Maine is arguably one of the best places to hunt ruffed grouse. Known locally as partridge, ruffed grouse are the king of gamebirds in this state. Opportunities abound for grouse hunting in Maine.
Grouse Hunting in Maine
Partridge is Maine’s Cash Crop. Well, not actually. But grouse are a notable byproduct of Maine’s thriving lumber industry. The regrowth of trees following a logging operation creates ideal habitat for grouse. These birds thrive in disturbed areas with young or mixed-aged trees, especially aspen, interspersed with openings.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) estimates there are over 27,000 square miles of potential grouse habitat within the state. Granted, not all of it will be ideal habitat and some of it will get heavy hunting pressure. But even so, we’re talking tens of millions of acres, much of it either working timber land or under some form of management.
Wild Maine Grouse
With so much available land, Maine grouse are able to inhabit some very remote areas. If you’re willing to put forth the time and effort to reach these spots, you can find some very wild, undisturbed populations of grouse. Having had little to no human interaction, these grouse are more elusive and tend to flush better, making for a more challenging hunt.
For the wildest of the wild partridge, journey deep into large forest tracts and hike far in off the roads. The North Maine Woods (NMW) offers over three million acres of working forest lands open to hunters for a modest access fee.
After entering through one of 15 access points, you can journey deep into the area via thousands of miles of logging roads. With just a bit of effort, you can access some of the wildest areas of northern Maine’s vast wilderness. Just be sure to remember the map and compass.
Best Grouse Hunting Nearby
If a long trek into seemingly uncharted territory is not your idea of a quality hunt, don’t despair. According to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, some of the highest ruffed grouse densities occur in the “transitional zone” – the area between the “big woods” and the more developed areas of the state.
This area features of mix of active and abandoned agricultural land as well as the gradual transition into the forested areas that dominate the north part of the state. Such an eclectic landscape makes for excellent grouse habitat.
With quality grouse hunting close to population centers, you can hunt all day and still retire to comfortable, modern lodging at night. No compass required.
Grouse Hunting with Dogs is optional
Though some bird hunters may consider it sacrilege to hunt without a dog, the simple fact is that some hunters either don’t have a dog or are unable to bring their dog on a trip. But not to worry. Either method works for grouse hunting in Northern Maine.
In fact, some research suggests that more than 50% of grouse hunters don’t use dogs. So with plenty of places to hunt and lots of birds, a good bird dog isn’t a requirement.
Not all grouse are created equal
A note of caution. Maine is home not only to the ruffed grouse, which can be legally hunted during the established season. It is also home to the protected spruce grouse, which cannot be legally hunted anywhere in the state. Hunters must know the difference.
Though spruce grouse are relatively rare throughout the state, they do inhabit the same areas as ruffed grouse. So be aware and always be sure of your target before shooting.
It’s hunting, not harvesting
With literally millions of acres of habitat available – much of it accessible to hunters – it’s no wonder ruffed grouse is the king of gamebirds in Maine. Whether you’re looking to squeeze in a day trip or a lengthy partridge pursuit into Maine’s vast wilderness, opportunities abound for grouse hunters in Maine.
But like with all pursuits of this kind, the joy is in the hunt, not the harvest. For all the grouse hunting opportunity Maine offers, we hunters know there’s never a guarantee of ending up with birds in hand.
Time spent afield with friends and family is always time well spent, even if the partridge is left in the pear, or aspen, tree.
Camp Katahdin is a luxury hunting retreat in Northern Maine. Our 15 person Hunting Lodge is set in the most beautiful hunting grounds in the Katahdin area. Step out the door and walk, ATV, or snowmobile to prime hunting locations. Get some practice at our private shooting pavilion or work with some bigger firepower. Then, come back and rest easy in our new luxury lodge. We are commercially zoned for Pheasant hunting – that means, no license needed, 7 days a week hunts.
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