Alder and the Ruffed Grouse

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Hunting | No Comments
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Alder shrub

Where I find Alder, I find ruffed grouse and woodcock. It’s just that simple. Also known as tag alder, Speckled Alder (Alnus incana ssp.rugosa) often rings wetlands and shallow ponds. Grouse love ’em, and I am always on the lookout for them during woodcock season too.

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Alder creek

Shrubbery Like Few Others

At up to 20 feet tall, it’s good sized for a shrub. It stabilizes soils in wet environments, and can form a dense woody community. They are one of the first to flower in the spring.

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Catkins or flowers

When You Need to Call a Shrubber

When alder reaches around 15 years old, the branches will spread and grow horizontally. Winter is a good time to cut alder of this age, which will regenerate from the roots. A friend of mine uses cut alder for smoking fish.

 

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Thickness

Hunting the Alder Trail

One of my most productive trails links several alder swamps spaced about a quarter mile apart. It zigzags past them, and I often take a detour to circle the swamp. When the dog bell goes silent, get ready for action.

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Secret weapon for grouse in the alders

Alder strategy

Alder often grows into a dense, thick curtain, perfect for shielding a ruffed grouse from a load of #8 shot. Birds flushed on the edge of an alder shrub swamp have an annoying habit of flushing directly into, then over, the thicket for escape. I try to walk the edge of the alder, with an approach to flush birds away from the thickness. Good luck with that, I know. Ever the eternal optimists, grouse hunters always hope for a shot at our escape artists.

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Late season alders

By Joel Schnell

Posted August 29, 2016.

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Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com

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