Primarily a bird of the open country, farmlands and plains, it is only where man has forced it back that the mourning dove has retreated to sparsely wooded or forest areas. The mourning dove is a rapid flyer and is considered among the most difficult targets to hit. It is occasionally hunted from a blind at a watering place, but most frequently in walk-up and drive hunts.
Populations are up in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington. The only state to show a drop in population is Louisiana. Arizona claims it has more mourning doves than any state in the Union. Imperial Valley, California is believed second. The entire state of Arizona, where a kill of 460,000 is anticipated, is open for dove shooting during its 45-day season.
One of the grouse that likes open spaces, the prairie chicken generally gathers in good-sized flocks, especially in autumn. It ranges from northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri west to Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Nebraska, eastern Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
About 18 inches long with a short tail (most of its length is in its body), the prairie chicken moves over the ground relatively well and has a powerful, moderately fast flight. It will usually flush long (ranges from 35 to 50 yards), making it advisable to have a full-choked gun and heavier loads than used on other birds (see chart page 32).
A wide-ranging pointing dog is most suitable for the long grasslands in which the prairie chicken is found.
Prairie chicken populations show little change throughout this bird's range. The overall picture is poor because of decreases over the past many years. Several states in which the prairie chicken is found have closed their seasons on the bird completely, and unless the population increases markedly in the future, they will probably not re-open.
The largest true grouse in North America, the sage grouse, reaches a length of almost 3 feet and a weight of eight pounds in adulthood, second in size only to the wild turkey.
The sage grouse, as its name suggests, frequents the dry plains and sagebrush which provide it with food and cover. Its diet of sage leaves gives it a strong taste which limits its popularity on the table.