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Ruffed Grouse (partridge) hunting...

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Gathering' started by x39, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. x39

    x39 Guide

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    Here in eastern Maine the season has been absolutely dismal. Some of the most dedicated, skilled, and experienced hunters (with good dogs) I know have struck out, to say nothing of dubs like me wandering around in the woods hoping for a chance. I was wondering how you bird hunters in other areas have done?
     
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  2. Wilderness Spirit

    Wilderness Spirit Scout Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've been getting out some with dogs, but only finding a bird now and then. I am hunting areas closer to home so I realize the numbers will be lower than areas north of Rt. 80. Typically the best grouse hunting is in the north west part of PA, but I haven't been up there this year.
    I was thinking about a trip up to Maine, guess its good we didn't bother. We were up a few years ago, hunted near Grand Lake stream. The hunting at that time wasn't too bad (Grouse and Woodcock).
    Our grouse numbers have been down for a few years, but I am seeing birds in areas where I haven't seen them for years.
     
  3. 14ers

    14ers Last man standing Supporter

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    Pretty rough in Colorado this year too. It's been worse, but it's been better too.
     
  4. manitoulinbound

    manitoulinbound Apple Fritter Lover Supporter

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    Numbers have been low in my area for the past 5 years of so, likely due to a larger coyote presence. For whatever reason, the coyotes seem to be moving out of the area, so I'm hoping the grouse will come back. I have seen the very odd one now and then this past year but won't be shooting any, again, in the hopes they will come back.
     
  5. 14ers

    14ers Last man standing Supporter

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    Sounds like it's time for some coyote hunting.:4:
     
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  6. Haggis

    Haggis Supporter Supporter

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    We had about 3" of "wintery mix" fall a couple weeks ago, then it all froze forming a 3" crust on top of the existing snow. Grouse here roost in the snow, they scratch out a hollow spot, then tunnel in a ways to get out of the weather. I've been seeing where they've roosted just sitting on top of the hard crust. Also, I've been seeing lots of fox tracks near and in roosting areas. Can't help but wonder if this will affect next year's grouse population.

    I'm seeing grouse tracks aplenty, but not many grouse,,, I suppose we're moving around at different times,,, plus, I'm hanging around hazel thickets looking for rabbits at the time the grouse have fed and moved up into the shelter of evergreens to spend their day,,,
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  7. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    Supposedly we are heading in the down cycle here but I was flushing about three per hour when actually hunting this fall in habitat. I usually have my dog but he is not a bird dog. I thought it was an above average year although I only connected with three. I got out several times. My main excuse is I am deaf in one ear so have no directional hearing. So I don't see many until they are too gone, unless they flush in my eyesight. I saw very few Woodcock.
     
  8. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    Central Maine no better, been out about a dozen times and scared up 3 in my usual haunts and didn't get any of them. I have no dog and just sit listen and wait or stump shoot em when walking.
     
  9. Finner

    Finner Supporter Supporter Banned

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    Quite a few around my land in central NB, but down here by the border I can count on one hand how many I've seen. I think you Maine boys have taken them all last year!
     
  10. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    I saw far less grouse this year than most years. We have ruffled grouse and massive, close to turkey sized blue grouse here. I saw maybe 3 blues all season, seen and killed quite a few ruffled grouse but much less than years past. Seemed like there were more out and about during the earlier portion of the season. I went camping for a week or so and ate like 2-3 grouse a day, it was glorious.
     
  11. sons of scotland

    sons of scotland Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    back in the 70,s and 80,s hunting grouse in southeast ohio i could easily flush grouse all day long and come home with a handful of birds. it seems the last 10 years or so i could hunt all day long and maybe flush one or two birds, its at the point they are not even worth hunting anymore.

    grouse hunting now is nothing but an all day hike lugging around my rem 1100, and i am affraid deer are going to follow the same path of the grouse if O.D.N.R. does not change there online deer checking back to checking in reporting stations and limit the deer kill limit to one like it used to be.

    sorry x39 for the mini rant. :dblthumb:
     
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  12. Griff4570

    Griff4570 Tracker

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    We didn't get out much this year, but when we did we did OK. We found birds in places we haven't before and honey holes void of birds. The last couple years we have lost some favorite spots to forest fires in eastern oregon. Grouse hunting is different out here . Not as many people hunting them with dogs. Quite a few people road hunt them, or take them incidental to big game hunting. Are seasons run September 1 to the end of January. My favorite spot is on the west side of the cascades. It's a long Ridge kinda L shaped. We get ruffs down low, blues on the ridge top and usually find some mountain quail on the back side of the L. Its a special spot and only hunt it once a year. We hunt over short hairs that we bred ourselves. Our grouse hunting is a real treasure. Five months season lots of public ground and rarely ever see another bird hunter. We won't run our dogs during rifle deer or elk season, not a big deal with the long season. Next season we plan on hunting the coast rang, just think it would be cool to hunt grouse with the ocean in the background.
     
  13. Frogfriend

    Frogfriend Tracker

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    I don't hunt grouse but I have noticed fewer that get scared up this year while I am hiking here in NW Wisconsin. I've talked to a couple hunters and they have said it seems to be a bad year all around for grouse hunting :(

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  14. LongAgoLEO

    LongAgoLEO Scout

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    One of my guys was out blowing up stuff at my place (shooting) and stepped into the brush tending nature's call and ended up flushing and busting this one. Hard to see against the camo, but nice bird. I flush them occasionally, but quit hunting them when my hearing diminished to the point I couldn't hear them getting up anymore. Hard (for me) to speak to the local population status, but I'm still seeing them. My rabbits are way down on my land, but overrunning my place in town.
    Winter '14 - 115b.jpg
     
  15. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    I hear that, grouse hunting is different out west. On the west side of the cascades where I hunt it's really thick vegetation, almost rainforest like. Flushing them up usually results in not getting a shot due to them vanishing into the vegetation so quickly so dogs aren't as commonly used here.
    I get most of mine either on the roads or in the brush. I usually don't see them first if I'm walking so after they flush I watch where they land the best I can and make my move from there. I'll stick around for an hour sometimes if I cant find them and I know they flew into an area, it usually pays off with a bird in the hand. Some people say shooting grouse while not in flight is unsportsman like, I tell them to spend a day hunting grouse where I hunt then tell me how unsporting it is.
     
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  16. oldpinecricker

    oldpinecricker Supporter Supporter

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    Its been alright here. Not outstanding, but decent.

    We've got ruffed, spruce(fool hen), and blues.

    My dad is 100% DAV from service related Parkinson's so I bought him an Polaris RZR trail machine he can get around in. He cruises around local in town and around us there's lots of mountain trails. He's got an permit to hunt from the vehicle and I take him out and he mops up the grouse handily. I've even been able to get him into elk and he drew an bull moose tag and filled it as well.

    It's an good time when your walking an ridge line and get into an flock of blue grouse and limit out. You really got some meat then.
     
  17. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    I used to live near a town or road rather, called "pine crick". Had a flashback when I seen your username lol. You're right about the meat on blues, lots to eat!
     
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  18. mnwoodguy

    mnwoodguy Tracker

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    IMG_2746.JPG Was a decent season at our cabin in northern Minnesota. Fair numbers of grouse and good numbers of woodcock. This was my 11 year old son's first season and he managed to get one grouse and miss on a few woodcock. Very enjoyable fall!
     
  19. Haggis

    Haggis Supporter Supporter

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    I'm no sportsman, I shoot them where I see them,,,
     
  20. x39

    x39 Guide

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    Always good to see young folks getting into it! My buddy had a bumper sticker on his truck "Kids who hunt, trap, and fish don't rob little old ladies".
     
  21. Togus

    Togus Supporter Supporter

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    I didn't hunt for them, but I routinely spooked bunches of them while I was deer hunting. This was in the central Maine area (Canaan).
     
  22. x39

    x39 Guide

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    Woodcock were decent here, but the numbers weren't stellar. I spoke with a couple of my bird hunter friends this morning, they said guys they know in New Hampshire were also reporting low grouse numbers. Nobody seems to be able to put a finger on the problem, as it looked like a good nesting season and we had a decent summer.
     
  23. Kdad

    Kdad Supporter Supporter

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    It has been quite a few years since I've seen a lot of birds around here. Used to find at least a few during the season. Even took some with a bow. Grouse have been few and far between the last few years. The land use and logging practices in the mountains have changed to the point that little logging is done. The new regrowth just isn't around for food and cover for them anymore.
     
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  24. gila_dog

    gila_dog BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    The numbers of grouse (and quail, deer, etc) go up and down with the amount of snow and rain we get here. In drought years there are few. In wet years they come back. We have quail all over the place now because we've had 2 very nice wet years, and this year is looking like the same. I can't hunt them near home because all the neighborhood wives will kill anybody who hurts their pretty little quail.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
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  25. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    I was there then too. Used to hunt at Zaleski and in Doan township between Nelsonville and Athens. There were lots and lots of Ruffed Grouse then. Even just out squirrel hunting in the morning you'd hear 5 or 6 drumming all around you.
     
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  26. Chevrolet4x4s

    Chevrolet4x4s Guide

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    Have seen more this year than I have in ages.
    Shane
     
  27. x39

    x39 Guide

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    May I ask where you are? Thanks.
     
  28. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    This ^ X2
     
  29. sons of scotland

    sons of scotland Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    i live 10 minutes from zaleski. been hunting this area for over 40 years, you are spot on about about the grouse. small world, we might have shared the same hillside hunting a time or two.
     
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  30. Gizamo

    Gizamo Banned Member Banned

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    Low numbers in the Western Foothills of Maine. Seems where ever the Turkeys are thick....the partridge are thin.
     
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  31. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    No foolin'! Small world... I'm originally from up by Cleveland, but the best woods in Ohio are down by you. My friends and I rented a house in Nelsonville when we went to college in Athens. I was there when they reintroduced turkeys from W. Va and Pa. to Zaleski... now they're everywhere I hear! After retiring from the Navy, I moved out here to New Mexico. If you ever want to come out and try some Gambels' quail or Spruce grouse, let me know!
    One time I was working the ODNR game check station at that little gas station past Lake Hope. Some guy from Columbus came to check and weigh his deer and it turned out to be a goat! We didn't say anything, just stood around admiring it hanging on the scale, asking him where he shot it and all... meantime we called the LEOs and him and the farmer who owned the goat came. Hilarity ensued!

    One of my best friends in the whole world still lives there in Glouster. I was back there about 5 years ago. I love the Burr Oak Lake area, too!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  32. 1773

    1773 Guide

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    I used to do a lot of grouse hunting here in SE KY and TN, but as Kdad pointed out the habitat is no longer here. The days of a cut area next to a 10 or 15 year old cut area next to mature timber are over and grouse have to have that here. It really is sad because it used to be a lot of fun to hunt them and the forest health here is decreasing due to the restrictions on logging.
     
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  33. Maple Trail

    Maple Trail Tracker

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    My sons got one each in Jackman. It is a lot slower than it used to be.
     
  34. x39

    x39 Guide

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    That seems to be the consensus among a lot of the bird hunters I know. Given how grouse nest versus how turkeys feed, it seems like a reasonable conclusion. Twenty years ago there wasn't a turkey to be seen downeast, since the state stocking program they're everywhere, and in large numbers.
     
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  35. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    Boy! When you get a lot of info all at once like this, you can almost see the numbers declining for grouse. Or else we're just all really bad shots! :)
     
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  36. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    In my area of the State the general consensus is besides cyclical weather patterns is the decrease of hunting pressure in recent years of their other natural predators such as bobcats and fox and some influx of Canadian Lynx not to mention the coyote problem. Not sure if the Turkeys have a bearing on the problem or not.
     
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  37. x39

    x39 Guide

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    I spend a lot of time outdoors and haven't really seen that much of an uptick in predator numbers, at least not in my immediate area. The turkey question is a potentially thorny issue. A friend of mine told me he was listening to V. Paul Reynolds on WVOM the other night, and the guest was a wildlife biologist. The question of the effect of the huge increase in the turkey population and it's possible effect on grouse came up, and the biologist went so far as to state that turkeys will eat grouse eggs while foraging.
     
  38. Griff4570

    Griff4570 Tracker

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    I have seen this out west also. Another thing we have seen is when cattle are ranged in Creek bottoms the birds are not there. The cattle eat and beat down the underbrush.
     
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  39. Chevrolet4x4s

    Chevrolet4x4s Guide

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    West Virginia
     
  40. Chevrolet4x4s

    Chevrolet4x4s Guide

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    There were 5 that would come in daily during deer season at my hunting blind and would see several on other parts of the property.
    Shane
     
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  41. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    The creek bottom that flows into my property used to have a lot of spruce grouse. Then the forest sold a lease to a guy for grazing and you're right. As the underbrush went down from the cows, the grouse population went down. Almost never see them now.
     
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  42. sons of scotland

    sons of scotland Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    thanks for the offer brother. been several years since i have been to new mexico, beautiful country. funny story about the goat, definitely a rookie that shot it. must of thought it was a spike buck. lol
     
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  43. sons of scotland

    sons of scotland Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    man i missed the glouster part, love the town of glouster. used to hang out there on our way to burr oak to muzzle load hunt in wildcat hollow.
     
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  44. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    Wildcat Hollow backpack trail, about a mile and a quarter in is my favorite camp in Ohio. Here's a pic from when I stayed there 5 years ago... trip 135.jpg
     
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  45. 80mtn

    80mtn Banned Member Banned

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    We rolled on the ground in the parking lot laughing. I mean, we straight faced the joke for like 45 minutes or an hour! It was a hoot!

    My friend Benny and Sam from the boxing gym in Glouster told me back in the 60s and 70s, they had 30 some bars on 78 between Nelsonville and Glouster!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  46. Leatherneck

    Leatherneck Tracker

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    Any reports and updates for this year?
     
  47. Squirrelhunter

    Squirrelhunter Scout

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    Well, I can't speak for how others in the area (or state) are faring at present, but the number & activity level of grouse on our family property appears down this season - this was the case last year too. The birds have seemed more reclusive & skitish, and I don't know if the inconsistent weather & rainfall we've had in recent years has played into that or not; there seems to be plenty of food - mountain ash berries are out, and it's hard to walk anywhere near an apple tree without skating on fallen fruit :rolleyes: :D
    2014 & 2015 were banner years here for me, both in terms of birds taken in a season, and in number of birds out and about early in the year. Things have fallen off since then, with several areas that always had birds in them, so much so that I would often spook multiple groups several times a day there, not supporting any the past two years....

    One caveat here. Apparently, the birds that are out & about seem to know when I'm there & when I'm not.... My father has been up on the property multiple times, and has reported numerous grouse active along the quarter mile driveway in, and even a couple down near the family cabin itself - usually, he's there from past noon till around dusk. He doesn't really hunt anymore, and rarely carries a firearm there, so the darn wild chickens must be catching on to things....I've not seen one bird on the road yet or anywhere near the cabin o_O:rolleyes: :D

    If I hear any buzz about how others are doing, and their reports on bird numbers & activity, I'll try and remember to post about it here. Until then, I'm hoping just to not get skunked on grouse for the second year in a row :oops: :rolleyes: :D

    Hopefully others are having more luck elsewhere :dblthumb:

    Kind Regards,

    ~ SH ~

    P.S. Got to readin' the latest Hawkeye (NH specific outdoors-oriented newspaper) and they were reporting on various sources for grouse activity/hunting. Apparently, in 2016 the average number of grouse reported by hunters per 100 hours in the field was roughly half of what it'd been in 2015 - they stated various NH sources expected similar results this season. There were other elements and variances cited, but this theme certainly goes along with what I've been seeing of late.....it's early yet, so we'll see I guess.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017

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