There are many small game and big game hunting opportunities across North America, but one section of animals that are growing in popularity is game birds. Amongst all of the game birds, there are four that stand out from the rest. What are these birds and what makes them so special? Let’s talk about it!
There are many different species of grouse in North America, and they can be found all over the continent. These species include the Spruce grouse, Blue grouse, Rock grouse, Ruffed grouse, Sage grouse, Sharp-tailed grouse, and the Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chicken. There are also subspecies of these grouse as well. These birds live in a variety of different habitats, and all have their own unique look, habits, and challenges.
Ruffed grouse are sneaky and unpredictable. They speed up near your face and disappear in a rib-cracking heartbeat. Canada’s southern ruffles, in particular, present one of wing shooting’s ultimate challenges. Generations of hunting pressure have given these birds a hair-trigger attitude and an arsenal of evasive tactics.
Hunting grouse will vary from species to species, as well as the habitat and terrain that you are in. This being said, most grouse are hunting with either a flushing or a pointing dog. They are an extremely popular animal to pursue and make excellent table fare.
Quail are very recognizable and might be one of North America’s most iconic small game birds. Just like the grouse, there are different species of quail. These include California (Valley) quail, Gambel’s quail, Scaled (Blue) quail, and Mearns quail. All of these birds live in ground-dwelling flocks that are called coveys. Each species will have its own preference of habitat and terrain that it likes to live in, although many of these species live in the same areas.
Quail are most commonly hunting behind pointing dogs, as they love to hold tight in thick cover when they sense danger. This is where a good dog could become invaluable. Quail are also some of the best-tasting game birds around and are a favorite amongst bird hunters.
You will find quail in the central part of the United States, for the most part. They are more prevalent in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas.
You can also find them throughout the Southeastern United States including eastern Mexico.
While doves might not be hunted the same as the other three birds here on our list, they are some of the most widely spread birds around and are extremely popular for bird hunters. Doves are generally shot without dogs, and are done with a “pass shot”. This means they are shot as they fly to or from their roosting areas and their feeding grounds, generally around agricultural fields. The most common type of quail that is hunted all around the country is the mourning dove.
Ring-necked and common pheasants are probably the most iconic upland game birds in the entire world. These birds are sought after for the challenges they present, their amazing appearance, and their excellent table fare. An interesting fact is that, even though they are considered the most popular, these birds are actually non-native to North America.
Pheasants move through various types of habitats throughout the day. This movement leaves them holding to edges frequently. A lot of hunters target big chunks of habitat but it is important to check out places like fence lines and ditches. Anywhere one type of pheasant habitat transitions to another can offer excellent hunting.
Pheasants are most commonly hunted with pointing and flushing dogs, because like quail these birds like to hold tight when in danger.
And there you have it! These four different game birds are a ton of fun to hunt and will provide any hunter with an amazing experience and a unique set of challenges.
For more great ideas on how to fish and hunt from the experts, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Hunting & Fishing Blog for more great tips & tricks.