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Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by msu_hunter, Feb 12, 2015.
They're here. Now you know.
Its not just in Ky guys. 15 years ago in western North Carolina, we got up 25-30 birds a day. Now you're lucky to flush 4 or 5.
I wanted to ask you about something you mentioned earlier regarding farms reverting back to forests and the habitat it created. In this part of the state we have lots of reclaimed strip mines which are progressing very similar to a pasture that had been let go. They start as clover and other greens, then morph into brushy cover, and finally begin to get more and more woody growth in them.
My question I guess is how similar would you think this situation is to the reverting of old farm lands?
If the reclaim soil was compacted as was common, it takes decades for native stuff to take root. If not compacted, not as long. Lots of reclaims are more rock than soil so its unlikely to ever sprout more than weeds in our lifetimes.
My reclaims have lots of native grasses and weeds but the only tree you'll see is a sycamore or locust.
Same here, and like you said its as much rock as it is dirt. Some of ours are starting to grow some blackberries etc, but mostly it's weeds mixed with locusts.
Killed my first Ky grouse in 1965. As a teenager l rode to Black Mtn several time s to trap grouse with the Ky biologist who job was to catch birds to trade to other states for turkeys and deer.l suppose l was here and hunting at the apex of the grouse population in this area.
Since there have been a ton of posts on here about grouse decline causation (and the site search engine will turn them up-I just tried it) Im not going to rewrite my stuff here. The bottom line is that from the 60s to say 2005 +- there was always a good to great grouse population in southern appalachia. Today it appears to be teetering on( has arrived at ) devastation. Many here have seen some of the great past hunting. Few youngsters will.
i stayed in this region and took employment here so l could grouse hunt. l am today fairly bitter about where things are now -more for the birds than for the hunters and the dogs. What magnificent creatures and what a short shaft they are getting today. l consider myself fairly lucky to have seen it as good as it could be. No atvs, hawks, owls, yotes, fox, turkeys, deer, elk , skunk, possum, bobcats, west nile virus, ventricular worms, and no trailers or homes in every hollow ; limited access to much of the private lands by locked gates, continuous second growth from timbering and strip mining ceating ribbons of continuous interconnected new cover daily through out the the region. Those conditions won't return. Maybe the grouse won't either. Its way beyond a simple fix.
Something to chew on...
Last year on the last day of the season I was in a place moved 8 birds and killed the only one I shot at. During turkey season I hunted numerous times near this same cover and heard maybe one bird drumming, fast forward to this fall and I have yet to have a single flush in that cover.
I left at least 7 birds in there last February, and a year later there seems to be none. Habitat is a 8 year old cut with no changes since last year
Wow, great information guys. Exactly what I was looming for. I guess I'm just trying to be an optimist here and want to believe that it can't get any worse. That maybe the bird population will stabilize at a historical average. Off to see if I can find anything on Google about Grouse populations pre European settlement.....
Oh and trust me, there used to be a post office here in my hometown that I was in and out of as a kid. Its shutdown now but there was an aerial photo of the area hanging on the wall, it was taken somewhere around the mid forties I believe anyway it was exactly as you described there wasn't anything on the hills or in the hollers. Just pasture land and garden plots. That's what struck my intrigue about historical populations, grouse are a creature that benefit from man's manipulation of nature. There's just way less of that now.
Or Atleast it seems that way
Kentucky has over 1,300,000 acers of public land in what we call the grouse zone. I've grouse hunted eight different states and not one State had that much area to grouse hunt on. Each state that I've hunted have good and bad years for grouse numbers but what they do have is active grouse habitat programs.
When Heartwood closed federal land in Minnesota from cutting trees, their numbers dropped, when they started cutting again their numbers came back. Study after study shows that you have to manage the forest for grouse and you have to cut in areas where they live. Cutting on the hot side of a hollow in Kentucky doesn't get it. I'll agree with most of you on the other factors, but we've got to have quality habitat to over come some of those factors and we need to reduce all predators. Biologist are not sure why the northern states have what most of us call the cycle, there's as many opinions on that as there is on why our grouse numbers have dropped.
I'm not sure what the department has in mind but I'm going to show up and listen and help in anyway I can to see grouse numbers improve so my childern and grandchildern will have a chance to hunt grouse if they want too.
Ronnie - all you and the KGHA do is much appreciated.
I wonder if the first thing the department will suggest is to eliminate the february season. Ohio just did that a year ago. Near as l know there is no biological evidence that this early closure will make a difference, but it seems to be a popular quick fix conception that it helps the species somehow.
Any idea what may have caused such fantastic numbers in 2003-04? Do you remember anything related to food during the previous season 2002-03? For those of you who keep records, did anyone else experience a much higher flush rate for the 2003-04 season?
Only thing different back then was a lot of recent poplar cutting due to Trus Joist in Hazard buying all they could get back then. We had the same coyotes, turkeys, hawks and owls that we have now. Same food, cover, etc. Back then great cover had lots of birds, fair cover had birds, even bad cover had birds.
Our best was 2006-2008 I looked back at my journals and it was common for us to move 12-15 birds in a day, the cover we hunted IMO wasn't nearly as good nor as plentiful as what we have now. 2006 was by far the best year and that year there were heavy acorns and grapes according to my records.