Grouse have never been a primary quarry for Missouri hunters. The game birds have struggled here, especially in central and western Missouri. Nevertheless, wing-shooters willing to canvass hardwood stands, field edges and brushy creek bottoms in northern Missouri's Adair and Putnam counties, or the eastern reaches of Mark Twain National Forest in south-central Missouri, can score. Be prepared to put in some time and walk some miles. In October, broods disperse. Birds are on the move, looking to bulk up on wild fruit before settling into winter roosting areas. Some of the best grouse habitat is on state and national lands managed for timber harvest. The best bets may be areas within the Doniphan/Eleven Point District of the 1.5-million-acre Mark Twain National Forest. These areas include Cedar Bluff area in Carter, Oregon and Ripley counties; Compton area in Ripley County; Irish wilderness area in Oregon County; Round Mountain area in Shannon and Carter counties; and Wildhorse Hollow area in Carter County. There are also nearby patches of state lands open to hunting, including 5,746-acre Sunklands conservation area in Shannon County and 5,387-acre Stegall Mountain natural area within Carter County's Peck Ranch conservation area. Contact: Missouri Department of Conservation, Ozark regional office, West Plains (417-256-7161).