Wild Turkey's effect on Grouse populations.....

Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by beards-n-bone, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. beards-n-bone

    beards-n-bone 10 pointer

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    Nov 12, 2008
    Pulaski Co.
    Dad been chasing grouse since the late 60's. No secret the numbers are down and staying that way. He is convinced that the increase in Turkey populations has a direct correlation with the decrease in Grouse populations. I know habitat is the primary concern with ANY game species. What is your guys thoughts on this?
     
  2. KY Grouse Hunter

    KY Grouse Hunter 6 pointer

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Southeastern Kentucky
    Everything affects everything. I don't know about some of the rumors that Turkeys destroy grouse nests and bust their eggs and what not. But I do know if you bring in another species or another species takes off or goes above carrying capacity, it does affect other wildlife and flora either directly or indirectly. Now whether they are affecting the food grouse eat or the habitat in which they live is something I think is imperative to know, but something our Fish and Wildlife Services deems unnecessary knowledge. Thats another argument. My opinion Turkeys are very very good at clearing out areas of ground forage and falling tree mast. I cant tell you how many areas I have hunted over the years and then go in one day and the turkeys have devastated the area. My opinion.
     
  3. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    rush, ky, USA.
    Im in the same boat im not sure about turkeys hurting nesting or killing chicks etc. But im very sure they like the same type habitat and share it alot. Turkey go thru an area of grouse habitat and you can definitely tell they have been there in a bad way. I have personally seen it move grouse out of areas that was holding birds before they desimated it. I don't know if it caused harm to the grouse or not because most times for reasons unknown to me I can't find the grouse in that area anymore. I think with the limited habitat that grouse have, when a flock of turkeys start working the same area the grouse lose in one way or another.
     
  4. CSS archer

    CSS archer BBBC Members

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    Dec 13, 2001
    Central KY
    Turkeys like older habitats than grouse do, if you can stand in one place and spread your arms without hitting a tree, you are in habitat too old to support good numbers of grouse.

    No doubt there are more turkeys and less grouse than there was 25 years ago. If we had a strong pulpwood market and cleared the forest every 30 years we'd have grouse. Our hardwood rotations (80-100 years) and tendency to do politically correct timber harvests ( instead of clearcuts) is why we don't have good grouse numbers.

    Grouse are a species that is heavily predated, 80% do not survive a year, without vast acreages of quality habitat we'll never see what we consider good numbers. It's a species that's simply going to hold on in KY.
     
  5. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    rush, ky, USA.
    Someone needs to tell the turkeys that keep the 10-12 year old clearcut I hunt that there not in there habitat and they need to get out then.
     
  6. trust me

    trust me Troubled Loner

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    Nov 27, 2004
    Jerkwater, KY
    We do this topic from time to time here...nothing ever seems to change, does it?

    We all know what grouse habitat looks like. i'm covered up with habitat, logging of all kinds going on around me. I tried to walk through a 4-5 year old clearcut on Monday and had to admit defeat. Maybe in a year or two the blackberries will get some shade and I will try again...

    I'm constantly trying new areas. I don't hammer on the same half-dozen covers year after year; I know what it looks like when the cover is growing out. If I'm not fighting blackberries and saplings and grapevines, I know to look elsewhere.

    There's more to it than habitat. Maybe it's turkeys, maybe not. I know the turkeys around here don't seem to discriminate between successional and old growth. They rake it all up.

    But with that said, I'm not seeing very many turkeys this season, either. In past seasons I'd see 40 or 50 in a day of grouse hunting, both from the vehicle and in the woods, but this year, I've seen maybe a couple dozen all year and they were all in one spot. I've seen plenty of ground raking that's occurred, but I didnt' see the birds themselves.
     
  7. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    rush, ky, USA.
    I haven't seen alot this year either trust me. But I've seen just as much scratching as any other year. Maybe there all staying in heavier cover because that's really the only areas I've seen tore up alot. It seems like if im hunting thru the woods and get to the spot where any one of us would say there just has to be a bird in this that's when I find windrows of scratching and no birds.
     
  8. beards-n-bone

    beards-n-bone 10 pointer

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    Nov 12, 2008
    Pulaski Co.
    I agree....I don't think that the turkeys have read the script on where they are and are not supposed to be. I think with the leaves down they feel safe enough in thick cover to feed in there. Saw too much scratching in places that I thought turkeys would not use. Seems to be later in the year after the food sources in open timber have been exhausted when I see the most turkey sign in thickets. However, if their is a direct correlation, I don't think it has to do with food competition. Fern tips, beech buds, holly berries.....I can't remember all of the different stuff we have found in the craw of a grouse over the years. I really don't think you can starve a grouse. Explosions in coon populations, coyote populations, and bobcat populations must have negative effects. That being said, those predators don't seem to be harming the turkey populations. Not to sound like Al Gore, but do you think warmer winters would have anything to do with it? We are already on the southern fringe of the grouse's range. I have saw some places while turkey hunting in Alabama that looked like great habitat for grouse (food, cover,ect..) but none are there. Places to our north have high populations of both grouse and turkey. BTW in Pennsylvania we got up 16 birds in a 1 1/4 days of hunting....no turkey sign where we were whatsoever....so who knows.
     
  9. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    rush, ky, USA.
    Fact of the matter is noone knows much of anything about grouse and there problems in this state because they have all but written them off. The places that should be prime habitat such as dewey paintsville yatesville Grayson are the same as everything else in the state which is poor. There is no excuse except the people making the decisions definitely didn't have wildlife best interest at heart. Nothing new
     
  10. GrouseAssasin

    GrouseAssasin 12 pointer

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    Aug 1, 2009
    Jackson, ky
    A domestic turkey will try to eat just about anything they can get in their beak. I dont think its unreasonable to think if a wild turkey came across a nest full of grouse eggs they would think it was some kind of nut or something and bust the eggs up. I really, really dont like turkeys.
     
  11. beards-n-bone

    beards-n-bone 10 pointer

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    Nov 12, 2008
    Pulaski Co.
    I'd say that if grouse were the cash cow to KDFWR as turkeys were, they would get to the bottom of it. I understand the tree huggers have tied the hands of fish and wildlife somewhat, but science is on the side of the state when it comes to what is and what is not "good" habitat for game. Other than squirrels and turkeys, what good is big timber to wildlife?
     
  12. grousec

    grousec 6 pointer

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    Jan 15, 2009
    mt sterling ky
    Having first hunted grouse in the late 60's with my grandfather, and getting my first dog in 1972 I have hunted grouse a long time. I belive turkey have a greater negative effect on grouse numbers than any of us can ever imagine. Destroying nest eating eggs, eating young chicks and so on to the point that the number of surviving chicks that make it to adult is at an all time low. Couple that with another new predator for Ky the coyote, plus less trapping of fur bearing animals. Then too our woods are a lot more traveled (atv's and horse back riding some with guns) than they used to be. It all was just too much..IMO.
    I have hunted places in the last 4-5 years with habitat ought to hold great numbers of grouse, and not move a bird or seen any droppings.
    I think as we see turkey numbers increase will will see grouse numbers continue to decline......
     
  13. pentail

    pentail Bacon Staff Member

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    Sep 25, 2002
    Savoring the smoke
    Turkey affects on the nests themselves should be easy enough to monitor with cameras. I am betting a stronger fur market would help as much as anything for all game birds
     
  14. no.5 Buckshot

    no.5 Buckshot Spike

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    Jan 1, 2009
    Cumberland Ky
    I simply believe that turkeys have a direct effect on grouse population if for no other reason but over crowding. We have to many turkeys to have as many grouse. Turkeys seem to be where grouse used to be. wisc. mi. have both. I hunted up north for the first time hard every day for 7 days and I never saw the first turkey feather or nothing. They have the hab. for both, we don't. Why would kdfw try to solve the grouse problem if turkeys were the problem ? bobcats,skunks, coons we have always had and the decline started before the cayotes came around here atleast the numbers that we have but anyway that's what I believe.:eek:
     
  15. Bee

    Bee 8 pointer

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    Mar 14, 2005
    I could go off for a few pages on this one---I have some pretty strong feelings on this subject. Bitter? Not quite there yet, but not far from a stage of disgust that borders on it. IN my view there is no question the exploding turkey population has had a very negative impact on the grouse population in the same areas where turkeys are found. I consider myself qualified to comment here as I have grouse hunted eastern Ky and surrounding Appalachia for more than 50 years, and for all of it with grouse dogs any reader here would be mighty proud to own. And I have hunted it a lot of days . Those who say turkeys have an adverse impact are clearly in my camp. The biologists say they don't impact grouse. I am so nutty I think a thousand or more grouse hunting days in Appalachia might give me more insight than the biologists.. The biologists don't share that view- Trust Me and I have received some serious lectures about how little he and I know about grouse from a 25 +- yr old biologist from Rhode Island. I am not saying the biologists dont know what they are doing or that they are intentinally misleading themselves and us. No, I think they just have not properly studied the grouse-turkey issue in Appalachia. The data collected by the Appalachian Grouse Research Project a few years ago is an interesting read. But when I see that one of their conclusions , after all that study, is that acorns are the primary food of grouse (as a percentage of stomach content)I just sort of scratch my head. I might find one or two acorns a year in birds crops, and in some of my historical past I had a LOT of grouse crops go through my hands. On the other hand the biologists might be right about the acorns, and the fact that the oak is now a fraction of what tree species comprised the forests of Appalachia 50-75 years ago it may just be the disappearance or reduction of oaks that has led to the grouse decline.? There is a lot of rhetoric about the grouse decline , and facts are hard to identify. I do know this much for certain: some agency in each state is responsible for managment of the grosue population in their area. Right now they are not managing it very well, whether intentional or not. I will not go so far as to say the grosse will disappear from our mountains and ridges. But I do know that they are in very serious decline. If I were to rate the symbols of our piece of country as to their beauty , i would ratethe grosue as the true applachian icon. Not deer. Not elk. Not turkeys. I would consider myself a pitiful manger f I let that icon essentially disappear as a viable game bird on my watch. .
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  16. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    rush, ky, USA.
    Bee can I have your autograph??????
     
  17. Birdman

    Birdman Cyber-Hunter

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    Feb 26, 2002
    Paintsville, KY, USA.
    Guys in my opinion most of you are right, but don't forget the bird that takes 60% of grouse taken. When we talk with people up north about turkey, their answer is, we shoot them on site. If you take a close look at what our wildlife department and other wildlife departments focus on is species that the federal goverment funds to restore. They get big money to restore species and that's money in their pockets and job security.
     
  18. trust me

    trust me Troubled Loner

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    Nov 27, 2004
    Jerkwater, KY
    And all the people said, "Amen!"
     
  19. brettfrancis1

    brettfrancis1 6 pointer

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    Danville, KY
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    I saw 7 hawks today while driving a few miles today in a tractor. I sure didn't see 7 quail.
     
  20. uplandchessies

    uplandchessies 10 pointer

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    Mar 20, 2002
    Florence, Ky, USA.
    I'd say turkey are somewhat of a factor if proper habitat is absent. I know quail have adapted despite large concentrations of turkeys where I hunt. And don't expect the Dept. to do anything about small game. With the peril game birds are in they are not going to invest the resources when turkey, elk, deer and bear is where the money is.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011

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