Grouse Population

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

  1. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

    260
    7
    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    Hey folks,

    I hunt in Jackson County KY, primarily in the Mill Creek WMA. I have a gsp who has moved 3 birds in the last four outings. Total mileage is about sixteen miles. I am mainly hunting clearcut dense areas, this is where I see most of the birds. I may be hunting the same bird lol as the land is within the 20-50 acre habitat a grouse will stay in. When I moved here in the early 90"s they (KDFW) were trapping and trading the grouse to missouri for turkeys, go figure. What is noteworthy is that in past years of bowhunting these areas were thick with turkeys too. Now I'm amazed when I find an area on a ridge top that has been cleared of food by turkeys. They are all competing for the same food and when turkeys are residing in this area it causes great alarm. I believe the requirement is (1) acorn bearing tree per acre so if we have a bad mast year it effects all the game in that particular area. Also, I have not heard of anyone through my friends or online that actively still hunt for the elusive bird. I am nearing 50 and it's getting difficult but I love the time in the woods and watching my girl find birds. As they say a bad day of hunting is still better than a work day :) It does not seem to be a priority within the KDFR to bring the birds habitat back through selective logging. So to answer your question, I agree that birds are not what they use to be? Hope this helps
     
  2. Sialia67

    Sialia67 6 pointer

    253
    3
    Sep 4, 2008
    Rowan County
    One of the biggest revelations from the Appalachian grouse study was the very low survival of grouse broods. After hatching, grouse chicks disappeared fast due to predators and the weather especially during that first week. Just 1 of 5 (22%) chicks made it to 35 days of age in the Appalachians. Survival of northern grouse chicks was substantially higher based upon several studies. Broods need good herbaceous ground cover where insects are abundant in conjunction with overhead cover. In eastern Ky brood habitat usually occurs in moist bottomland sites and moist hillsides where ground cover and overhead cover come together. So in addition to creating more young forest habitat on the WMAs, we need to specifically create good brood habitat adjacent to and within the high stem density forest cover.
     
  3. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

    260
    7
    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    I can remember when the KDFR would plant non native food crops on WMA and as a bow hunter I relished seeing all the game species partaking It's difficult to see the numbers deli line and cost of licensure increase. When I lived in Colorado 20 years ago you could actually see and feel what habitat was improved whether it was in the ground blinds on state game lands or coop crp fields. Always had places to hunt and find game.


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  4. Sialia67

    Sialia67 6 pointer

    253
    3
    Sep 4, 2008
    Rowan County
    A second revelation was the connection between food and grouse numbers. First, a grouse that does not have to move much to eat has better survival. Second, a hen that has access to an abundant, high quality food source prior to egg-laying has healthier chicks that can survive weather events better after hatching. A fat hen can also lay a second clutch of eggs if the first clutch is destroyed by a predator. During the first 5 years of the study, we averaged catching about 20 grouse each September and October. At the start of the 6th year or Fall of 2001, we caught 75 grouse in 7 weeks while trapping in the same locations. The difference was a heavy and widespread beechnut crop in the Fall of 2000. Hens were able to fill up on beechnuts all winter long and through March 2001 prior to egg-laying in April. All of the hens that lost their first clutch of eggs in 2001 re-nested!! Just one hen re-nested in the previous 5 years.

    What happened to all those extra grouse in the fall of 2001 and winter of 2002? Most of them dispersed into low quality habitat because there was not enough good grouse cover to hold them all (at least at Yatesville Lake WMA in Lawrence County). The hawks ate well that winter because the birds that were stuck in small, low-quality habitat patches became easy prey.

    Heavy beechnut crops occur once every 5 to 10 years (2000, 2008, 2013). A rainy, cool spring can ruin the positive impact of beechnuts as occurred in 2009. Is there a food source out there that can fill the gap in years when beechnuts do not produce? Acorns can help but the population response does not seem to match that which occurs after a beechnut crop. From a habitat improvement viewpoint, I'm not sure there is anything that we can plant in connection with habitat creation to make a real difference in food quality for grouse. I plan to add hawthorns, various dogwoods, and Allegheny chinquapins (Castanea pumila) to some young forest patches to supplement food.
     
  5. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

    260
    7
    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    Thank you for your information. I know it's a multi-faceted and complex issue. You have enlightened me on the importance of good cover. I have read that when the government or state clearcut that it provide up to 8 years of food supplies. In our area the forestry department was heading toward litigation if KDFR didn't stop planting non native in the Daniel Boone but in doing so it decreased the habitat and availability if mast crops dependence issues arose shortly thereafter. Thanks for your work on this as there are not many bird hunters in my area. I don't see hunters in the woods at all because they would rather hunt in another state. Hopefully it comes back before I'm too old to brave te thickets and watch my dog work


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  6. CSS archer

    CSS archer BBBC Members

    4,728
    12
    Dec 13, 2001
    Central KY
    Just to clarify your comment about grouse being traded to MO. That is not true. Grouse were being trapped and restored in areas of suitable habitat just beyond the existing range to restore them statewide where habitat existed. Success was poor with habitat decreasing rapidly and being scattered. The grouse restoration project was terminated around 1996-7 grouse were released in Owen, Henry, Hardin and a few others.. LBL and Fort Knox were stocked with grouse in the 70's and early 80's
     
  7. Bee

    Bee 10 pointer

    1,486
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    Mar 14, 2005
    I was a tag along in the mid 60s with the biologist in Ky who trapped grouse (primarily from Black Mtn area )for relocation to the Ky counties mentioned above. Using wire "walk in" traps near drumming log areas or under where we simply saw birds perched in roost trees at daylight and dark we caught a good number of birds. Some of you folks who go to WISC annually need to start trapping a few to bring back home to repopulate the mountains....:)
     
  8. agr_hunter

    agr_hunter 6 pointer

    308
    1
    Nov 30, 2005
    Over the Hill
    Why can't we trap Northern Grouse for Kentucky?
     
  9. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

    260
    7
    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    Thanks for the clarification, this information is helpful. Is selective logging a feasibility and does it increase habitat too. Open canopies in the hard woods would be a way to foster more sustainable food/shelter? Just wondering how that impacts our grouse too?


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  10. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Greenup, ky, USA.
    There is a huge mortality rate on ruffed grouse . So much so it isn't even feasible to pen raise them.

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  11. birdshooter

    birdshooter 6 pointer

    234
    8
    Jan 22, 2012
    Greenup Ky
    What about hazel nuts, I have been planting seedlings for the past 2 years in hopes this may be an additional food source. The areas I hunt up north has several hazel nut trees and the grouse seems to love them. If hazel nuts are helpful they anyone can get them in the spring for free, the more of us that plant them the faster the results will be.
     
  12. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    1,242
    Jan 19, 2004
    Greenup, ky, USA.

    How are the chestnuts coming along ? I assume they would be a lifesaver for all the animals including grouse . If I'm thinking correct they produce every year also don't they?


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  13. Bee

    Bee 10 pointer

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    Mar 14, 2005
    """""Hopefully it comes back before I'm too old to brave te thickets and watch my dog work"""




    Mr Wild----when you get that old you are too old period!!!! you never get too old to watch a good dog work.
     
  14. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

    260
    7
    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    This is true bee, hope my Bella lives as long as I plan on god willing! She is such a hard workin dog


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  15. CSS archer

    CSS archer BBBC Members

    4,728
    12
    Dec 13, 2001
    Central KY
    Selective cutting doesn't yield the high stem densities of regrowth that clearcutting does. The high stem densities are what protect them from predators. Food sources are plentiful with lots of ragwort, , grapes, blueberry, greenbriar in heavily cut areas.

    Northern grouse have been tried here, they failed.

    My first job with KDFWR was trapping grouse, 1989. We trapped them in August, September, October when the broods were dispersing. Most of the birds trapped were juveniles. When a bird was caught, it was released the next day. The manhours to relocate grouse is enormous. I think at that time it was costing around $500 a bird to move, at the end of the project it was over $1000..

    The ultimate lesson here is the importance of habitat quality, linkage and abundance, mortality is high on grouse in good habitat, it is certain death in poor habitat. Heartwood, the treehuggers have hurt KY grouse more than anything, due to the change in management and "political correctness"
     

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