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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Joel Schnell
Posted August 29, 2016.
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com