Ruffed Grouse Hunting Equipment
My name is Fritz Heller. I’m also known as the Grouse Commander, a moniker my friend Brad gave me after a streak of 11 Grouse up and 11 down over a three day weekend many years ago. I have been pursuing the King of all game birds (it’s the Ruffed Grouse, don’t argue with me about it) across the Great Lakes states for close to 20 years now, averaging 150 hours of ground time a season and wearing out equipment at a rate faster than the belly hair on my Labradors. I’d like to share what I’ve discovered as the best wardrobe for me to wear Grouse Hunting.
I’ve tried it all and it all comes down to one theme: staying dry and cool. But to be successful as a Ruffed Grouse Hunter, you should accept one awful aspect of it: being wet. My main hunting partner Eddie calls it “embracing the suck.” There simply is no way around it. In September the ferns are dew soaked. In October it rains, November it snows and in December it does both. I know what I’m willing to put up with so far as being wet and what I’m not, and I believe I’ve found the most comfortable compromise of performance, weight, and equipment in my hunting career.
When I wake up in the morning I slip on a pair of ExOfficio Give and Go Briefs. These things are amazing – they breath really well and they dry out very fast. I then slide on a pair of wigwam liner socks, the kind with a cuff. Over that goes smart wool light or medium hiking socks. I like the shortest ones I can find as I promise you: no matter what you wear, it will slip down. Next comes my pants. I’ve decided that gortex leaks in no time and cooks the bits inside your briefs just about as fast. So I save those Gortex pants for snow hunting in sub 35 degree weather. I have found a pair of Columbia blood and guts pants that are made out of 10X cloth and are incredible. Sure, you’ll still be as wet as if you were in the shower some days, but what I love about these pants is that they dry incredibly fast if there is any breeze at all. I then put on an Under Armor work out t-shirt. I’m 6’1 so I buy the “longs” – that way they tucked in. Over that I put on a 5.11 Tactical Shooting Shirt. This thing is amazing. I wish they still made them in blaze orange. For boots I’ve settled on mountaineering boots as I believe they are actually made to be used outdoors and they last for a long time. Boots made in Germany seem to be lasting the longest for me. I wear 7 inch hikers on days I know there is not much standing water and 9 inch boots on days I know there is. I wear batting gloves in the field or all weather golf gloves (rain gloves). Last but not least I put on my Q5 Quilomene San Carlos Y Back Vest. I was very fortunate to have input into the original design improvements when Dan from Q5 purchased Quilomene. Every good uplander is going to find what works for him, but I hope you’ve enjoyed finding and reading about what works for me.
Cheers to Great Hunting.