Grouse Population

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

  1. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

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    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    I must admit I am shocked at the cost . CSC so the outlook for a sustainable population is grim at best. I'm wondering what the difference is up north or is it the same just higher numbers? I am originally from PA and remember hunting blue grouse in numbers were high. I've hunted sage grouse in Colorado which were not a challenge at all so different than what I've hunted here? I read about grouse hunting in places like New Hampshire or Maine and it's crazy up there with the numbers


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  2. Sialia67

    Sialia67 6 pointer

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    Rowan County
    Hazelnuts are a great shrub for grouse from both a food and cover perspective. The male flowers or catkins hanging on the hazelnuts in February and March are as important for food as the nuts are in late summer. The Kentucky Division of Forestry offers hazelnuts through their nurseries (http://forestry.ky.gov/STATENURSERIESANDTREESEEDLINGS/Pages/default.aspx). A bundle of 100 one-year old seedlings costs $38.00. A bundle of 100 two-year old hazelnuts costs $48.00. You can save the $15.00 shipping fee and pick them up at the Morgan County Nursery if you live close enough.

    There are at least 2 strategies for planting the hazelnuts to benefit grouse. First, you could plant a lot of them in patches within or adjacent to good grouse cover. The idea would be to give grouse an abundant food source where they can get in, fill up, and get back out into cover in the shortest amount of time. Of course the hazelnuts provide good cover if they are planted close together. The second option would be to scatter them all over a regenerating hillside where grouse could access them once the cover develops. Planting in clearcuts within one or two growing seasons after the cut should give the hazelnuts a chance to compete and produce food before eventually being shaded out by the growing trees.
     
  3. CSS archer

    CSS archer BBBC Members

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    Dec 13, 2001
    Central KY
    They are sustainable, they just aren't abundant enough here to encounter a lot of birds.

    The northern ruffed grouse has the luxury of snow roosting, where they fly into the snow and roost at warmer temps and out of sight of avian predators. Our birds are burning precious fat reserves sitting on a limb in the only clump of pines or hemlock around when we have single digit temps.

    Having adult birds increase survival and go into breeding as healthy as possible is key to large clutches of young and again the spring early summer weather has to be decent.
     
  4. ril7572

    ril7572 Cyber-Hunter

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    This seems to be a common thread with grouse hunters.
    What do you suggest the Department do to improve grouse hunting in Kentucky?
     
  5. trust me

    trust me Troubled Loner

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    Jerkwater, KY
    All that they really can do is create habitat on state-managed areas. After many years and much teeth gnashing, that is finally happening in the last year or so. Not in areas that benefit me personally, but at other places, and it's being done by KDFWR people that know grouse and what they need. Fingers crossed...
     
  6. Sialia67

    Sialia67 6 pointer

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    Sep 4, 2008
    Rowan County
    One of my long term goals is to shoot a grouse with a crop full of chestnuts. I may not live that long. Chestnuts could eventually be a game-changer for all of our forest wildlife. Just 80 years ago chestnuts were an abundant and almost annual food source in Kentucky's forest. The Alice Loyd of Pippa Passes, Ky in Knott County wrote a letter to a friend in 1929 lamenting the loss of her "once splendid chestnut grove."

    The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) produced about 80,000 of their potentially blight resistant nuts in 2012 at their SW Virginia research farms. I have not heard the number for 2013 yet. These nuts are referred to as Restoration Chestnuts rather than American chestnuts because they are 1/16th Chinese or about 94% American, not full American. From a genetics theory perspective, all of the Restoration chestnuts were supposed to inherit all of the blight resistance of the Chinese tree. But the majority are only moderately blight resistant, which is not good enough. The scientists believe that the Chinese tree has 3 chromosomes for resistance but the American can only accept 2 of those chromosomes or something like that. I got a "C" in genetics so don't ask me any questions. So the TACF has gone back into the seed-producing orchards and selected only the most blight-resistant parents to cross-pollinate with each other to produce the seeds for restoration. We should know soon (1-3 years) how that works. In the meantime, many of the potentially blight-resistant nuts have been planted on national forests throughout the southeast for testing.
     
  7. birdshooter

    birdshooter 6 pointer

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    Jan 22, 2012
    Greenup Ky
    Question just to keep things going. Do any of you believe that the reason for the loss of grouse is do from turkey and that reason could be when the turkey were introduced they carried some kind of disease or parasite that wiped the grouse out. With that said, my question do you think this cold blast will help kill out that disease and help the remaining grouse next year. The only big difference up north as to here is the weather and the amount of snow fall each year. What do you all think?
     
  8. trust me

    trust me Troubled Loner

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    Jerkwater, KY
    My area had a bumper crop of grouse in the 2003-2004 season. Me and 4 other friends totaled 115 birds that season. During that grand time, we had plenty of cover, plenty of turkeys, plenty of bobcats and coyotes, all the same things we experience today with only a fraction of the grouse now. Yes, we still have good cover. I stomped around several acres of it Saturday and never saw a feather, whereas that same type of cover would have held at least a couple of birds in the past.

    It may be internal parasites; that has been studied before and is thought to be the cause of the 10 year cycle. Nevertheless, there's something else going on. I wish the situation could be studied to find out what it is.
     
  9. Bee

    Bee 10 pointer

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    Birdshooter, a parasite or disease from turkeys (or alternatively avian flu?)is something l would hope would have been discovered by some biologist in appalachia in the last decade.

    l sincerely believe there are turkey impacts as l stated in my earlier post in this thread. But l think the decline is a result of many factors that have created a perfect storm to negatively impact grouse. Frankly there is so much cutover and second growth (100,000s acres+++) in southeastern Ky, east Tenn, and SW va that l do not think it is a vegative (stem density)tissue.

    Here is my negative impact list, in no order: avian predators (when l was young the chicken house in the mtns was sacred ground and hawks -owls etc were shot on sight); ground predators FERAL CATS, COONS, SKUNKS, YOTES, ; four wheelers shooting grouse year round; turkey eating out prime winter habitat forcing grouse to the less than ideal covers and impacting breeding weights of hens; loss of mast trees generally (at the least age class that is acorn or nut bearing); lack of mast bearing trees in mine reclamation areas -all softwood; maturation of surface mine reclaimed areas of 1960s to 2000s to mature softwood trees; successive years of bad rain events followed by record cold temps at hatch times; lack of young pine cover in mine reclamation areas(old pine stands being avaian predator death traps for grouse, while young pines offer safe grouse friendly winter cover).

    I will also say that the boom in the grouse population in the 70s through 90s was perhaps the largest grouse population in history in appalachia, IMO resulting from all the continuous interlocking habitat created by surface mine disturbances and resulting second growth from reclamation plantings, and earlier in that period of decades, the absence of ground, avian predators, four wheelers, and mast consuming deer populations like we currently have. This may not be a universal issue but l do know that some incredibly productive covers were devastated by heavy elk grazing where all young trees in hundreds of acres were pruned of young limbs up to @ ten ft height or as high as elk mouth could reach so the understory was wide open and park like which again is an avian death trap for grouse.

    The impact of all these many factors is what l think got the grouse southern appalachian grouse to it s present day state. So what can state agencies do about this? That would be a very long discussion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  10. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

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    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    Interesting to say the least, you push on one side of the ballon and it effects the other side?


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  11. ril7572

    ril7572 Cyber-Hunter

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    Ky..
    Birdman, ribsplitter?? Anyone else?
     
  12. msu_hunter

    msu_hunter 6 pointer

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    Oct 23, 2011
    I would very much like to know this as well. I mean I understand that most of the land in Kentucky is privately owned but how about WMA's? Why isn't there more going on by the state to manage for Grouse in these public areas? The closest WMA to me is Dewey lake and it is mostly all mature hardwoods with very little suitable habitat.
     
  13. ribsplitter

    ribsplitter Cyber-Hunter

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    Greenup, ky, USA.
    If its such a common thread it would lead me to think there must be a problem. As for what to do about it . A good start would be to at least have our WMA's be a show piece instead of embarrassment.. Would be nice to have more than one or two employees that know what small game is also. Its really not that hard you can go in any direction from here and learn . There's more to it than turning a few cattle loose on a reclaim and daring anyone to kill one lol. Kdfwr has some honest, hardworking ,knowledgeable people but I'm afraid too many that are there for nothing more than a status ,power trip, or agenda. I've watched it for 40 years and I figure nothing will change some seem to be tickled to death with status quo.

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  14. wildirishman64

    wildirishman64 6 pointer

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    Dec 21, 2013
    Owsley County KY
    I agree with his frustration. Hunting fees increase and game decreases. When I was an active member if NRA you could see and hear what improvements were being made. Even in my home state of PA they were ahead of the curve back in the 70'a and 80's. 5000 non-altered deer were killed in the county that I lived in and about the same numbers for antlered so it can be done. KDFR does a nice job within fisheries department but it boils down to leadership and money.


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  15. birdshooter

    birdshooter 6 pointer

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    Jan 22, 2012
    Greenup Ky
    I personally would like this to be a mandate to the new commissioner whoever is hired by the department. I would like to see a legitimate study on the grouse for the solution to this problem. The money needs to be funded to accomplish the goal. Millions of dollars has been spent studying quail and all of the reports are about the same, therefor do whats been recommended and quit wasting money on quail studies. Also I would like to see the large and small game biologist working together to reach this goal. If this department truly wants to be a wildlife leader, there's no game species that they could concentrate on that could achieve any higher reward for the sportsmen than finding the cause for this problem.
     

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