There are photos kicking about of me when I was 3-4 years old, holding grouse. I think there was talk of this hunt the first week my first daughter was born – an excited grandpa eager to get little ones out hunting again. As she grew up, she increasingly wanted to leave with me when I set out moose hunting. This year was her inaugural hunting trip. It was a lucky one, with a lengthy black bear adventure, mule deer, white tailed deer, a weasel, and lots and lots of grouse. We came home with our possession limit of 15 ruffed grouse. Interestingly, not a single spruce grouse – all ruffed. Don’t remember it rolling that way when I was a kid.
An artsy diary-esque episode this one is. A point of interest for me is that it shows how to break a grouse down with your hands into the breast on breastbone with the necessary wing attached to be able to legally transport the bird – preserves identity of species – and also shows a grouse being plucked. Grouse skin is super fragile, tearing easily relative to waterfowl, say. Whenever I skin a bird though I have Hank Shaw in the back of my head, he having spent ample time a number of years ago pre-him-being-a-rock-star prodding me in the comments on this very site. Skin-on wasn’t a revelation like I had expected. Seemed to deliver more value on the waterfowl front, for me. More research required.
Such ominous music. Do you know if the mushrooms were edible? Do you scald the grouse like you do for chickens to facilitate getting the feathers out?
PS. The cooked meat looked like chicken breast. Does it tast like that?
Great episode. Reminds me of the fall hunts for grouse back in Northern Maine when I was a kid. To clean them, we’d step on the wings and pull the feet. Ever try it?
Gorgeous, gorgeous video, shades of my childhood! We always left the skin on, my dad claimed the trick is to pluck as soon as they are shot, the warmer the skin is the easier the quills come out. Someone would literally be plucking at the same time the next grouse was being hunted. May or may not be true, but I was able to aptly pluck and clean a grouse with intact skin at 10/11 years old, so there might just be something to it!
I seriously salivate thinking of these. I can do without waterfowl, (bah, all that buckshot) however grouse taken with a .22 so you don’t ruin that big breast meat….drool.
Judy – the Shaggy Mane [small one] was enjoyed with our grouse dinner in camp. No need to scald – actually not too bad to pluck. It looks a lot like chicken, but has a more evergreen and sour flavor profile – often still mild. Also a little more fibrous than chicken, as they actually get to walk and fly…
Mike – I grew up cleaning them that way too!!
Karlynn – thanks. You. A grouse plucker. You’re welcome here any time. ;)
Ha! You saw the word “was” applied to my skills, right? Rusty as an old tin can, I am.
I find the flavours really even out with a bit of hanging, otherwise grouse is good but not super tasty. Beautiful birds though aren’t they?
Man I love grouse. My earliest hunting memories were grouse hunting and it’s always been a favorite. Love the meat, love the hunt, love the easy step on the wings pull the feet method of getting the breast out. Can’t wait to take my kids out.
Every year there is a ruffed grouse that sets itself up in our slough, fifty paces from the kitchen door. And then the bird makes the fifty paces back to the kitchen for a quick look in the National Geographic Bird Book. The kids like todetermine male or female and species. And then onto goodness! This year, brined and roasted skin on, with backyard apples. Nothing but the bone was left. Roasted, skin on, was fab. And plucking wasn’t too tedious either, mind you the hot water bath helped. That and the October sun on a Sat morning with company of canine pals waiting their treats (head and feet, won’t touch the innards…)