Black grouse

- Categories : Hunting

The black grouse, also called mountain pheasant or more commonly grouse, is one of the most peculiar wildfowl when it comes to hunting. Mainly coveted by mountain enthusiasts, such wildfowl is unevenly distributed throughout our territory, so you need to reach the north of Italy on the Alpine mountains to detect it (hence the name “mountain pheasant”).

If among larch and typical mountain trees you happen to catch sight of a black wildfowl featuring white or blue shades along with red wattles, that means you have bumped into just it, the male black grouse. However, don't be deceived by the charm of its hues, on the side don’t waste your time cherishing it. The black devil, is indeed a moody specimen. It could give you the opportunity to admire it with tranquility to the point that, taking the necessary precautions, you manage to immobilize it thanks to the precious help of your dog. Conversely, should it have a bad day, the wildfowl is also likely to worsen yours: in fact, in the blink of an eye, it can take flight thus leaving you there, at the starting post, empty-handed and without the slightest chance of chasing it. The black grouse is even known to run off with those sneaking up on it. Naturally it’s not so easy to snatch a hunter, but as mentioned above it can ruin your plans for the day.

You need stillness to hunt it. The bubbling, typical squawk of the male, is audible at long distances and this can help you and your pointing dog in the search, especially during the courtship singing season, when warbler birds hunting is allowed. Otherwise it must be chased with a dog, within an impressive high mountain environment. The scent hound has to be so toughened to withstand walking on mountain grounds and to be rock solid on point, so as to avoid missing the opportunity or causing an early fluttering. To this must be added a good physical preparation for both: walking in the mountains is not easy and if you are not trained there is a risk of giving up ahead of time, likewise your dog may suffer slowdowns due to the pain in its paws. Last but not least, let’s focus on the shotgun you are going to use for your hunting journey. Given the long walk and the steep terrain you will encounter, we recommend a lightweight and versatile item that does not strain your shoulder. As displayed in the table below, we limit the choice to 12-, 20- and 28- gauge.

Hunting techniqueGaugeBarrel lengthSelf-loading shotgunOver and under /
Side-by-side shotgun
Shotshell G.Lead shots Nr.
Pointing dog 12 66 / 71 ** *** / * 37 / 38 7 / 6 / 5
Pointing dog 20 66 / 71 ** *** / * 30 / 32 7 / 6 / 5
Pointing dog 28 66 / 71 ** *** / * 28 / 32 7 / 6 / 5

Firing a shotgun when your dog gets into point shouldn't be that hard, unless emotion or the loud fluttering play a dirty trick on you. Conversely if the black grouse is “stealthily” flying away, be prepared to see it rise into the sky and then swoop down with semi-closed wings. Hence we suggest **choke tubes for self-loading shotguns and the usual matching *** / * for over and under and side-by-side ones.

Black grouse hunting means therefore passion, sacrifice and perseverance. On top of the mountain, close to the sky, the magnificence of the every inch extraordinary landscape, will leave you speechless. However to fully enjoy such emotion you must not give in; only fearless hunters win out. After getting into position and leaving the efforts you endured previously behind, you shall get satisfaction for hunting such a fascinating wildfowl, which is impossibile to find elsewhere: managing to capture a black grouse thanks to your skills and sometimes your luck, shall be the utmost reward to bring home as the trophy of the day.

You have found our advice useful and are sure that you will put what you have learned into practice on your next hunting trip? Browse beyond this article! Learn how to properly use a choke and all the guides provided by Gemini , drawn up with the help of specialists, for hunting and shooting enthusiasts like you.

Our thanks go to Professor Simone Bertini and Diego Apostoli for their availability and the precious time they devoted to us for the drafting of these guides.