Hazel grouse is noticeably smaller than a black grouse, about the size of a daw or slightly larger. Its weight ranges from 330 to 580 g. In general appearance it is similar to other grouse, but its metatarsus is only three quarters of its length and fingers are bare. Living in the forest, the hazel grouse spends most of the time on the ground. He runs fast, cleverly climbs up fallen trees, stumps and freely makes his way through heaps of fallen trees. Scared hazel grouse always rises to a tree and hides. It takes off with great noise, but then flies soundlessly, usually holding at a height of half a tree. The flight of the hazel grouse in the forest is extremely maneuverable; it cleverly maneuvers among the numerous branches of trees. Hazel grouse never sits on tops of trees and even during feeding is usually located in the middle parts of the crown. Walks along horizontal branches nimbly, while bending the front of the body and stretching the tail. During feeding, often sits on thin branches, abundantly hung with earrings, and freely and deftly sways on them. The general color of the plumage of the hazel grouse is gray with transverse dark streaks. The male is characterized by a black spot on his throat and a well-defined crest. Differences in the color of the plumage in male and female are insignificant.
Grouse is a resident of forests, mainly of the taiga type. The root habitat of the hazel grouse is the plain spruce or spruce-larch taiga, from where it penetrates the river valleys into the mountains to the very top of the forest. Grouse especially likes to settle in dark coniferous forests with an admixture of small-leaved species – birch, alder, willow, aspen, as well as in ravine places covered with mixed spruce-deciduous forest. Humidity, clutter, undergrowth and grass cover, as well as the presence of berry-beds positively affect its abundance.
Grouse is one of the most numerous and widespread representatives of the upland game. He has excellent meat, very white, tender.
Hunting for hazel grouse with dogs is much more difficult than for capercaillie, black grouse and other game birds. The fact is that the grouse broods and especially single birds very poorly stand the stand of the dog and do not tolerate barking them on the tree from the husky side.
Nevertheless, it is sometimes possible in the mornings and evenings, while feeding the hazel grouse, to approach the shot with a gundog and make a successful doublet over the grouse brood that came up with a characteristic noise. At the very beginning of the hunting season, while young hazel grouses have not yet matured, early in the morning sometimes it is possible to find a feeding brood in relatively open places. Young birds scattered in search of food, when the hunter approaches the dog, hides, maintain their stance and take off one by one. In this case, raising one hazel grouse after another, you can successfully shoot them as well as young black grouse. Such hunting for hazel grouse can be quite successfully applied to young broods of hazel grouse using well-trained and disciplined spaniels.
Hunting for hazel grouse with a husky can be used only on condition of special preparation for this hunt of a seasoned and not hot dog. Having picked up the hazel grouse and planted it on the tree, the husky should return to the hunter with a “report” and lead him to the planted bird, or, having planted the hazel grouse on the tree, do not bark it, let alone rush onto the tree and not scratch the bark, but without reaching a little to a grouse sitting on a knot, lie down on the ground and let the hunter know with a slight screech. The hunter cautiously goes to the dog’s voice and in the direction of his gaze he looks out for the hidden grouse and shoots him. Young, hot huskies, as well as pointing dogs, are not suitable for hunting grouse.
Hunt for decoy. This common method of hunting grouse is used mainly in September and October. The success of the hunt almost entirely depends on the ability to lure the hazel grouse and the quality of the semolina (food). A good peep, giving a soft and even sound, you can make yourself from the back of a goose feather or a thin tubular bone.
The whistles of hazel grouse – male and female – differ not only in timbre, but also in the combination of the sounds that make them up. Both male and female males, who intend to meet an opponent, and single females are well suited to the sonorous silver voice of the male “siii-ti, city, si-ti”. The males, who have not yet found a mate, respond to the short, without trill, voice of the female s-tyisi. In no case should you give the male’s voice a decoy whose sounds correspond in tone to the female’s voice and vice versa. Grouse quickly notice the falsehood, alert and fall silent.
The hunt begins in the early morning and continues until noon. After 2-3 hours, you can hunt until dusk. In rainy windy weather, hazel grouse hardly goes to the peep. The most favorable for such hunting are clear, quiet and foggy days with light drizzle.
Knowing the places where grouse is kept, the hunter walks along a path, a clearing, or an old overgrown road, listening to hear a familiar whistle or the characteristic sound of a bird taking off. Occasionally he squeaks in the voice of a female. If the hazel grouse responded, the hunter chooses a place convenient for shooting and, becoming behind the cover, begins to attract.