Grouse Population

Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by hitch, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. hitch

    hitch 10 pointer

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    Jan 16, 2008
    I am completely bamboozled by what myself and he guys I hunt with are experiencing so far this season. At the end of last year many of the covers if not all that we hunt routinely all had good numbers of birds. The last 20 hunts or so, we averaged moving around 8 birds a trip. The most we took from any one cover was 2 birds as we try to always leave as many unharmed as possible to ensure good hunting for future seasons.

    So far this season has been a total bust. Today we hunted a place where last year on our last hunt in there we moved 8 birds in one afternoon and killed one. Today Zero, and this has been the norm all season so far. Places where birds were plentiful last year, there are none to be found. We turkey hunt in these same areas and there were plenty of drumming birds last spring. The habitat literally could not be any better as well.

    My question to the guys on here with far more years under their belt than me, is simple. What in the world is going on?

    Are the birds concentrated in some random food source (beech nuts, acorns) which has pulled them from their normal haunts?

    Did something happen which wiped out the population?

    I'm not one to believe in disease etc, but this bizarre and I have no answers as to what's going on.
     
  2. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    Greenup, ky, USA.
    Its been that way here since around 2000-2002 . I have no clue what's happened the only thing I he found that made any since to me was possibly stomach worm . I don't waste my time with anything but prime cover anymore so that isn't the issue . I think it has a lot to do with kdfwr really hasn't gave a $#@# for decades for any small game just contributed to the problem . Hell I still don't think they realize there's a problem or really care. But hey we got a huge elk herd did you know.
     
  3. Quailtail

    Quailtail Spike

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    Oct 3, 2006
    Versailles KY
    Maybe they are trapping the grouse again and this time going to trade them for some mountain goats.

    The dept is making a big deal out of the quail at peabody this year. The land has been laying down there for years and years. What have they been doing?
     
  4. Birdman

    Birdman Cyber-Hunter

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    Feb 26, 2002
    Paintsville, KY, USA.
    I've only been out three time for a total of 9 hours. Within that time period I've seen one woodcock and hell only knows how many turkeys. I've tried to get grouse hunters to stand up for years and get the department help with this problem. There's been a few help but it's like most hunters are afraid to piss someone off. Good luck getting an answer to your question. There is a group of hunters trying to help their called The KENTUCKY GROUSE HUNTERS ASSOCIATION, their website is kygrousehunters.com if you would like to help give them a look.
     
  5. Sialia67

    Sialia67 6 pointer

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    Sep 4, 2008
    Rowan County
    I hope it is a distribution issue rather than a numbers issue Hitch. It would be interesting to know if they are clustered around beech groves in your area. Disease is always a possibility. West Nile Virus has been documented in ruffed grouse in other eastern states. My small circle of hunting connections have been finding birds in the counties that they hunt.
     
  6. hitch

    hitch 10 pointer

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    Jan 16, 2008
    I just can't make my simple brain accept that the population has completely nose dived here in 12 months. One thing on the West Nile stuff, this has been the wettest year on record I believe, or close to it. I know during Turkey season the mosquitoes were miserable, I guess it is possible that with the torrential rains we had all summer that the birds were exposed to more mosquitoes then normal and thus could suffer a higher mortality rate. However, I just can't see it wiping them out completely. I could see it knocking them down by 50% or so, but not entirely. What we are seeing is essentially zero birds.

    Hunted another one of our A+++ spots today which hasn't been hit this year, and came up with zero points, flushes, or sightings. This place usually has lots of turkeys around it, and there was no signs of them either.

    It will be interesting to see as winter progresses if the birds don't start appearing seemingly from nowhere, or if this trend continues. Next time I go, I'm going to try something completely random as the pole timber/briar hells/grapevine thicket/honeysuckle jungles aren't providing anything but tired legs and shredded skin.
     
  7. Quailtail

    Quailtail Spike

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    Oct 3, 2006
    Versailles KY
    I am a member and they have got balls. Their voices reach all the way to Frankfort. Speaking of Frankfort, they need a good house cleaning in the DFW. Perhaps we should quit buying their license. Maybe they will see who is footing the bill and their paychecks.
     
  8. CSS archer

    CSS archer BBBC Members

    4,728
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    Dec 13, 2001
    Central KY
    Grouse are one of those species that a good reproductive year is necessary to find many birds. With the frequent rains we had this spring, into July, I would expect many failed nests and poor brood survival. A newly hatched chick easily succumbs to hypothermia. Grouse rarely renest if ever.

    Mature birds tend to run and flush to safety with the slam of a truck door or beep of a collar... It may be a rough year as the annual natural mortality of grouse is close to 80%.
     
  9. Quailtail

    Quailtail Spike

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    Oct 3, 2006
    Versailles KY
    There is always an excuse as to why there are not any rabbits, quail or grouse anymore. Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too many cloudy days, too many sunny days. Always too much of something.

    When the problem is too many turkeys, too many hawks, too many cyotes, too many possums, too many coons. Too many Department of Fish and Wildlife people that don't give a tinkers damn about the small game hunters that buy their license.
     
  10. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    Greenup, ky, USA.
  11. The shortage of Grouse, Quail and Rabbits is due to only one factor. The explosion in the KY Coyote population. It is the same in WV. At our hunting cabin in WV this summer, we heard three packs of coyotes on the hunt at the same time one evening. The Rabbits and ground nesting birds, and young deer are defenseless to these top predators. I have only seen one rabbit all year and have not seen a quail or grouse in more than 5 years. I know there are some left but their numbers are hurting.

    We have declared war on coyotes in my hunting grounds but they are tough to kill out. All KY hunters need to band together to eradicate these non native dogs.

    Irish
     
  12. birdshooter

    birdshooter 6 pointer

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    Jan 22, 2012
    Greenup Ky
    It amazes me that the official answer is always habitat and the timber business in down. I can believe that on federal and state because of the tree huggers. The part I don't understand is the private sector, there are (last time I checked) 26 licensed logging company's in Greenup County cutting timber. Every day I see several trucks hauling logs, so what about all of that habitat that has been made in the past few years. Could it be from the over grazing from an exploding deer herd that needs a shorter season to get more hunters in the woods at the same time or should I believe the wonderful excuse that the Ruff Grouse Biologist gave me " We have let the species get so low that there are not enough wilds birds left to populate the new growth"
     
  13. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Jan 19, 2004
    Greenup, ky, USA.

    Amazes me too because you and me both know its not the answer.
     
  14. hitch

    hitch 10 pointer

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    Jan 16, 2008
    Habitat certainly isn't the issue in this area there is enough timbering to last for decades of great grouse cover. With the war on coal raging lots of strip mine prep cuts have been allowed to mature as well.

    I don't believe coyotes are much of a threat to grouse, rabbits sure, but not the grouse IMO

    For the population to go from decent to good, and drop to nothing makes me think the birds are not in the places we are hunting. I feel they could be using some other food source now rather then their normal green forage which thrives in disturbed areas.
     
  15. buckeye bird hunter

    buckeye bird hunter Fawn

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    Oct 27, 2011
    I have heard all the same reasons but I also think the turkeys hurt the grouse and will never think any different I have been out six times this year anywhere from two to four hours without so much as a wild flush just three non productive points I hope something happens before the grouse are gone now I'm also hunting a young dog but he does have some idea about what he's doing
     

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