Pages of passion: New anthology captures love of ruffed grouse

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 12:22 AM

Tom Pero’s beautiful, massive anthology is an ode to the premier game bird in the United States, and especially in Minnesota.

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Ruffed grouse is the topic for a new 550-page anthology titled “A Passion for Grouse — The Lore and Legend of America’s Premier Game Bird.

Photo: Photo: Timothy C. Flanigan. Wild River Press,

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Patience. Focus. Vision.

Ruffed grouse hunters need it.

It turns out so do book publishers.

Tom Pero spent two years assembling a massive 550-page anthology called “A Passion for Grouse — The Lore and Legend of America’s Premier Game Bird.” It’s filled with stories and essays from numerous authors and experts on grouse biology, dogs, guns, hunting strategies and tactics, as well as some classic pieces by legendary authors long gone, including Gordon MacQuarrie.

The book also is jammed with spectacular color photos, and even includes grouse recipes.

“It’s the biggest book about ruffed grouse hunting ever published,” said Pero, who owns Wild River Press in Mill Creek, Wash.

And Minnesota, regarded as the nation’s top grouse-hunting state, has some prominent representation. Renowned grouse biologist Rocky Gutiérrez of the University of Minnesota kicks off the book with a look at the natural history and management of ruffed grouse. And there’s a lengthy chapter on grouse hunting in the northwoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan by Wisconsin author Mark Parman.

The hefty tome comes with a hefty $100 price tag, and isn’t aimed at casual grouse hunters, though they, of course, are welcome to browse.

“This book is aimed at the guy who lives his life for this sport,” Pero said. “The guy whose year revolves around grouse hunting. He’s not casual about it, and neither are we. We’d love to have the casual grouse hunter or the 15-year-old kid read it, but realistically, it’s for the rabid chaser of ruffed grouse. That’s the guy whose heart we want to capture.”

Pero’s theory on publishing is go big or go home. Thus the large 8½- by 11-inch format, with page after page of color photos.

“We want to put on a big show — the sport deserves it and these guys who love ruffed grouse deserve it,” he said. “It’s their book.”

Pero, a lifelong hunter and angler, said the idea of getting numerous writers to contribute to the book, rather than just one, broadens the appeal. “No one individual could have written such a massive book,” he said. “It all works as a wonderful mosaic. There’s great writing in every single piece.”

The book isn’t available at retail bookstores, only directly from Pero’s company (wildriverpress.com or 425-486-3638). He said he has already sold about 500 copies, and figures sales will come primarily from the big grouse-hunting states, including Minnesota, which counts nearly 100,000 ruffed grouse hunters.

“But I’ve gotten orders from all over the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, winter has arrived in northern Minnesota, and snow is deep enough in many areas for ruffed grouse to burrow under for warmth and safety. Few ruffie hunters trudge the silent woods these days, looking for some final flushes as the season draws to a close Jan. 1.

 

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

Twitter: @dougsmithstrib



 

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