What’s Tougher on your Body: Pheasant Hunting or Ruffed Grouse Hunting?

Bob St. PierreAlthough most of my favorite outdoor publications annually run the same old tired stories about “getting into shape before bird hunting season,” I don’t think the non-hunter realizes the physical demands of a walk across the prairie, or through the forest, with a shotgun in tow. Similarly, I doubt most forest grouse hunters appreciate the exertion needed for a wild pheasant hunt and vice versa. It’s along these lines the debate in the Pheasants Forever offices last week commenced.

At 5’8” tall, some consider me relatively short . . . Okay, I’m really 5’7” and a ¼” . . . Anyway, I’ve always considered pheasant hunting to be far more physically demanding than grouse hunting. The resistance of the tall prairie grasses, cattails and brush against my short legs have always led to extreme leg fatigue and cramping, while ducking in and through alder swamps and aspen thickets have been relatively easy for me.

To my surprise, my taller colleagues Andrew Vavra, Anthony Hauck and Rehan Nana complained of finding the grouse woods to be far more difficult than the pheasant fields. They find the ducking out of the way of branches, climbing over deadfalls, and squeezing through poplar thickets to be much more of a physical workout than a sojourn across a pheasant prairie. I grew up hunting ruffed grouse in Michigan’s northwoods, while all three of these guys cut their teeth on the open pheasant prairies of Minnesota and Kansas, respectively.

So the debate has got me thinking about the classic nurture versus nature debate, from a bird hunter’s perspective. Are the physical demands of pheasant hunting and ruffed grouse hunting directly related to your height or to the type of hunting one is introduced to in the beginning?

How tall are you, what kind of bird hunting did you grow up on, and what type of bird hunting is hardest on your body?

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