Sherpa Guides > Virginia Mountains > Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

The Dry River Ranger District has a sizeable population of grouse (Bonasa umbellus). Early settlers found the birds abundant and easy to kill. In fact, grouse were sometimes called "fool hens." Pioneers claimed they could walk up to roosting birds and pop them with a stick, but pioneer stories and folklore occasionally get misshapen from too much handling. Just consider Daniel Boone and the bear, or Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox. Few people would refer to a grouse as a fool hen now. All animals and birds learn caution if they're hunted over several generations. The most likely way to see a grouse today is in a blur of wings and tail feathers as the bird flushes at your feet and rockets away through the understory. Of course a grouse will crash dive through a plate-glass window from time to time. But that's because it has filled its crop with the fermented berries of autumn.

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