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Thread: Where have all the grouse gone?

  1. #41
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10x View Post
    All were on the population cycle and all peaked about the same time every seven years or so, and then the populations would crash. Likely from predators. Canadian fur trade records going back almost 300 years indicate that the lynx - rabbit population cycle are related.
    I heard about this just yesterday.

    These cycles are pretty basic as habitat increases, the prey animals increase, as the prey animals increase the predators increase, as the predators increase the prey animals decrease when the prey animals decrease the predators decrease. There is some illnesses/parasites that can also decrease the population of prey species.
    With that said, you could kill all the predators if the habitat can't support a given species they can't live there.
    Predators on the other hand will change their focus to a different species.

    Biologists can determine the amount of food per acre in pounds a given landscape provides. Increasing food, removing non-native plants, re-introducing native vegetation. This increased habitat will increase not only the species there already but will attract new species.


    Dynamics of Predation: https://www.nature.com/scitable/know...tion-13229468/

  2. #42
    Boolit Master
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    I've watched the whole series from some of the best hunter's I've seen, Steven Rinella, Ryan Callaghan and Mark Kenyon of The Meateater brand. The series is called The Back 40...A Small Property With A Big Vision. The concept of the series is buying an old farm property of 64 acres and increasing the habitat to increase the amount & quality of animals it holds. In doing so, increasing your hunting success of several game species. At the end of a year or so of habitat improvement & some hunting for their video series they are giving the property away. This series takes you to the property, discusses land management, takes you through the thoughts and processes as well as shows several hunts on the property. So far it's an 8 part series that run less than 20 min each.

    "MeatEater:
    We bought a farm. Sixty-four acres of possibilities in the heart of Michigan with the potential to become the perfect wildlife haven and deer hunting spot. In the first episode of the show, Steven Rinella and Mark Kenyon lay out a plan to turn this run-of-the-mill chunk of dirt into prime habitat for everything from whitetails, to squirrels, to pollinators. Along the way they find out exactly what kind of property they now own, and how much work it's going to take to transform it into something more. Follow along all season to see if Kenyon and crew can tackle this tall task."

    Check out the first episode if your interested in learning more about habitat improvement on your property.
    https://youtu.be/nOHFTvDmsbE?list=PL...cGLEnSZXCZPaLb

    The best part of the MeatEater series are they aren't filled with commercials, product placement & the shows don't feel like an infomercial.

    These guys are the real deal. The pedigree of some of the contributers

    Steven Rinella is the host of the Netflix Original series MeatEater and The MeatEater Podcast. He's also the author of six books dealing with wildlife, hunting, fishing and 2 wild game cookbooks.

    Ryan Callaghan is MeatEater's Director of Conservation and a member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, as well as a national board member. Ryan has been a passionate member of the outdoor community, having grown up hunting and fishing, guiding, and playing in the West.

    Mark Kenyon is the author of That Wild Country, founder of Wired To Hunt, and host of the industry-leading Wired To Hunt Podcast. He is a nationally published writer, a QDMA certified Deer Steward, and MeatEater's resident "whitetail guy."

    Ben O’Brien is a writer, editor, host of The Hunting Collective podcast, a member of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Board of Directors, and MeatEater’s Director of Hunting.

    Remi Warren has been hunting his entire life and is passionate about sharing his knowledge and adventures with others. When not guiding or filming, Remi works as a field editor for Western Hunter Magazine, co-hosts Solo Hunter TV, and is the host of the Cutting the Distance podcast.

    Patrick Durkin Outdoors writer/editor, weekly columnist for 17 Wisconsin newspapers, regular contributor to American Hunter magazine, and former editor of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine.
    Last edited by NyFirefighter357; 05-29-2020 at 01:05 AM.

  3. #43
    Boolit Buddy
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    As others have mentioned, twenty years ago, I used to kick grouse up even when I wasn't trying. Wasn't nothing to jump a half dozen a day while squirrel hunting in the northern panhandle of WV/NE Ohio. They were everywhere. I haven't seen a grouse for four years.. last sighting was two crossing a rural road that ran through the WMA while I was passing through working. Same with Pheasants aside from the ones that get stocked each year.

    Everyone blames coyotes, and I agree they take their toll, but I will add an unchecked raccoon population plays a roll as well, especially as it pertains to egg eating. To say that Raccoons are overpopulated is a gross understatement.

  4. #44
    Boolit Man
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    Our local game warden said that west Nile virus is killing all of the Grouse. I blame the friends of animals/peta and the like. fourty years ago when fur prices were good there was an army of people trapping and running coon hounds to catch raccoons. now no one bothers as there is no money in it. coons, possums, hawks, Eagles ,owls and coyotes are everywhere and the Grouse are gone.

  5. #45
    Boolit Master
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    I have also wondered about West Nile and our dwindling bird populations, also a lack of insects. I still trap coons to keep them from over running the place, but it doesn't help much when none of the other farmers control theirs. Our state still has a bounty on them, but until fur becomes valuable, they will be a huge nesting problem.

  6. #46
    Boolit Bub
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    Same situation in Alabama. Like others, grew up hunting small game as deer were rarely seen. Was nothing to kill a rabbit or two in less than an hour. Nowadays one hardly sees a rabbit much less,quail. For too long almost all predators in Alabama were protected except for trapping. Conservation Dept finally realized trapping was not taking enough so legalized year round open season except raptors. Needless to say, we have a bumper crop of raptors with bald and golden eagles now being seen regularly as well.

  7. #47
    Boolit Master
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    Raccoons, skunks & opossums are the nest raiders. No one around here ever hunted or trapped much of them here & I'd say the numbers are much lower since they can't get in to the new style garbage cans issued here. I haven't seen a raccoon or skunk in my yard in about 15 yrs but I do still so the occasional opossum. We have a very large red tailed hawk population also. I watched either a Great Horned Owl or Barred Owl wreak havoc on the squirrel population on my hunting property.

  8. #48
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    Don’t forget cats, both domestic and feral. They kill just for the sport of it.

  9. #49
    Boolit Master
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    Lets clear one thing up we are not talking about a group of birds in a area of say 300 acres. We are talking extinction. Of these birds in a given region. In Western PA (Beaver, Lawrence, Washington, Crawford, Mercer, Butler and Erie. I have scouted as much as 40 to 50 acres a day. Looking for places to hunt ducks. Some as thick you have to walk around to find a way to push through. I telling you the grouse are gone!! O !! zero !! none!! There is no chance of recovery.

    They are too hard to raise to release. I looked into this back in the early 90's when I happened a long some chicks. They are all but impossible to get large enough to let loose. We had a family friend that had all types of birds and Ruffed Grouse is one that they told me was hard to raise. They would not waste there time on them, even if I paid them, they said you would be unhappy and we are tell you as a friend, no way.

    This all know after raising animals; if there is an other animal that eat what you trying to grow, or organism ( chemical or organic) and you don't stop or control it your not going to be successful growing and raising it, them etc. You can have the best ground but if you don't weed it your not going to get a good end product.

    Weeds in a garden.
    Weeds in a field crop.
    Chickens in pasture type of raising, if not covered and protected from all sides. The predatory animals are there until gone. You can have a 1000 birds and if not protected from predators they gone in short order.
    There is no way to pasture raise anything that something else can get without protection from them. I don't care what type of cover you have, they have to leave it some time.

    Lets look at a Red Tailed Hawk on a large group of pheasants. The hawk eats mice, snakes, insects, rabbits, any other birds or babies of animals it can find, catch or carry. Now look at effect they have on pheasants. Say there is a place that is holding a large group of pheasants. Say 25 pheasants. this thick no way for the Hawk(s) to get to them. We get a snow fall of about 4 inches we are now in first of January. Most of what this hawk eats is under the snow. Pheasant now are one of the only feed source that this on bird has. The hawk is burning energy just to keep warm. The pheasant too must get or die. As days go by the hawk fights for this right to hunt this area with other hawks, say a pair and even it own mate. On average they find some smaller birds and maybe a few mice but they hunt the pheasant daily. Okay say they the Red Tails only get 3 a week between the group. Lets say the coyotes get one a week, as the pheasants are out looking for the food they need. Red fox or gray fox gets 1 a month. Say 10 percent get sick or weakened by February and are slower then normally they would be. So numbers are getting eaten and by what?? Anything and everything, they only can rest at night in the the thicket and at that only in some what of a protected area. Because now we add into this this a mink, a few weasels, on nice warmer days maybe a 40 deg warm spell a few coons go hunting, yes the opossum. Lets us not for get the other birds of that eat them. Bald Eagles for now the river is starting to ice up. Let not for get to add to the list other hawk and owls that can and do eat pheasants. At now an average of 5 a week die how long is it before they are all dead. Adding to this for the 25 birds this would have meant that 20 to 30 hens must nest to get these numbers. As if I recall 40 % to 60% of nests fail (of these 10 of hens die). Of the chicks that hatch 75 % of these don't make it to the first winter.

    On this note I spoke to the neighbor this week she said that the hen turkeys are so low in number. Toms out number them by 3 to one. I'm thinking that the small birds are falling prey to the predators. Larger toms are just little too big for them. Maybe the end is in sight for these birds to. If enough larger predators find a food source then there days are numbered. As of right now I think I' reaching a little bit on this but I can see it happening. If they are and numbers get lower and lower then we are 10-15 years away from loosing them also. Only reason we have turkeys is because they are large enough that they are not prey.

    Grouse and Pheasant don't live in a hole. Only have one nest a year, 5-7 chicks if you will. Not like rabbits that have (liter) nests 3-4 times a year.

    You will never see Ruffed Grouse again. Sad sad truth and most professionals have there head in the sand and or too close to the woods to see the trees. I spoke to a farmer late 80's-early 90's that explained to me he watched the stock pheasants each winter go into the thicket below his house and the red tails would set hours on end waiting form them to leave. He said 70-80 % of the time they killed one. It was like a walk of death for the pheasants. Always by March and sometimes February they were all gone. He said if they only were not there they may make a come back, but they just don't have a chance. He said he had watched this for 5 years in a rows. One year he was not able to count the pheasants but he knew there were 3 main groups, again they got every last one.

  10. #50
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripplebeards View Post
    I have an incubator. Id like to raise some and let them go. It looks like eggs are worth the price of gold if you can find them.
    If you do find out how and are able to let me know, I would be interested in this. I know of about 4 different areas I would love to stock Grouse.

    Here they would need to be West Nile virus resistant, as they finally found that this weakens them, if not out right kills them. If I recall back in the late 80's I was told there are no ways to effectively raise Ruff Grouse.

    Was not too many years after this we stop hunting them.

    I maybe able to stock as many as 10 areas they would have about 5-10 acres of dense cover. I'm talking not able to walk. Have an other areas that are also in this close range. These are what I call walk able thickets were you can walk but still enough cover that would be hard to shoot at a flushing bird. Habitat is here there just in not any birds.

  11. #51
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    I imagine we lost a lot of grouse and turkey this last weekend. .8" of rain in 5 minutes.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  12. #52
    Boolit Buddy
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    I believe that Mr. NyFirefighter has hit the nail on the head: proper habitat is the limiting factor for wildlife populations. If the grouse have this then they can find their preferred food, be protected adequately from predators, and survive through severe winters. I think grouse like the pioneer-type vegetation of aspens, birch, various shrubs etc., however forests tend to mature into big trees that don't support the birds real well. So the areas which held lots of grouse 40 years ago may be different places than they used to be. It may be that fires and timber harvesting are needed to return the woods back to non-mature forests in order to better accommodate grouse. Best of luck with hunting though. Bob

  13. #53
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    In Michigan it was coyotes. Seems the same now that I'm retired in rural Ohio.
    Eleutheromaniac

  14. #54
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I believe I have a massive predator problem. I normally see three or more raccoon every night bow hunting. In the last 15 years I’ll see coyotes pretty often as well. I’ve arrowed a good half dozen Yotes while bow hunting. I did some research and in my state we can remove unlimited numbers of nuisance animals year around with or without a license if your a property owner. I have had NUISANCE raccoons living in my hunting shack and dropping duces all over the steps and platform so imo it was a good excuse to start doing a little predator management. All the egg eaters on on the list we can remove legally year around. Raccoons, possum, skunk, coyote, fox, ect. I set a few traps in the last week and removed 10 raccoon and one possum so far. In the process I kept jumping a woodcock. I’d get a few feet from it and it would jump up and fly. I’ve only seen a woodcock twice out here since the early 70’s and I’ve jumped this one four times now. Yesterday I had two babies fly up in front of me and one literally bumped my chest when it flew straight up. My traps are spaced out 25 yards from the birds. I’m sure the coons were in there looking for them. Hopefully my efforts will keep them around and increase turkeys nesting on my property again. I don’t buy the rain thing biologists keep putting the blame on. I own a ridge top where I’ve seen many turkeys nest on in the past. There are way to many raccoon in my area eating the eggs. Same where I live. I had tons of baby ducks all over the place in the 70’s growing up on a riverfront property. The last 20 years you maybe see one batch of ducks now. There are tons of raccoons, possum, and red fox in the neighborhood currently. There are even mink now. There we’re zero in the 70’s. Back I. The 70’s and 80’s the neighbor at the end of the Avenue owned bear dogs and let them run the island that was connected to own street and cleaned off all the egg eaters. He passed years ago which explains the Increase in predators and decrease in ducks. It would rain cats and dogs and the ducks had zero problems with there nests.

    I’ll keep leaving the traps out till the well runs dry.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 07-04-2020 at 08:28 AM.

  15. #55
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    My egg eater count is slowing way down. I checked traps today and nothing touched any of them. I had something tear out of one of my have a heart live traps and one dog proof foot trap on last week. I would expect those were probably raccoons. I’m guessing both won’t be dumb enough to get caught again. So far a dozen nuisance raccoons and one possum. I jumped my three resident baby woodcock like clockwork again while checking my traps today. I believe I kept them around by cleaning shop. Never had woodcock before on a consistent basis. When leaving my property I slammed on the brakes about 2/3 miles down the road...a huge bobcat ran in front of me! First bobcat I’ve seen in my area. I’ve suspected that eventually they would work their way down to the southern tip of WI where my property is. Guess they are on my property now and another contender for turkeys. I’ve seen tracks in other areas where I hunt about 15 miles away about 15 years ago so I knew there were a few around.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 07-11-2020 at 08:51 PM.

  16. #56
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    Everything others have said is valid. In Michigan the largest thing that I don't see or hear, anymore is insects. Game birds, like chickens peck at anything moving. Insects made up a huge part of the diet of baby game birds. That's most of what they ate until seeds were available later in the year.

  17. #57
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Another coon today. I might have to move my traps to another area on my property if it starts to dry up.

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