Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Canada

Bowhunting Grouse

The memory of the first wild game I harvested myself (a grouse) always makes me smile. It was a small sign that my brother, J, and I could indeed source our own meat. The upland bird season (we refer to it as grouse season) is a long one here in Alberta (September 1st to January 15th). How awesome is that? We like to make the most of the season and get out whenever we can to go bowhunting grouse.

If you are like me, archery is a small (read: large) addiction. I found it rather late in my life (~25 years old), and in the last 5 years I have gone from a mix matched, out of tune bow shooting Bass Pro Shops arrows to a high end hunting rig with arrows that I built and tuned myself! Any chance where I can get to get out and shoot my bow is a win. So now we couple the memory of that first wild game meal, with the pleasure of shooting my bow and boom… bowhunting grouse!

If you were to poll the vast majority of hunters on their preferred weapon for grouse you would get shotguns of all sizes and the odd .22 rifle. A shotgun allows the hunter to flush grouse and then shoot them on the fly or shoot a bird in the trees. The .22, my go-to if I leave my bow behind, allows you to aim for the head, avoiding any potential meat damage. It also can extend your range, and once again make treed birds easier to harvest. So with the effectiveness and efficiency of a shotgun or a .22, why do I choose my bow?

There are a few reasons:


I will carry a small game broadhead tipped arrow in my quiver when out bowhunting large game. I make my own small game broadheads, check out this article on how to do it and maybe it’ll save you some coin! Being opportunistic to never pass up a good meal, like Randy Newburg, if I see a grouse, my hunt changes from a deer hunt to a grouse hunt rather quickly.


Grouse are a small target, they often feed along trails and in the cover of brush so in order to kill a grouse with a bow and not harm meat you are aiming for a 1-inch window. This small target is great for practicing your in the field accuracy under pressure. Because grouse move around a lot while feeding, your shot windows may be brief, which increases the pressure to make a good shot or risk losing that grouse.


Bowhunting grouse trains your brain to look for the slightest movement. Scanning bushes and bases of pine trees for a twitch or a scurrying 2-3lb bird can be tough. Sure, the odd grouse will just stand in the middle of a quad trail but the majority of birds are quite tough to spot. Training your brain to scan quick but still detect movement is very beneficial when it comes to still hunting or glassing for big game animals.


Bowhunting grouse is a great way for new archers to get involved in the sport of bowhunting. A missed shot while looking for grouse means an escaped bird and likely another chance once it stops scurrying around. A missed or poor shot bowhunting big game could lead to a wounded or unrecovered animal. Also, there are no minimum requirements for poundage when bowhunting grouse. So a youth or new archer who is not yet pulling 40lbs (the requirement for big game in Alberta) can still enjoy the thrill of bowhunting. 

I am sure looking forward to taking my wife on her first grouse hunt, where she will be bowhunting grouse this fall!

I encourage you to get out and try bowhunting grouse this fall, you will not be disappointed. Unless you miss that is 😉


– R

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