The Wonderment of Spring Hunt in Russia

Each spring Russia provides great opportunities for one of the most exiting bird hunting experiences: Capercailzie and Black grouse hunt. Spring season is surely a very special time for each hunter. Nature awakes, and all of us eagerly await for the chance to go afield. Not every hunter is lucky to get a Capercailzie trophy. One has to go the remote pine woodlandsof Russia and explore the mossland outskirts searching for this ancient bird. To bag a Capercaillie, the hunter has to know its mores perfectly and to be able to control emotions during the sometimes-long stalk.

The Capercailzie is the largest game bird of the Russian forests. The old males usually weight around 3-6 kilos. In Russian, the name of the bird sounds somewhat like “Deaf Grouse”, and that is surely for a reason. When male Capercaillie performs a certain part of his mating call, this amazing bird becomes totally insensible to the sounds around him. This is because ofits unique ear structure. Thanks to this feature, the hunter gets a chance to approach this majestic forester during its song.

The Capercailzie starts to bell in the end of March and continues until the middle of May. We hunt Capercallie and Black grouse in the very middle of mating season: the end of April and beginning of May. This short period provides best opportunity to harvest beautiful old males. We offer spring hunt in two regions of Russia: Kirov and Vologda. The night train from Moscow easily reaches these regions. Flights are also available, making your traveling time shorter. The Capercaillie sings sitting high on a tree branch. Only old males call during the hunting season. The younger ones of 2-3 years old are called “silent” – they might be sitting somewhere nearby listening to the old cock, but won’t bell. Only after the mating season becomes low and most of the females already sit on eggs, the young birds will try their voices.

The game birds start calling very early in the morning, around 3-4 a.m. in the darkness. The song of Capercailzieconsists of two parts. The first one reminds the sound of small stones falling in the well, or large raindrops falling down from the tree branches. During this period, the bird often stops and listens, looking out for dangers. The second part sounds as if someone tries to sharpen the knife on a stone, or as if wind blows through the tree branches. This second part is very short; it lasts for 2-3 seconds only. It is this moment when the Capercaillie literary loses his mind because of love: during this short period, the male does not hear anything. A perfect moment to stalk the bird and to place a shot.

To get a Capercaillie, the hunters have to be in the forest by 2 a.m. Our guides know the locations of best lekking grounds. We will take you there by car or by quad depending on the region. From there the stalk begins. During the first part of the bird’s song, the hunter has to be very careful and make no sound at all and do not move. Only during the short second part, we start moving towards the tree where the bird is sitting. Usually it is possible to make only 2-3 steps at a time! The stalk can last for 30 minutes and up to an hour. This is an exciting experience and a real trial for your self-possession. The hunter has also be careful not to scare off the females and young “silent” males; they will make noise and stop the call of the desired old Capercaillie. Not to forget that your stalk goes on in the dark, in the forest, where one can suddenly hit roots of the mighty trees, or step into the frosty pool. Moreover, the Capercailzie sees very well during the whole call.

After the hunter manages to locate the bird and to complete the stalk, a careful shot has to be placed. The outline of the bird shows very well against the lightening sky. It is highly recommended to shoot only during the second part of the song. This way even if you miss, the bird will stay without even hearing a sound. Also it is possible to shoot two Capercaillies from one spot: you need to shoot the first one during the moment when the second bird goes deaf.

The day breaks at about 4 am. By 6-7 a.m. the Capercaillies fly to the ground and start their dances with the females. Usually by 6 am the hunters return to the base camp with their trophies. The hunt for the Black grouse is also an amazing one. Black grouse prefer to bell on the ground. They choose forest openings and tend to use the same spots each year. Over 10 males can gather on one lekking ground. The females sit in the trees surrounding the spot. Black grouse displaying is a very eye-catching performance. In order to see it and to get a trophy the hunter has to arrive to the spot before the sunlight and to hide in a special hut. The hides are located right near the lekking ground, which allows to enjoy the unforgettable show and to place a perfect shot on your Black grouse.

Another spring hunting amusement is Woodcock hunt. The hunt for this small bird is arranged after 8 p.m. The males fly near the small rivers and streams calling for the females. You will certainly first hear the Woodcock before you see it.

The hunter has to be equipped well for the spring hunt in Russia. The temperature during the night can go very low. Waders or warm knee high waterproof boots are recommended for this hunt. After the trophies are bagged, our guides will carefully prepare the birds. The Capercaillie and Black grousecan be either skinned or frozen in full. It’s up to your choice whether to ship the skins back home, or order a nice mount at our taxidermy studio.