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3,810 Posts
David's dislike of covert "selling" has long been voiced on a number of message boards....second only perhaps to unpaid Public access to Pennsylvania Gamelands or folks playing their non-hunting method field trial "games".
I suspect this first dislike gained traction in the upper great lakes as some foresters put together information relative to timber cuts and age not exactly secret, by the way, but certainly collected in a more easily digested America 101.
Have ruffed grouse numbers been reduced by the, imo, as that region has blessings that maps will not impact, as but one reason. Plus, the nature of woodcock precludes any population impact for them at all.

Can notice bring negative issues?
Sure...see Northern NH after message board surfers flooded the area a good while back, to see a bit of that. Or, other areas of the country with other birds....not so oddly, message boards do far more harm than maps of individual coverts.
One must often search out several WIHAs, for acceptable trade-off, imo.

I have never used those maps as early successional is not difficult to find up north, IF that is the ruffed grouse cover one prefers to hunt....some folks do see it as a shortcut tho, I agree.
Additionally, covert age is comparably short....especially as covert extent can be nearly endless, apart from the Appalachians, of course.
Finding "new" is simply the never-ending life of a ruffed grouse hunter...or most hunters, for that matter today.
I am not sure how the "famous" ruffed grouse guides/Camps factor in to dislike as they essentially sell covert locations in the process of making a living. Not all cover is private...tho that can be the company line.
Go-Pay-Learn-Go can work.

While I disagree with most of David's narrow definition of what defines tradition and his 'stories', I do completely agree regarding not following up flushes beyond once.
Especially in a true late season and especially outside the UGLs, re-flushing Bonasa U depletes energy at a time when food is of lowest nutritional value and volume(clearly an issue re reproduction), moving birds out of their home range opens them more to predators and pushes them into areas apart from where they chose to food and cover.
To put it does not have to shoot a ruffed grouse, to kill it.
Be judicious in one's the lower 48, few grouse hunters are starving today.


3,810 Posts
I'm sure we share some points of view, David.

Ruffed grouse are a comparably weak noted due to the inability to effectively work outside of the wild environment.
Not being able to be raised in captivity on a meaningful scale, for example or not playing well in a few areas with a lot of human activity in the woods for raisable Preserve-friendly pheasant or quail, hun or chukar here.
There is also a difference in the tame-ish grouse seen in western areas and other areas of the size never fits all ruffed grouse.
Not accepting activity tho is not much of an issue in the UGLs or areas where we humans have seasons ourselves...farther south, it matters and especially so as deer and turkey hunting has boomed human activity in the woods.
The grouse's good luck was immense acreage controlled by a business that created early successional as a coal and timber. Each factor boomed the bird well beyond normal some areas.
But, change has too often the bird's homeland.

What would Evans think of selling his grouse covert info?....well, on Public accessed land, they would not be his coverts so, I expect he would be saddened but not much else.
What I suspect would gag him is the explosion of Leasing, by deer and turkey hunters, of former open to the Public timber or coal lands.
Lands he once freely, unless he joined a hunting club, that ground would be off limits. A single outfit in WV controlled 80K a few years ago....some in the vincinity of Canaan where Evans walked.
Look at the change within Canaan Valley....timeshares, leaf peepers from Washington DC only 4 hours away....Canaan has changed well past Evans hunting The Gates.
Leasing is simply big business and much of once Public accessed land thru old agreements are now kaput, what with the ownership changes in the form of TIGs, etc.
Timbering is also not as stable a business, everywhere and re hardwoods, as once it was,....mills closing or shrinking, markets fluctuating.
Beyond that, your GBE stories are apochryphal.

As to winter....location matters and a home range, in say the Apps....never amounted to a food aisle 'round every bend. In late season, in times when soft and/or hard mast failed found the birds concentrated. Flush them too far and food can be an issue and the flash of wings thru the winter woods is a call to raptors.
That, is just Life and reality for the bird...not everywhere is aspen budding a possibility.
Bonasa U(or whichever letter you apply) are not all blessed with true winter and snow or elevation and months of cold as factors limiting we hunters...of all types.

Enjoy your 'mountain' lifestyle compadre, you are lucky in some ways....but, many of use are more concerned with a Life rather than a lifestyle.

*edited for spellin'.

3,810 Posts
RGS has shown that wherever turkeys have been introduced and flourish, grouse numbers decline rapidly. It has given me a different outlook on turkeys!
Ruffed grouse numbers have been declining in some areas well before turkey introductions....the ACGRP in the Apps(turkey central) saw zero impact by turkeys on video-monitored ruffed grouse nests over the length of the study.
But.....turkeys can compete with food ie hard mast like acorns, they can scratch out the odd nest of eggs at the base of a tree or a log when looking for food and, possibly, turkeys may serve to spread west nile affecting ruffed grouse reproduction, et al.

Turkeys always receive barbershop blame but.....their effect is minimal compared to a double handfull of other factors.
That is not to say that turkeys were not over-distributed in a quest for nwtf banquet tables....because turkeys were a money-maker and thoughtlessly introduced.
The real issue is the abundance of factors affecting Bonasa even the smallest of factors gain in significance as grouse populations slide down a decline curve.

There is no single best 'tradition' re ruffed grouse hunting or dogs, ruffed grouse are not the king of gamebirds(no one bird is) and bird hunters fit many descriptions.....I hope.

FWLIW these days...the RGS failed to act when their input could have helped the bird....outside of the UGLs.
They gave up on the bird......far too quickly.

3,810 Posts
Maybe so but he is referred to as the "King of the Woods" so he is the ruling monarch there! ;):)
I understand....with the locations and the nature of the bird since 1964 make him my favorite but...I dislike best and such applied as freely as it often is.
The bird deserves more than that fluffy me.

3,810 Posts
PA never fenced in large "tracts" of forest....they did fence in small study areas and the result illustrated the browsing damage done by high deer populations...often, preferential browsing, which can be one factor altering a forest diversity over time. PA's deer population in too many areas simply was out of hand...browse lines, etc. ignored as deer hunting became the go-to activity....Gary Alt fixed that problem, sometimes too well, but deer rebound in a comparable instant so, ho-hum.

As before, many factors entered into the ruffed grouse decline.....the aging of forests from declines in logging due to changing fiber demand and in the increased lawsuits by the SELC for but two reasons, were in the front in the Appalachians.
Habitat loss and habitat change both lead weather at hatch/post-hatch and raptors....however, those three will always be the Top 3.

The point to consider tho is the enormity and increasing number of factors which are involved along with the bird's, often, inability to easily adapt to changes...unlike deer and turkey.
Yes, deer affect ruffed grouse but mostly in the boom and changes which deer hunting brought to...some....woods re activity, in the boom that deer feeders played in nest predator increases(pelt price decreases were not the only reason for raccoon population increases) in some states and not so late season grouse hunting by Lease holders(and others) getting together for a 'grouse' hunt after deer season....again, more reasons than three exist and hunter real in..some...coverts at...certain....times of the year.
Deep snow and tough terrain are not a given to all ruffed grouse living rooms.

But, reasons themselves vary in affect across the range and increase in importance as bird numbers drop....all this with the often subtle differences in the grouse themselves.
Testing indicated that grouse enter winter with lower fat reserves in the UGLs than in the central and southern Apps....odd until one looks at budding potential, long snow cover, food nutritional values, etc.

Other than that...acorns are a ruffed grouse food and hard and soft mast have failures.
Ruffed grouse...can...face a tough gig in a changing world.
Where we let them down was in considering a one-size fits all....single... answer...such as the stupid 'build it and they will come' idea and, in ignoring heath affects in a changing world....from viruses to we humans being humans.

Imho, of course.

3,810 Posts
Read my additivity comment more slowly, David.....qualifiers are important and PA defines neither ruffed grouse nor ruffed grouse hunting beyond the Commonwealth...or the odd like areas, perhaps.
True late season ruffed grouse hunting such as into February and, to me, January...can be...indeed was...harmful to a bird whose population was far from some areas.
Simply put and as before, elevation and snow do not limit hunters as factors of their own....everywhere...add a developed road system as a negative in some areas as well.
PA, in many areas, has both snow and tough advantage in your state, ie another of it's blessings.
Your dislike of shortened seasons stems from that reality and PA's blessings.....that is short-sighted, compadre.
Managing or being concerned for the bird's welfare requires a look other than over a bird hunter's front bead....or, where you live or hunt.

Yes, deer do browse and can do that preferentially(and seldom to the ground) and to the extent of browse lines on some species...such as one could witness on the grand Chestnut Ridge.

GEMs...are ok...but get slammed by hunters and have a lifespan.....they are not an answer, they are a targeted opportunity for a spell.

As to forcing logging....not and obstructionists are but two reasons....add the decline in logging, logger numbers and mill capacity for a third.
It sounds good but like opting to slam raptor just ain't gonna happen....ever.

The largest kick in the short ribs lately was the Marcellus/Utica play as it shut down biomass projects, in favor of cheap and plentiful natural gas in the Apps. Pipeline routes and well locations booming the bush honeysuckle varietals is an associated downer.

Deer hunting is Big Business today, boyo, beyond PA and has been released from the bottle.

We grouse hunters....can be...a negative to the bird(and rgs participation is no eliminator of effect).
It all depends upon the viability of the bird shorter than rangewide.....the wishes of the grousehunters are of no consequence, comparably.
And not the sole answer.....often, just the easy excuse or reason, we need to be alert to looking ever wider......or, we should have, to be more correct.

*Edit for spelling again.

3,810 Posts
Just a small note due to my poor method of stating....Habitat will always be #1 for ruffed grouse, as a plus or a minus, as a benefit or a reason for decline.
Habitat tho, ime, loses a bit of it's importance as bird numbers plummet when other decline factors achieve greater significance than in the Past.

That Ohio mentioned still has still has an operating paper mill and within the range of feeding that mill...Habitat with food.
Very little has changed in the size and extent of the Big H the Wayne NF then yes, big and the normal changes wrought by succession.
In that same area, the well-known ice storm of the early 2000s also opened up the woods and was, supposedly, a god sent answer by the state.....what happened?...nothing but the continual slide.
Parcel size?..same as before...small cuts as is the nature of private and corporate cuts in Ohio.

What has changed is land ownership, human activity and to my reasoning, health issues compounding the decline in Ohio beginning decades ago. Ohio's decline was predictable....from the heydays of the 60s and 70s of 30 bird days to now.
Had to happen as that area and much like it across the central & southern Apps faced aging and increased human activity.....adding even grouse hunters who continued to hunt increasingly threatened birds in damn good habitat. Why?...because they had grouse dogs, because they always had gone, because they were hunting memories, because they believed the non-existent in Ohio.."cycle"..and so on.
Hunting at such times and places is additive....saw too many trucks parked with rgs stickers upon them skirmish lining the late winter woods.

The point tho is not threatening David's late hunting in PA but is in considering that ruffed grouse deserve(d) the benefit of a better, more defined look at their situation.
Not running away from what may affect...US.
The point also includes that Ohio's grouse decline could not have been reversed.....but, it could have been altered in slope.
Probably not to many who see a different reality in all angles of the bird but when decline achieves a personal connection then Yes...and that reality exists, imo, beyond, can be, only...all about time.
So, in my limited and stuttering way, I note what is my lived thru history and for the shame I saw in a bird abandoned to maintaining reputations, banquet tables and thru obstructionists with the power of lawsuits and spreading false or distracting info.

That is all...make it a nice day. 🤝
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