To bag more ruffed grouse this fall, keep hunting until the end of legal light. That’s because the birds are more active as dusk rolls in, cramming their crops with berries, leaves and bugs to last them through to dawn. Slowly work trails or old lumber roads, looking for grouse feeding in the adjoining vegetation or eating grit for their digestion. You’ll also see them crossing pathways, hot-footing it for their roosting areas. Evening trail hunting is a surefire tactic for picking up a brace or two before the day is done.
The success of any snow goose hunt is directly proportional to the size of your decoy spread. When you’re looking at 500 dekes or more, however, it can get expensive. Plastic bags are one inexpensive option for filling out a spread, but I’ve seen them spook incoming fl ocks. Instead, use empty white bleach jugs. Simply split them lengthwise for easy stacking, slap some black paint on the sides near the base to imitate wing feathers and you’re ready to go. Keep the ratio at about one shell for every two jugs, concentrating the real decoys around the edges.
When the snow gets deep, snowshoe hares travel like ghosts through cover, leaving only their tracks. This can be a productive time to hunt, if you know what else to look for. First, watch for slight colour changes: snowshoes have a light grey tint, while the snow around them has a bluish hue. Also learn to identify their hideouts, or forms, from afar. Forms are usually found under low-hanging evergreen boughs or blowdown trunks, or in thickets of raspberry cane. Glass these areas and you’ll be surprised how many more hares you’ll see.
Stand hunting is arguably the most effective way to hunt whitetails, but treestands aren’t for everyone. Nor are long hours sitting on the ground in cold fall conditions. The answer is to use a pop-up portable blind. They’re light enough to pack anywhere, and roomy enough for a folding chair and portable heater—comforts that help you stay afield all day. You can leave your blind in a prime location for weeks or pick it up and go if it’s time to change locations.