Also Goes By: Snow Partridge
As the smallest grouse in North America, the White-tailed Ptarmigan is about 12 inches in length and weighs between 11 to 17 ounces. This bird molts for a seasonal color variation, having a white body in the winter and a brown mottled body with white wings, tail and belly in the summer months. This bird’s name is derived from the fact that it is the only Ptarmigan that does not have a black tail. It can be found in a wide range of alpine forests in Alaska and a few high elevations in the lower 48.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan subsists mainly on willow buds during the winter months. Although its diet will become more variable in the warmer months with the addition of insects, knotweed forb flowers and leaves, the willow remains a dietary staple year round. As a result they can usually be found in moist areas above the timberline.
These birds are wonderful to hunt with a canine companion and a 20 gauge shotgun should help a hunter fill their limit.
Photo Courtesy of John Hill.
Where to Hunt White-Tailed Ptarmigan
We all have limits. But that edge is never static. It’s a river that rages perilously close or meanders docile and aimless in the distance. Most people are perfectly comfortable keeping a healthy distance—there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there is something about that torrent that is captivating and revealing. What we see … Read more
Something is wrong with me. Any other sane bird hunter would have packed up and moved to the interior where the bird numbers and density are greater. But I’m entrenched in the Kenai and I can’t get away from it. I’ve shot a Whitetailed Ptarmigan already. I’ve seen where they live. I know their confounding … Read more
The first game bird bag limits in this country were established by the state of Iowa in 1878 as a way to protect remaining populations of Prairie Chicken, Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock. Iowa didn’t employ game wardens until nine years later, so it remains a mystery how such limits were enforced.* Today, bag limits are … Read more