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Video: Dusky grouse strut their stuff this season

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Dusky grouse males seemed to be especially testy during mating season.  One of the feathered bruisers even took on a Washington Fish and Wildlife policeman.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson was glad he was safely inside his vehicle when a different dusky made sure he knew whose territory he was in.  

Check out his short video and live in FEAR of grouse.

We decided to head back to where we had the encounter with the crazed Dusky Grouse a week ago. Realizing that lightning doesn’t often strike twice in the same spot – it seemed worth a try.
This time, we were prepared. The GoPro video was ready.
 
As we rounded the corner where we had last seen the grouse, there to our surprise was our little friend standing in the middle of the road. I stopped the truck and shut it off. The grouse came running.
 
It was almost a complete replay from last week. He flew to the roof of the car and tried to get in the Sun roof and drivers window (see image of grouse on roof looking into drivers window from the roof).  The window was only rolled down about 2 inches.
 
He eventually flew back to the ground and continued to circle the truck. I got out and hand-held the tiny GoPro video camera. He attacked the camera with a vengeance. He did manage to draw blood twice during the encounter! He targeted the fingers holding the camera.
 
I returned to the truck and we drove away in defeat. This little guy is cranky…
 
He was still standing in the road as we left.

Grouse puts wildlife police officer in pecking order

WILDLIFE — Washington Fish and Wildlife police officers are accustomed to dealing with testosterone-charged males strutting their stuff.

But officer Curt Wood stood up to a bird-brained attacker to get these photos.  Here are the details from an edited version of the agency's Enforcement Division's weekly report:

While patrolling Lincoln County for turkey hunters, Officer Wood encountered a male dusky grouse that was strutting head on a primitive road.  Officer Wood pulled his patrol vehicle up to the grouse and stopped.  

Within seconds, the grouse jumped up onto the front of the officer's pickup and started strutting on the hood.  Officer Wood was able to get one picture with his cell phone camera before the grouse jumped back onto the ground in front of the truck.  

Wood got out of his vehicle and eased to within a foot or so of the grouse.  While the officer was snapping more photos, the grouse suddenly attacked Wood’s hand, sending his camera flying several feet.  

Wood was able to get a few more pictures (and a few more pecks to the hand) before he returned to his vehicle and tried to get out of there with his ego intact.  While driving away, he observed the grouse chasing his vehicle for quite a distance down the road. 

At last report, no charges have been filed.

Mountain grouse moving to high country

BIRD HUNTING — I've been hiking a lot of miles of trails the past few months and I've clearly seen the progression of dusky grouse into higher elevations.

Males tend to be at higher elevations earlier in the year, while the hens with their broods don't move up until mid September or so. 

Yesterday I hiked (in the rain) on a couple of high mountain ridges in northeastern Washington where I'd seen only a couple of scattered grouse a few weeks ago.  This time I saw two broods of grouse — an adult an 3 and 5 chicks in each group.

The chicks were not full grown. They were about the size of chukars.  I'll give them another week or two before heading out with the shotgun and English setter.

Is bird license needed to hunt forest grouse?

HUNTING — While an upland bird or small game license is needed to hunt pheasants and quail, and a migratory bird stamp is needed to hunt waterfowl, no special permits are needed in Idaho and Washington to hunt forest grouse — dusky, ruffed or spruce grouse.

Hunters simply need to have a current hunting license for hunting these forest grouse species.