Gastro Gnome - Eat Better Wherever

Sagegrouse loads and tactics?


Well-known member
Dec 20, 2000
I just picked up my two sagegrouse permits for Box Elder Co., UT!! I've never hunted these things before so was curious as to suggested loads. In the past I've used a 20ga with 2 3/4" #6's for rabbits/squirrls and 2 3/4" #7.5's for doves. Which of these loads would you suggest for the grouse?

Also, beings that I don't have a dog, these will be hunted the hard way. Any suggestions as to how to go about this? I know of an area with quite a few birds, so my thoughts are to just beat the brush in that area and try to jump shoot them.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I'd go with the 6's. I like to use 7.5's for most everything but the sage chickens I've seen are pretty good sized. Congrats on the permits.
Thanks GC. They still have a few left for Box Elder, Unita Basin, and Parker Mountain if your interested. You have to buy them in person though.
Way to go on the permits Tyler. I have shot a few sage grouse, but I wouldn't call it much of hunting. Most of the time I was driving down the road and noticed them in a field. Walk out and shoot one.

If you want to get out and walk, focus on wet areas or stock ponds with good sage brush cover in the area.

They are big and slow, so you can use a rock if you want.
Seriously, maybe I over gun, but I usually use 4's or 5's. This is usually what I have in my vest for sharpies and pheasants anyway.

Warning, not a very good tasting bird (and my dog will agree), but a good reason to be out in the field during the early season.
some high brass loads with 4,5, or 6 shot kills them very well. If you can't take a bird dog, take your house dog as long as you can maintain control of it. Recovering them in tall sage is tough without one. Any dog can smell better than a human.

Hunt near the water sources.
Thanks guys! They shouldn't be too hard to find. I drove around the area I'm hunting about a month ago for work
and saw 63 in two days. I may have some #4's already, so I'll just use those. I'll probably eat one, but the other is going to get mounted for memories, as sagegrouse are the driving factor for my MS research.

Worse comes to worse, I'll just drive around till I jump a couple off the roads and chase them down on foot. Thanks for the tip on taking the dog. The mutt we adopted in Feb. has some Lab in her I think, she has partially webbed toes. We'll see if she can find one!
With out a dog you could hunt them like a turkey. Find a water hole they are coming to and set up a ambush. They will come into the water hole first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Place the blind in a area that provides cover and good shooting. Wait until you see the big old bird you want and jump up, flush the bird and shoot. I have some home brewed 1 1/8 oz loads in a 2 3/4" low base hull for 20 gage. I use 6's in the first barrel and 5's in the second.
This is how Kasi shot her first bird. I like this way for kids because the bird gets close. I can also controll which bird I want them to shoot.
For me I like to hunt them up with my springer. Without a dog like you are I would use the water hole. It would be easier to find the bird and you can pick your bird to mount, and even get a male and female.
Thanks Ron! There is a couple of springs/seeps in the area. I'm gonna go up again before the season and see if their still there and will sit the springs then to see if anything comes in. Again, thanks for all the tips.
Idaho Ron is right cept....late afternoon and early morning means when it is nearly dark. I have had some exciting shoots for these "chickens" via this method. They do seem to leave a fairly strong scent for the bird dogs as well, I've had my shorthairs creep for for several hundred yards into a favorable breeze before locating the birds. There are those who think that they are terrible table fair. Wrong. Ted Truebloods recipe is the best ever. Breast/fillet the bird, cut the fillets with the grain into strips, place in zip-lock bag with roughly equal A-1 sauce and cooking oil, let soak for 30 minutes, place on hot bar-b-que grill for 3-4 minutes per side (medium rare), you'll be suprised!
Though these birds are large, they are not particularily tough and 6's in either 12 or 20 choked modified will do just fine.
They are truly a kick to hunt. Remember in Idaho where you find antelope you find chickens. Probably the same applies in Utah.
Wally, You are right. I did mean almost dark.
1-pointer. Whaen you scout for that type of hunt look for tracks and feathers at the waters edge. When you find that park your car and watch from the car with binoculars. I remembered another way I used to hunt them. We also used to find rocky ridges and used spotting scopes to find the bird that was the look out bird. Then we would stalk the covey. Ron
Thanks for all the tips guys, keep 'em coming! I'm starting to get pretty geeked. Never hunted a bird this big.

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