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What is your favorite grouse load?


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Here in Massachusetts, I walk up Grouse, so they flush at my feet, always when you least expect it and in heavy cover. I use my short stock 20 guage Monty with 1 oz of 7+1/2 shot, Remington Express or Heavy Dove loads. Improved cylinder choke. Late in the season, I make my second follow-up shot 1 oz of number 6 shot and switch to a modified choke because the birds tend to flush early. I only carry 2 rounds in the Monty.

Last year, the first Grouse I shot at was at at the far end of a large quail area in a stand of young trees. I was shooting the cheap 7+1/2 shot Wally-World promo rounds (Winchester) as I was looking for Quail. When I entered the stand of trees on the opposite side and tried to re-flush the Grouse, the Grouse flew straight across a fire road directly in front of me. It was the first time in my life I had the magical open air shot at a Grouse. That 7/8 oz load and my I.C. choke sent the Grouse to the ground in a cloud of feathers.

Less than 5 minutes later as I was admiring my bird, another hunter showed up with a beautiful 28 guage double barrel shotgun and a small bird dog. He had been working the wood edge line one field over for Grouse when he heard my shot. He was carrying 7/8 oz of 7+1/2 shot and his double was bored I.C and Mod. (we compared shotguns).




Cape Cod

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Grouse hunting...now you're talkin'! In Minnesota it's ruffed grouse that's King. I like to load up with any 1 oz load (preferred to 7/8th's, but really they're OK too). The key is to use #8 early season for a filled-in pattern- up 'til late October, especially if you like to hunt woodcock as well. You will certainly have a chance to do that in MN in October, and mixed shooting in the young aspen tulies is the rule. If the aspen stands have dogwoods mixed in with some mint or clover ground cover you're golden.


The #8's really are preferable pattern-wise especially for woodcock, and I can honestly say I have shot hundreds of ruffed grouse and woodcock--over the last 38 years-- with 8's in the early season. Ruffs don't need a lot of killing, unlike a wild pheasant. SgtCathy is right on about late season birds busting out wild and a tighter choke and heavier shot really can help then, especially snow hunting.


The set-up you describe, heavy #6's with a modified choke, is the right ticket for sharptails. Early season where I hunt them out west, they are in the buffalo brush and you can get up on them for those 30-35 yard shots. But after about October 1st or so, forget that, they're wild- you will be getting longer range shooting if you can get up on them in the draws adjacent to wheat fields etc. That's where your tighter (mod) choke will work real well.


Don't forget too that all the Benellis, with the excellent modern ammo, and especially the cryo barrels, shoot real tight patterns. You'd be surprised how far you can clean fold a pheasant or a sharpie with even an IC choke.... Happy Hunting!

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