By time most of you read this, the final day of Wyoming sage grouse season will either be underway or a fond collection of mental notes recording a wonderful series of days involving many a stroll across broad and lonely sage covered prairie landscapes.
A number of people lamented difficulty in located these massive wandering grouse, while others relayed accounts of large coveys. One thing is for sure, the WYG&F wing collection barrels held a lot of wings in some areas. The truth is that the birds were very localized this year. As usual, locations with a bumper crop of grasshoppers produce impressive broods. Get a mile or two away from the hopper zones and the pickin' was mighty slim. Worthy of note, the place my recently departed friend Jimmy was most fond of during his life, was absolutely amazing during the past two weeks; yes there were a lot of hoppers.
The only exception to this rule was near Mom's house where grasshoppers have taken over the mountainside but birds were scarce. The chukars, huns, and sage hens took a terrible beating when three hail storms did their worst during the hatch.
Pursuing this sultan of the sage is vastly different than hunting grouse of the forests and woodlots. Hunting sharptails bears some similarity in that birds may hold or flush vexingly wild then fly 100 yards... or three miles. However, sage grouse are different from that well known bird as well.
There is a bold tenacity about them that not only carries a flavor of the old west and eras long past, but that speaks volumes about their tenacity as they carve out an existence in a dry, unyielding environment. That alone makes them worthy of respect and admiration we carry for them. Rains come and rains go and with them the populations follow in times of plenty and otherwise, much like other species.
For decades kids in Wyoming have earned their wing shooting credentials and learned a lot about wild things, wild places, and outdoorsmanship in general thanks to sage grouse. I am one of those kids. As such, the bird is deeply rooted in my heart and shall remain so long after my abilities to hunt them have dulled and faded with the inevitabilities of life's progression. Without further delay, I share with you the sage grouse experience:
Joined: 26 Sep 2015
Location: Fremont County, Wyoming
Thanks, Garhardt for the great pics. They are truly representative of the wide open country in which we live and recreate.
I had only two days to hunt sage grouse this year but did manage to kill three birds. My wife and daughters, knowing my liking of single shots, bought me a Henry 12 gauge last year. On opening day, two birds fell to that weapon.
Last January, my older brother died unexpectedly, and my sister, who was the executor of his estate, honored me with the gift of his Winchester 24 double in 20 gauge, which I know has a dubious reputation here and elsewhere, but will none-the-less always have a special place in my heart. On the second day of season, I managed to kill one bird with that shotgun.
It all depends on how they are prepared. When fried, the taste can be a little strong, typical of dark meat birds. Some people love them fried and some don't. When grilled over a flame, especially a wood fire, they can be very good eating. That tends to be my experience with birds anyway; dark meat is great on the grille, white meat is great in the pan.
_________________ Only catch snowflakes on your tongue AFTER the birds fly south for the winter...
Joined: 17 Mar 2017
Location: Endless Mountains of Pa
Great on the Grill and very good in the slow cooker, with goodies also! if you have never had Sage Grouse cooked in the slow cooker with potatoes, Onions and some Baby Carrots give it a try, use at least 2 Sage Grouse Breasts, fall off the Grouse Breast good eating.
L.C. Smith Man
Last edited by Pine Creek/Dave on Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:15 pm; edited 1 time in total _________________ "L.C. Smith America's Best" - John Houchins
Joined: 26 Sep 2015
Location: Fremont County, Wyoming
I recently wrapped up the pieces of one grouse along with cut up potatoes, onions, and mushrooms and a little olive oil in aluminum foil with all the appropriate spices and tossed it on the BBQ (not gas), turning occasionally until done.
Not for everyone, but perfect for those of us who like a little wild flavor in our foods.
I know folks who aren't fond of eating Sharptail and Sage Bombers.
One nice way to prepare these birds for those people:
Slice meat into strips. Saute with garlic infused olive oil, desired amount of Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning, sliced red pepper and red onions, lime juice, coarse black pepper, and a dollop of your favorite salsa in the saute.
Serve Sizzling as fajitas.
I do this with those dry old Montana Merriams turkey breast/legs also......
Thanks for bringing back the sage grouse memories. Those big bombers and Mearnes quail down on the Arizona/Mexican border are two hunts I have to do at least one more time before father time takes my legs. That Wyoming sage brush country is beautiful to look at, but I need to smell the desert on a cool fall morning to really experience it. You sure can put on some miles chasing those suckers, but it is satisfying even seeing a large flock of sage grouse that flushed out of range disappearing over the distant ridge. Love it.
_________________ An elderly gentleman, his faithful dogs, and a 16 ga SXS. All is right with the world.
Nice photos of the sage grouse hunt! I did my first hunt for them last week, only a couple of hours, but we found one group and I managed a double on them (they are big!) with my Montana gun, an Ithaca 37 with poly choke and some RST No. 6 shells.
The landscape looked just like your photos, in fact, and these were the first sage grouse I'd ever seen. Not too common on the east coast where we spend most of the time gunning for sea ducks.
Sharptails were pretty thin on the ground in our usual places, and a cold front with a bit of snow turned us not unwillingly to ducks by Sunday. And there were ducks!
_________________ AKA Cedar Creek Sam
"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country." Theodore Roosevelt
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