Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/243

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215
RUFFED GROUSE.

than his barking alarms the birds as much as the report of a gun, and causes them to rise and alight on the nearest trees, on which they may be shot at with great success.

This leads me to remark, that the prevailing notion which exists in almost every district where these birds are numerous, that on firing at the lowest bird perched on a tree, the next above will not fly, and that by continuing to shoot at the lowest in succession, the whole may be killed, is contradicted by my experience; for on every attempt which I have made to shoot several in this manner on the same tree, my efforts have proved unsuccessful, unless indeed during a fall of snow, when I have killed three and sometimes four. The same cause produces the same effect on different birds. It may happen, however, that in districts covered with deep snow for several weeks, during severe winters, these birds, becoming emaciated and weak, may stand a repetition of shots from a person determined to shoot Grouse even when they are good for nothing; but, kind reader, this barbarous taste is, I hope, no more yours than it is mine.

During spring, and towards the latter part of autumn, at which times the Ruffed Grouse is heard drumming from different parts of the woods to which it resorts, I have shot many a fine cock by imitating the sound of its own wings striking against the body, which I did by beating a large inflated bullock's bladder with a stick, keeping up as much as possible the same time as that in which the bird beats. At the sound produced by the bladder and the stick, the male Grouse, inflamed with jealousy, has flown directly towards me, when, being prepared, I have easily shot it. An equally successful stratagem is employed to decoy the males of our little Partridge by imitating the call-note of the female during spring and summer; but in no instance, after repeated trials, have I been able to entice the Pinnated Grouse to come towards me, whilst imitating the booming sounds of that bird.

Early in spring, these birds are frequently seen feeding on the tender buds of different trees, and at that season are more easily approached than at any other. Unfortunately, however, they have not by this time recovered their flesh sufficiently to render them worthy of the attention of a true sportsman, although their flavour has already improved. When our mountains are covered with a profusion of Huckleberries and Whortleberries, about the beginning of September, then is the time for shooting this species, and enjoying the delicious food which it affords.

The Ruffed Grouse, on alighting upon a tree, after being raised from