Thinking about bird hunting!? Hunt Ruffed Grouse in Maine

While the state of Maine is most incredible for many reasons, many hunters regard it as one of the greatest places in the country to hunt for ruffed grouse. These little birds are one of the most sought-after upland bird species in the country, and many wing shooters will travel to the best hunting locations every year to find them. One of these includes the state of Maine! 

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The Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are one of the most plentiful and widely distributed game birds on the continent. They are on the smaller size when it comes to most grouse species, and range in weight from 16 to 25 ounces. They are beautiful birds that have many markings and colors in their feathers that help them to better blend in with their preferred habitat. Unlike other bird species, ruffed grouse are monomorphic. This means that both genders, male and female that have lost their juvenile plumage and colors, look alike. 

Ruffed grouse eat a variety of different things, including leaves, fruits, and insects. During the winter when snow is on the ground, they will eat things such as flower buds and catkins. Ruffed grouse will live an average of 3 years, although some birds can live up to 7 years. During the spring, male ruffed grouse will become more territorial of their area and start to “drum.” This is a display that helps them to ward off other males and attract females. 

Habitat and Locations

Ruffed grouse can be found throughout almost all of the state of Maine, although in various densities. The highest densities tend to be found in transition areas where thick forests and developed fields and farmlands meet. Cleared land and fires can create excellent grouse habitat, as it provides mixed-age aspen (a favorite of ruffed grouse). These types of areas provide everything that the grouse need to live, including food, shelter, and enough space to drum. Because ruffed grouse have such a small home range, all of these requirements should be found within a small area of around 30 acres or less. This can provide key clues to finding grouse while out hunting. 

Equipment and Gear

Hunter aiming rifle while hunting birds with Irish Red Setter dog In woods

The great thing about hunting ruffed grouse is that you do not need a ton of new or expensive gear to have a successful day in the woods. In fact, a good day of grouse hunting should only require things like a blaze orange vest, extra food and water, a navigation device (GPS), a shotgun, tough pants, long sleeve shirt, and some waterproof boots. A jacket and thicker clothing might also be a good idea if the weather is cold. 

Almost any shotgun you already own is probably more than adequate for grouse hunting. The most popular 20 and 12-gauge shotguns are some of the most widely seen, but even the 28 gauge and 410 can be used. Pair this with an open or improved choke as grouse shots are usually at close range, and size #6 or #7 shells are a great option. 

Many ruffed grouse hunters will often choose to hunt with a dog. But, unlike other bird species such as pheasants, ruffed grouse hunting can be achieved very successfully without a dog if you don’t have one. While almost any breed of dog can be taught and trained to hunt for grouse, most any sporting breed or pointers make for the best grouse dogs and provide excellent companionship while out in the woods. 

Maine Ruffed Grouse Season and Limits

The ruffed grouse season generally runs from the third week of September until December 31st of every year. There is a bag limit of four birds per day, with the possession of eight birds at any time. You will need to purchase a hunting license before you are able to hunt ruffed grouse in Maine, and this can be done either at a hunting license dealer found around the state, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife office, or online at their website (

Tips and Tricks

In order to best hunt ruffed grouse, you will first need to locate the best cover and food sources that the birds are using. This will ensure that there are birds nearby to hunt. From there, your job is to now flush the birds out in order to get a clear shot at them. Here are a few simple tips to help to get you started when it comes to hunting ruffed grouse! 

Hunt early/late – Ruffed grouse tend to be very inactive during the middle of the day. The best time to hunt for them is the early morning and late into the afternoons. This is when they will move around to look for food, and when they are the most vulnerable. 

Cover more ground – Although ruffed grouse live in relatively small areas, you may still need to cover plenty of ground in order to find them. Lace-up a comfortable pair of boots and don’t be afraid of covering plenty of ground! 

Be ready and quick – When ruffed grouse get flushed, they are quick and explosive. Always have your gun at the ready and try to be as quick as possible when you see or hear them. You may not get another opportunity after you flush them so always be ready and move as quick as possible to get a shot. 

Final Thoughts

Young hunter boy sit with his father in a truck tailgate.

The ruffed grouse is a favorite animal to hunt in Maine for many people, and it’s easy to see why. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of these amazing little birds and know where to find them and how to better hunt them. With the abundance of habitat and their excellent numbers, there are few things as enjoyable as a ruffed grouse hunt in this amazing state! 



Ruffed grouse have been known to excite hunters and foodies alike, so it’s not surprising that you may be wondering how to cook Ruffed grouse after your successful hunt this fall. With their delicious taste and firm texture, these birds are perfect for the winter holidays! From grilling to roasting, here are some delicious recipes you can use as inspiration when cooking Ruffed grouse. Be sure to share them with your friends and family members when they ask how to cook Ruffed grouse at home!

Ruffed grouse, also known as partridge, are one of the most popular game birds in North America, and many people who live on the east coast have at least tried one of these mouth-watering treats. However, cooking Ruffed grouse can be a tricky feat, and this article will teach you how to do it perfectly so that you can impress any guests with your culinary skills!

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What Is Grouse?

Grouse is a game bird that belongs to the pheasant family. It’s characterized by its small size, plump body, and dark feathers. The most popular type of grouse is the red grouse, which is found in Europe and Asia. The bird is considered a delicacy and is often served roasted or grilled.

If you’re lucky enough to come across a Ruffed grouse , you should know how to cook it properly! All too often people overcook their grouse, resulting in an unappetizing grey bird with a rubbery texture. To avoid this unfortunate fate, it’s important to cook your birds at the correct temperature for their size.

Here Is The Best Way Of Cooking Ruffed Grouse

Cut It Up

1. Start by cutting up your grouse into smaller pieces. This will help it cook evenly and prevent it from drying out.

2. Season the grouse with salt, pepper, and any other spices you like.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Place the grouse in a baking dish and cover it with foil or a lid.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the grouse is cooked through.

6. Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving and serving.

Salt It

The first step is to salt your grouse. This will help to tenderize the meat and also give it a little flavor. You can either use a dry rub or a wet brine. If you are using a dry rub, simply sprinkle the salt over the bird and massage it in. If you are using a wet brine, mix together 1 cup of salt with 1 gallon of water and submerge the grouse in it. Let it sit for at least 2 hours, up to 12 hours. Remove from the brine, rinse off any remaining residue. Prepare your cooking vessel: Your vessel needs to be deep enough that the grouse can lay flat without touching any part of it while cooking. A Dutch oven works well because there is an open top on one side so you can baste with butter or oil while cooking.

Pat It Dry

Ruffed grouse are a type of game bird that is popular in Europe and North America. The meat is dark and has a strong flavor, making it perfect for those who enjoy gamey meats. The best way to cook Ruffed grouse is to first pat it dry with a paper towel. This will help prevent the skin from becoming soggy during cooking. Then, season the bird with salt and pepper. Next, heat a pan over medium-high heat and add some oil. Once the pan is hot, place the grouse in the pan and cook for about 8 minutes per side, or until the skin is crispy and the meat is cooked through. Serve immediately with your favorite sides.

Rub It In Butter

Rubbing the grouse in butter before cooking helps to keep it moist and flavorful. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, take a stick of butter and rub it all over the outside of the bird. Next, place the grouse in a baking dish and bake it for about 45 minutes. When it’s finished cooking, let it rest for a few minutes before carving and serving. Enjoy!

Don’t have time to make gravy? No problem! Carve up some potatoes and throw them into your turkey roaster with some liquid seasoning, then roast them for about an hour alongside your grouse. Voilà—gravy without having to make a fuss or worry about being burned by boiling hot drippings from your roast. Don’t have time to make gravy? No problem! Carve up some potatoes and throw them into your turkey roaster with some liquid seasoning, then roast them for about an hour alongside your grouse. Voilà—gravy without having to make a fuss or worry about being burned by boiling hot drippings from your roast.

Finish It Off

Ruffed grouse is a delicious and relatively easy bird to cook. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get it right.

1. Start by trussing the bird. This will help it cook evenly.

2. Season the grouse inside and out with salt and pepper.

3. Place the grouse in a roasting pan breast side up.

4. Roast the grouse at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature of the thigh meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Remove the grouse from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Cooked Grouse
Roasted Grouse
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Cooking With Fresh Vs Frozen Ingredients

If you’re lucky enough to have fresh grouse, the cooking process is simple. Just season the bird with salt and pepper, stuff it with some herbs, and roast it in a hot oven until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through. The challenge for most cooks will be to successfully prepare grouse that has been frozen. With this type of grouse, the cooking time will vary depending on whether or not it was first thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. It’s important to remember that freezing does not kill any bacteria; if your frozen grouse has been thawed in water, then it must be refrigerated within two hours of preparation time or thrown away. When preparing the bird, start by patting it dry with paper towels before seasoning and roasting as described above. To determine if your grouse is done, use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast without touching bone. Cooked grouse should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). A small amount of the breast may still appear pink when done, but that’s fine—the juices should run clear when pierced with a knife. Allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes before carving so all the delicious juices can stay inside! For a tasty gravy, mix pan drippings with beef broth and heavy cream over medium heat until thickened. Grouse also makes excellent sandwiches if thinly sliced and served on whole wheat bread with horseradish sauce or cranberry sauce.

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The Importance Of The Right Equipment

If you want to cook a Ruffed grouse, you need the right equipment. Without the proper tools, you’ll be at a disadvantage from the start. Invest in a good quality skillet and cooking utensils, and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before you begin. With the right tools and ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to impressing your dinner guests with your culinary skills. The next step is knowing how to prepare the bird. For that, we recommend starting by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, cut off both of the wings of the bird and remove any visible fat or connective tissue that might prevent it from browning properly in the pan (don’t worry about removing its legs – they will eventually fall off during cooking). Once you’ve done this, season it liberally with salt and pepper on both sides before adding 1 tablespoon of oil to a heated pan over medium-high heat. Place the grouse skin side down in the pan and allow it to cook for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip it over so that the other side can cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to deglaze the pan, then add 4 chopped carrots, 6 thinly sliced shallots, 2 cups dry white wine, 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper. Bring everything to a boil before turning down the heat so that everything simmers for 15 minutes. Place some aluminum foil around the edges of the skillet so that moisture doesn’t seep out while you’re simmering and flip occasionally so both sides get cooked evenly. Remove from heat when done simmering; set aside until ready to serve!

Tips For Cooking In Large Quantities

  • If you’re cooking for a large group, make sure you have enough pots and pans to accommodate all the food you’ll be preparing.
  • Preheat your oven before beginning to cook, so that everything will be cooked evenly.
  • When cooking meat, make sure it is cooked all the way through before serving. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat.
  • If you’re making a dish that requires chopped vegetables, consider using a food processor to save time.
  • When boiling pasta or potatoes, add salt to the water to help give them flavor.
  • When making a sauce, taste it as you go along and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

How Does Grouse Taste?

Grouse is a wild game bird with a white, lean meat. When cooked properly, it is both tender and juicy. Grouse has a unique flavor that some describe as similar to chicken or turkey. Others say it tastes more like venison. Either way, grouse is a flavorful and versatile game meat that can be used in a variety of recipes. You may also see grouse being called rock ptarmigan because the species is found across North America and Eurasia.

This delicious meat packs about six times more protein than the same amount of beef, three times more than pork, and two times more than lamb (source). But how does this translate into actual calories? A 3-ounce serving of cooked roast grouse contains 187 calories.

Cooking Techniques & Variations

If you want to cook a Ruffed grouse, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. Make sure you clean the bird thoroughly before cooking.
  2. Decide what kind of flavor you want your grouse to have.
  3. Determine how you want to cook your grouse – grilled, roasted, or baked?
  4. Don’t forget to truss the bird before cooking to ensure even cooking.
  5. When grilling or baking your grouse, be sure to baste it regularly with its own juices or butter for extra flavor.
  6. Don’t overcook your grouse – it should be cooked through but still juicy. Finally, let the bird rest for a few minutes before carving and serving. Remember that meat continues to cook after being removed from heat, so don’t overdo it!
Curious grouse, tetrastes bonasia, watching attentively in green woodland.

How To Store Ruffed Grouse

To store your grouse, first make sure you pluck and clean the bird. Next, you’ll want to rinse the inside and outside of the bird with cold water. Once it’s clean, pat the grouse dry with paper towels. Place the grouse in a sealable bag and store it in the fridge for up to two days. When you’re ready to cook, remove the grouse from the bag and let it come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the grouse for about 30 minutes.

How To Preserving Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are a type of game bird that can be found in North America. These birds are usually hunted for their meat, which is considered to be a delicacy. If you’re lucky enough to bag one of these birds, you’ll want to know how to properly preserve the meat. Here are six tips for preserving your Ruffed grouse

  1.  Use a dry rub or wet brine to flavor the meat before cooking it – both will help season and keep your food moist during cooking. Dry rubs are typically made from spices, herbs and other ingredients while wet brines include salt and sugar or honey as well as vinegar or soy sauce.
  2.  Cook at low temperatures for long periods of time; this will not only seal in all the juices but also provide you with more flavorful results than cooking at high temperatures.
  3. Remove any skin before cooking; this will make it easier to serve and eat without having to chew through tough skin.
  4. Sear each side of the bird on high heat before continuing with low-temperature cooking; this will give you an extra crispy outside layer.
  5.  Allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes after being removed from the oven; this helps keep all those tasty juices inside.
  6.  Don’t forget about vegetables! You don’t have to just roast potatoes every time you have a whole turkey, try roasting some root vegetables alongside your Ruffed grouse. Some ideas would be carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, turnips and celery.

The key to good roasting vegetables is getting them cut up into uniform sizes so they cook evenly. Place your vegetables around the edges of the pan and nestle the Ruffed grouse in the center. Add butter (or bacon fat), salt, pepper and garlic powder (or minced garlic) to the pan before placing it in a 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until done. Check periodically to ensure nothing burns too much or gets too dark!

Grouse breast

Benefit Of Eating Grouse Meat

If you’re looking for a delicious, healthy way to add some variety to your diet, look no further than grouse meat. This game bird is not only lean and nutritious, but it’s also versatile and easy to cook. Here are just a few of the benefits of eating grouse

  • Grouse meat is an excellent source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids needed by the human body.
  • It is also low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthy option for those looking to improve their heart health.
  • Grouse meat is rich in iron, zinc, and phosphorus, all essential minerals for human health.
  • Eating grouse meat can help provide relief from fatigue and weakness caused by deficiencies in these vitamins.
  • It’s loaded with B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid which are important for energy production within cells as well as red blood cell formation.
  • A fun fact about grouse is that they produce twice as much natural omega-3 fatty acids as other game birds such as pheasant or quail do.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are very important because they can reduce inflammation throughout the body which helps with arthritis pain and may even be beneficial against some cancers!
  • They contain vitamin A which contributes to eye health while helping maintain healthy skin tissue too! Grouse meat has more selenium than beef, chicken, pork, or turkey. Selenium plays a key role in the development of muscle tissues and strengthening the immune system.
  • -Grouse meat is high in protein and low in fat (only 2% fat)
  • -This game bird contains more vitamins A, B12, D, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin (B3), folate (B9), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), biotin (B7) than other poultry sources
  • -The levels of these nutrients vary depending on how the animal was raised: those that are pasture-raised have higher levels because they eat more grasses and insects which contain these nutrients. Wild grouse will have lower levels because they eat bugs such as beetles or ants that don’t contain these nutrients.


There you have it! A simple guide on how to cook a Ruffed grouse. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to impress your friends and family with your culinary skills. And who knows, maybe this will be the start of a new hobby for you. So go out there, get yourself a grouse, and give it a try! You can always make some classic sides or desserts to accompany your main dish.

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