Adrian Skok

Hunting ptarmigan in winter: The 5 things you need to know

Snow birds

How to venture north for willow ptarmigan—some of the best wingshooting in Canada 

#3: Go at the right time

Adrian Skok
Adrian Skok

Some of the best hunting occurs in mid- to late winter once the majority of local ptarmigan populations have assembled into their boreal overwintering grounds. Once out of tundra ecosystems, the birds become more concentrated and accessible to hunters. Since they receive almost no hunting pressure, ptarmigan are not particularly wary of humans, so it’s usually not hard to get within shotgun range.

The hard part is searching for them. At that time of year, temperatures can plummet and snow depths are often above the knee or even at the waist. This makes travel by snowmobile the only effective way to cover ground to find birds. It’s often a matter of simply recognizing their preferred wintering habitat, then conducting daily milk runs through the area to maximize your time.

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