The slow and misty mornings this time of year seem to stretch half the day with the sun not cresting the horizon until nearly 9am, and it’s only going to get darker as we creep through the season. Spruce grouse are most visible at dawn and dusk and the belated changing of the light offers them security to come down from the trees to peck in the underbrush later & later in the day. Making them the perfect wild game for ambling walks with our children.
These birds are relatively small and do not spook very easily allowing one time to get very close to observe them. We have had in our neighborhood lately a very demonstrative male strutting about flaring his plumage and showing off to the gaggle of females that linger around him. Bronwyn enjoys watching the birds dance around each other, pecking at gravel and jostling for the best position.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy spruce grouse is to go out in the early morning to hunt in order to breast them, dredge the meat, thinly sliced through a salt and pepper spiced flour blend, and fry with over-easy eggs. In order to sop it all up with buttery toast at breakfast.
When hunting is good and we get 4 or 5 from a few different flocks in a morning, we like instead to save them and to cook them up for dinner in this rich, meaty Spruce Grouse & Stout Pie.
When Bronson and I first started dating I had a few outdoors woman tricks up my sleeve that were new to him, including one my Dad had taught my brother, Ian and I, as kids growing up in the Valley. He didn’t believe me the first time I told him I could clean a grouse in less than a minute and if I remember correctly I won a beer for this little skill!
Over the years I have taught this trick countless times and thought I’d share it here. Be sure to tuck it in your cap, for who knows when you may have the opportunity to win the stout needed for making this pie on a fortunate bet.