of the grouse”.

In a Grouse season so dry, that even the grouse packed water, I found myself ready to call the DNR and ask, where have all the grouse gone? My hunting party didn’t find the grouse in the clear-cuts, and we had to move closer to water to have a sporting chance. It was there, along a sizeable pond, that I found the grand daddy of all grouse. Not only this grouse and one of his feathered friends, but evidence of Beavers. They had cut away at the aspen trees as far back as 100 to 150 feet from the pond. Some trees were cut and ready to fall, making the hunt one of caution for me and my hunting partner. Puffs of wind brought down one of the beaver booby traps, which caused me to wonder why we were hunting in the “widow maker forest!”? As Terence would say “Fortune favors the bold”!

Even in the conditions of the 2023 hunting season, I again found myself lost in the beauty of a U. P. Michigan Fall. With each burst of wind, leaves would glide to the forest floor, making a seen of wonder and sadness. Soon the snow will make changes to the landscape, and bring the swift urgency of NOW more into focus for the Michigan wildlife.

I found myself in the right place, right time. A time that had never happened before nor would it happen again. Grouse are one of the few creatures that can remain hidden until “showtime” takes place. Rattlesnakes are another, both with some of the same after effects. When a large grouse takes flight they create a kinda-of-vortex that catches up the leaves from the ground sending them into the air. Any limbs, with leaves, around move with the reverberation of the vortex caused from the thrust of the grouse wings. Not unlike the bit of the rattlesnake that catches one off guard causing a shock to the system; this sudden “grouse Vortex” delays any reasonable response which adds favor to the grouse’s excape. This opportunity won’t happen again for a thousand years! NOW is the time! Fortune favored me this time! As I lift him up to show, and exalt “Hail to thee ole Grouse”!

As Lao Tzu once said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. The journey to the big woods of Michigan to hunt grouse in the 2023 hunting season turned into miles. 1468 miles to be exact. Having the grand daddy of all grouse in my hunting vest is only part of the story. This Ole grouse was my only kill and the cost per ounce makes it the most expensive meat I have ever brought home. None-the-less, It became my Christmas gift to myself! I put Ole grouse into a crock pot for a few hours, then into an oven on broil, basting him with butter until lightly brown. I also prepared yellow squash, red potatoes, and cooked apples, along with gravy collected into an antique depression pink glass cup. The meal was as good as it looked! The gift of Michigan Grouse on Christmas just reminds me of the greatest gift to man. What a blessing!

Jeff Horn
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