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Discussion in 'Upland Game hunting, Dogs and dog training' started by Ðe§perado™, Dec 13, 2002.
Anyone seeing them while they are out and about hunting?
I've been averaging slightly half the birds flushed this year vs last. The only positive thing I've got to say this year is that we've flushed three in portage county this year. Last one I'd seen before that was 9 yrs ago.
Welcome to the site!
it seems they are running thin. I have been out and only seen a few in the past few seasons.
We been finding a few around Wayne National Forest. Not quite as many as last year but I haven't gotton out as much either. Had 5 in sight last Saturday but they are real skittish since deer gun season just ended.
My buddy is a game warden and he claims numbers are down this year. I can believe it cause I've not seen any in the times I've been out so far this year.
but was kicked
I went yesterday to a new area and jumped one bird. And I walked for miles too. ohh well. going to try today also. I will let you know what happens
So what does everyone think is the cause, for the numbers to be so far down? In the late 70s, early to mid 80s we averaged 30-35 flushes per day. Some days over 50. Last season I hunted (3 yrs ago) an exceptional day was 10, usually more like 4. Now it's a long drive for 2 or 3 flushes. I know the cover changes over time, but we now see more turkeys than grouse. My feeling is that's a big part of it. It looks like a bulldozer went through where a big flock of turkeys were scratching. The second growth doesn't get a chance to start. The grouse need the thick, overhead cover to feel secure from avian predators. Without it, they won't be there. I've seen what looked to be good feeding sources, but there was no overhead cover. Hence, no birds. Is the state doing much clear cutting? Even so, these areas take 8-10 yrs to be productive. My feeling is the turkeys have become so popular (read dollars) that the grouse are being ignored, by the state.
I don't think the turkey really have a lot to do with it, I think it mostly boils down to habitat. So many of the areas that we've hunted over the past 10 yrs that used be good have grown up too much, both state and private land. I have yet to see or hear of any clear cuts on any state ground except in the extreme southern counties. The only places I have on state ground that have improved is where there has been some intense storm damage otherwise thats it. I do know that this year had a bad hatch and I was told by a biologist that they think this years grouse and turkey hatch were both nearly a complete wash.
Me and a friend went yesterday. jumped 7 different birds. had 8 flushes. But my friend got the only bird. we both had good shots just couldnt hit a thing. ohh well heading to kentucky today. I will let you know what happens
Lance, too bad to hear of the hatch problems. The prior couple yrs, people were talking about increased numbers. Now this. The last 4 or 5 yrs I haven't hunted grouse much. I had to put my Springer down, and haven't gotten a good one to replace her, yet. I don't find hunting grouse without a good dog to be much fun. Hopefully I'll get another dog and the numbers will come back. I just hope the state doesn't blow off the ruffs for the turkeys.
Went to kentucky yesterday morning. And had a great time. we flushed 10 and only got shots a two. That was out of a group of five hunters. I took the only bird of the day. I belive there was more there but the ground was too dry. And the birds was running. The one I took I spoted on the ground hauling butt. He didnt flush untill I took a shot over its head. Then the fun started. Any way It was the first kentucky grouse for me I think after 3 straight days of hard hunting ohio and kentucky its time for a break. The only grouse I am hunting are the four in the freezer. should be a great meal.
I tend to agree with Gunner70's comments about the turkey having something to do with the Grouse populations . I would like to add that Grouse are ground nesting birds . What do you think a Grouse nest would look like after a group of Turkey went through scratching around ???? Like a bulldozer came through ??????
I think that hawks and owls do their share too but the turkey's sure do seem to tear up a lot of ground .
Low grouse numbers
Habitat distruction by the whitetailed deer is a major contributor to lower numbers of ground nesting birds. The next time you are in a greenbriar/rose thicket take a close look at the plants. Every single one will exhibit cut ends. Over browsing coupled with less sunlight reaching the forest floor are the main culprets for reduced twig density and plant diversity below knee level. I remember one day in December 1968 that I spent around Atwood Lake, I flushed and shot at 25 grouse.
Just one man's opinion.
Deer and grouse
Loss of habitat definitely is the main problem but I can't fault the deer. I hunt areas of Michigans lower penninsula and the UP that have deer populations that Ohio will never see and the grouse hunting is unbeleivable. Canopy is THE culprit. Bunnies also eat twigs off the forest floor. The forest is just plain too mature for grouse at that point and without fires or cuttings those areas will become nearly void of grouse.
Re: Deer and grouse
I too hunt MI. The most obious difference between MI and OH cover is AGE diversity. There is virtually no young cover on Ohio's Public lands, both state and national.
You hit the nail on the head. It's the forest not the deer.
Not really one definite reason
I can't blame any particular reason for the decline in Ohio Grouse.
I would think its a multitude of reasons some natural some not so natural.
Deer..Nah....I don't think they disturb the ground all that much
Turkeys...from what I've seen there is a major rise in population and boy they can scratch down a whole hillside in short order. I do believe that this could be some part to decline. (Lots say they really hurt the mushroom crop)
Forest Management....I think this is the biggest reason. To many tree huggers not realizing how clear cutting helps the bird population. I've always wondered how they explain that Hickory Rocking chair they prize so much or How there house has wooden materials as part of the structure...Oh the funny one I imagine is them burning (Wood) in there fancy fireplaces as they discuss how bad it is to cut down those old trees.
Natural....Grouse cycle..plain and simple but I think with proper managment we would not such lows in the cycle.
Maybe I'm getting to old and can't cover the ground I used to. There out there but keeping a step ahead of me.