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Thread: Where have all the grouse gone?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Where have all the grouse gone?

    I’m in the southern the WI area and haven’t seen a ruffed grouse on my property in years. I had one that I would bump out of my pines on the way to my tree stand just about every time I walked past the area. I miss the drumming!!! Fourty years ago I could hear drumming all over the woods every fall while I was small game hunting. I never saw a coyote back then though. Now coyotes everywhere along with fox, coons, and hawks. The last couple of years I have seen a wood cock now and then which I never have in the past. I walked right past one within a few feet the other day and flushed it while I was turkey hunting. Normally if I see one it’s after they jumped a good 50 yards away in front of me. Maybe four sightings in the lat 20 years. My turkey population is on a big decline as well. I use to see a dozens of them every spring and fall in the late 80’s and 90’s....it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Gobbling everywhere!!! Not any more. All the WI DNR is worried about is the deer population because it’s the money maker imo. The DNR needs to start managing everything ACCEPT for the deer in my opinion. I have seen more deer and groups of bucks on velvet this spring while turkey hunting then ever before. I would assume all the deer I’ve seen are all the deer that hit in the miles of uncut corn last year. No one saw a deer last year during gun season around my area. They hid in the corn and went nocturnal imo. Now you watch...the DNR will cut way back on the deer limits. I was sent an email of a poll about not harvesting bucks in my area this year and eliminating the extra doe tags as well. I’ve seen more deer this spring turkey hunting than I’ve seen in decades during the spring.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 05-25-2020 at 06:46 PM. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
    white eagle's Avatar
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    grouse went down when we traded for turkeys
    I often thought that Turkeys were the ruin of the grouse population here in the southern part of the state
    it was nothing to bump grouse in the woods even in their down cycle but not any more
    I have owned my property for over 30 years and I have bumped 1 grouse the entire time I have owned it
    used to hunt the same area as a kid and grouse were everywhere
    as for the deer you can't blame uncut corn for not seeing deer if your farmers would drive out those fields the
    sightings would have been more can't blame a deer for not wanting to get shot
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    While it's a different bird it's a similar situation , here we have lost our quail over the last 20-30 years . I think it's due to the rise in the Fox population . The rabbit population seams a lot lower also .
    I talked to a couple farmers about trying to restock the quail a few years ago but it didn't pan out .

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I’ve hunted the same property since the early 70s and there were ruffed grouse like flies on it. No turkeys though till I saw my first one in 88’. The turkeys are on a massive decline in my area Imo. I believe all the egg eaters are to blame. I’ve shot quite a bit of coyotes during the spring season chasing turkeys off the field while trying to call them in the last 10 years as well. I even had a red fox run over and tackle my turkey decoy one spring a few years back. I had a huge red tail hawk dive bombEd my decoy the other day. It realized my decoy wasn’t a real turkey when it got within arms reach and veered away.

    I’ve raised ring neck pheasants and quail in the past and dump them out on the property. All I ended up doing was supplying food for the predators.

    I transported a couple of black squirrels I caught in my neighborhood last year and both of them are doing good. I see both of them every time I’m turkey hunting the last couple of weeks.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 05-25-2020 at 07:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    It might be time to look into predator hunting around here , but I just hate the through of shooting the critters just for trying to survive .

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have both ruffed Grouse and sharptailed Grouse on my property. The sharptailed grouse have been on an increase lately but I sure haven't been shooting as many ruffed. Grouse populations are cyclical but we never seem to get back to the 70's hey day numbers. I used to be easy to go for a short evening walk and shoot my 3 bird limit of ruffed grouse. As a high school kid my mother made the Best ruffed grouse and dumpling soup but that's another story.
    We have more cyotes, Bald eagles and Timber wolves in my area than ever before I'm sure thats part of it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Used to be lots of them upstate NY but I haven't seen one in 5 years. The spot that held them nearest me, is all houses now. The dog cries when I drive thru that area. On an encouraging note I did see ONE this spring. So few, I won't shoot them anymore...

  8. #8
    Boolit Master OldBearHair's Avatar
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    IMO coyotes need to be controlled. Here in Southeastern Texas, we have fire ants. I have been told that as ground nesting birds eggs begin to hatch, the fire ants kill the chicks before they get dried out.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I don't mean to nit pick, but I'd trade MN for WI DNR departments any day of the week. Yet both states have booming turkey populations. I won't say it is like fish in a barrel, but hunting opportunities in both states are better now than they have ever been in anyone's lifetime. I do agree we need to lay off the deer. Good god, I can't kick a bush without scaring 10 deer out. At least they are finally upping many parts of the state to 2 or 3 deer limits. I would have to think the turkeys are only low in your own limited area, they are plentiful in all of central MN and WI. I've got access to the family farm of about 400 acres just west of Alexandria, MN. Yet, I haven't turkey hunted it in many years. I only see a turkey on the place once a year. It isn't because Alexandria doesn't have turkeys, it is only that particular place. Other than farmland, it is swamp. Great duck and deer habitat, not so much for turkey. On top of that we either have tons of coyote, or tons of feral farm cats. You can never shoot enough, trapping is the only way to dent the problem. Yet drive 5 miles down the road, and you can find turkey heaven.

    As for grouse, I too have wondered that. Not just grouse. I also can't remember the last time I've seen a jack rabbit. Thankfully I believe ducks and geese to be on the upswing. It still boggles the mind how 2018 happened, and our DNR still maintained we were at high duck numbers. They either lie, or don't have accurate ways to measure.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Rabbits, quail, young turkeys.....none are safe from coyotes and THEY breed like the rabbits used to. There will be no return until the intrusive coyotes are eliminated. Open season, liberal bounties, poison, whatever it takes.
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  11. #11
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    In the 80s and 90s there where lots of grouse in the Zaleski State Forest in SE Ohio. The coyotes showed up in force around 2000 and the grouse were gone in a couple of years.

    BB

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master
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    haven't seen many coyote and thats my thing I like calling and hunting them
    I have thousands of acres of private land to hunt and lack of drummers is rampant
    just is weird not having grouse around something is out of balance
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy veeman's Avatar
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    I believe a big part is loss of habitat, and coyotes. Farmers don't have livestock anymore, so farmers don't have fence lines anymore, or hay fields. In my neck of the woods, 40 years ago, we had oodles of grouse and pheasants. We had dairy farmers too. All gone. Haven't hunted pheasants in 25 years or so because there aren't any to hunt.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogtamer View Post
    Rabbits, quail, young turkeys.....none are safe from coyotes and THEY breed like the rabbits used to. There will be no return until the intrusive coyotes are eliminated. Open season, liberal bounties, poison, whatever it takes.
    Yep. Killíem all...


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Here in Central WA I have a fair number of quail but that’s about it. We used to have lots of pheasant and some sage grouse. In the Cascade mountains we have a resurgent population of blue grouse.

    I have seen coyote populations go up and down depending on how well they are controlled. But I attribute the big pheasant and sage grouse decline more to ravines, crows, magpies, birds of prey, weasels, skunks and raccoon with the coyote not helping matters.

    Trust me I am not pro coyote either as they eat our baby calves when things get out of hand.

    Our habitat has not changed but the birds certainly have and dramatically.

    Think about it. There used to be a kid behind every bush with a small rifle aiming to bag a crow, ravine or magpie. There were even bounties paid in some locales. Hound people ran the coon, trappers worked over the coyotes, skunk and weasels. Every one with some chickens trimmed the birds of prey.

    I like the owls and hawks tuning up the gophers but they do not really put a dent in their population and I am just calling it like it is with respect to the game birds.

    I believe the “straw that broke the camels back” was the arrival of the crows and ravines however. I never, NEVER saw those two species as a kid. Then all of a sudden here they were and the pheasants weren’t! It has been said that when our County stopped burning garbage and went to burying it that brought the crows, ravines and also sea gulls (I do not think the gulls are a problem though).

    Three44s
    Last edited by Three44s; 05-26-2020 at 01:45 AM.
    Quit fretting about climate change. Itís how much stronger gravity is getting every day that is bothering me!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Well I live in southwest washington and always saw ravens in the high country of clark cowlitz skamania and klickitat counties , crows always as a kid in lower elevations , but there were plenty of grouse , but the more the people and their cats and dogs moved into the urban areas ,less and less grouse doves and pigeons , cats will wipe birds out and when I lived in the country there were lots of cats prowling when housing developments came .

    Pheasants never did really establish a good population here , eastside of state yes , see the rare ones here that survive the release sites and or from when the state was trying to establish a breeding population .

    Turkeys have been released to establisha breeding population and close to the urban areas they find a neighborhood where people feed them and thats where most hang out , klickitat has had them since I was young , some years you see a lot in the woods , other years not so much as I notice they move into the populated spots and find the city dweller turned country gentlemen with his city ideas that feeds them , blue grouse have been scarce for years around here , used to see them a lot .

    Ruffed grouse were few and far between in area we hunt last few years , when they used to be everywhere . Hope they come back as I have always liked grouse roasted over a open fire .

  17. #17
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    Same in my area of south western Pa . Grouse are gone ! Pheasants are also nowtheres a good population of coyotes and an ever increasing number of bear that were never there even 20-30 years ago in the southern counties only thing that have increased are turkey
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Grouse also get West Nile and ticks.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I usually have 4 to 6 cottontails wintering in my polebarn. last winter i had 0. I never even saw a rabbit track in the snow. Yes my grouse #s are down, but also the chipmunks are not around. All of the neighbers i have talked to say the same thing.
    As with everyone else. The coyote #s are up but we also have a few Bobcats (2 to 3 sittings a year in our yard) An i can count on seeing at least 1 falcon a week.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I was happy to say I did hear a couple of pheasants cackle. I never had pheasants up there until the DNR planted them about 25 years ago. I thought the coyotes got them all. Last one I heard Cackle (before a few weeks ago) was years ago. I even had a nice male walk right under my tree stand but I passed on it because I was hoping they’d be all over the place eventually and keep breeding. Also my expandable broadheads would’ve probably cut it in half which would’ve wrecked the meat and or the mount. In the last 25 years there have been tons of Amish that moved into my area as well. I hate to point fingers but I hear that one single shot right before dusk EVERY single night I’m bow hunting over on their property. Zero Amish before then. The first couple of years I yelled at the Amish for drive-by shootings believe it or not. I came out of the woods and one pilgrim was driving his carriage while the other one was standing up with a lever action rifle staring up onto my property. Thai was two years in a row during opening day deer hunting. The shooter was looking like he was about ready to shoot out the OK corral. It happened a couple of times and then it hasn’t happened since. I found a huge dead doe the next spring freshly shot laying in my open field the following year. I should’ve reported them but I didn’t want the DNR crawling up and down and all around my area when I decide I’m gonna walk out five minutes late and be the one to get a $250 ticket. I believe they just violate deer off their own property now.

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