Also Goes By: Rocker, White Grouse
Photo Courtesy of Jan Frode Haugseth.
The Rock Ptarmigan can be found across the arctic and subarctic regions of North America and Eurasia. These birds are seasonally camouflaged and molt accordingly. During the summer months they are brown in color and during the winter they become almost completely white, save for their black tails. The Rock Ptarmigan is between 13 and 14 inches long and may have a wingspan between 21 and 24 inches. They have a preference for higher elevations and barren habitat. As a result, they have fewer encounters with predators and are actually more approachable than many other game breeds.
Rock Ptarmigans must eat one-tenth to one-fifth of their body weight daily. Consequently, they spend the majority of their daylight hours eating and foraging. During the winter months their diet consists of mainly buds and catkins of the dwarf birch. As the weather begins to warm, the Rock Ptarmigan will slowly change their diet accordingly, incorporating plants, insects, seeds and berries as the season changes.
Hunting Rock Ptarmigans can be a wonderful way to enjoy the scenic landscapes of the arctic regions. Moreover, bringing along a good hunting dog as an invaluable partner can be a rewarding part of the trip. Shooting will most likely be at a closer range, within 30 yards. As with most upland game, using a 20 gauge is a good choice.