Ruffed grouse season here in Wisconsin runs until January 31, giving us four and a half months to hunt. But the reality is there's not a lot of hunting after Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer season, which just ended a week ago. Usually snow and cold effectively end the season well before the end of January. These last two months, these last few hunts, are the second grouse season.
I'm happy to get out whenever I can and the weather permits. And the dogs -- they're happy to be out there whenever in whatever conditions. To them, there is no bad weather where grouse hunting is concerned. I'm sure they'd go out in a blizzard. A little snow build-up between the toe pads, no big deal.
My success rate in winter is considerably less than in September, October and early November. George Bird Evans wrote that he once hunted for 28 days in winter and only fired three shots. I never seem to shoot more than a couple of birds after gun deer season. The dogs have a harder time scenting, I think, and I'm simply not all that keen on killing any more birds. I like to think I'm leaving seed birds for next year, a theory that probably has no biological basis. Like my dogs, I'm just glad to be out there enjoying another day, another winter day. If I happen to shoot a bird, I consider it a Christmas bonus, a late season gift.