Quilcene’s Ward Norden shot this blue grouse near Bon Jon Pass in Olympic National Forest on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, while coming up empty in an attempt to get above the smoke enveloping Western Washington.                                Quilcene’s Ward Norden shot this blue grouse near Bon Jon Pass in Olympic National Forest on Sunday while coming up empty in an attempt to get above the smoke enveloping Western Washington.

Quilcene’s Ward Norden shot this blue grouse near Bon Jon Pass in Olympic National Forest on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, while coming up empty in an attempt to get above the smoke enveloping Western Washington. Quilcene’s Ward Norden shot this blue grouse near Bon Jon Pass in Olympic National Forest on Sunday while coming up empty in an attempt to get above the smoke enveloping Western Washington.

OUTDOORS: Grouse hunting an upland bird option

Season opened Sept. 1

FOREST GROUSE HUNTING season opened Sept. 1 statewide and will continue through Dec. 31. Forest grouse is a catch-all term for the blue, ruffed and spruce species, all of which can be found on the North Olympic Peninsula in good numbers.

Grouse hunting is a popular activity out on the West End, but also can be accomplished on the eastern edge of the Olympic Peninsula.

Quilcene’s Ward Norden made the shot count Sunday when he bagged a blue grouse high up the eastern slopes.

“We drove up to Bon Jon Pass [Sunday] and took the road over the next saddle at 4,000 feet to see if we could get out of the smoke,” Norden wrote in an email. “Nope. The smoke extended [at least] all the way up to Mount Townsend at 6,000 feet since we couldn’t see it.

“I took my Contender 45/410 pistol as always, in case dinner presented itself. Near the second summit a huge blue grouse stood in the side of the road next to the cliff blocking our way. Thinking about my broken hip, I figured I better make the shot count.”

Norden explained a Contender is a single-shot, long-barrel hunting pistol that uses interchangeable barrels.

“This particular barrel shoots either .410 shotgun shells or the old .45 Colt cartridge.

“It is often my dinner maker,” Norden said.

“It was an old bird, so a little tough, but mighty tasty stuffed with slices of our Asian pears overlayed with bacon for baking. This one bird was plenty for both of us.”

In the fall, grouse hunters also can search for chanterelle or lobster mushrooms to add to the dinner pot.

WDFW collects wings, tails

Hunter-harvested wings and tails from forest grouse species are sought for research by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Wings and tails can tell biologists the species, age and sex of each animal.

The goal of this collection effort is to evaluate trends in harvest composition that can inform population management.

The data is combined with other factors such as wildfire and weather patterns and is critical for monitoring trends and informing management of grouse populations.

There are three wing barrel locations in Clallam County where hunters can donate wings and tail sections. Hunters are asked to use the paper bags provided at each barrel site and write down the species of grouse, the game management unit in which it was harvested and the date and county of harvest.

Clallam County barrel locations are: Junction of Slab Camp Road and Lost Mountain Road near Sequim; Junction of Cooper Ranch Road and U.S. Forest Service Road No. 29 near the Camp Creek Trailhead west of Lake Crescent and the Junction of Salmon Creek Road (National Forest Road No. 2850) with National Forest Road 2906 (GPS coordinates are 47.98172, -122.97698.)

Wings and tail sections also can be dropped off day of harvest at district or regional offices, or frozen and dropped off at a different time.

A summary of upland game bird hunting seasons, which also include pheasant, quail, partridge and chukar species, is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-UplandBirds20.

With the wildfire threat faced by our state, hunters and those recreating in forested timberlands should check Fish and Wildlife’s wildfire information page before heading out.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].

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