I had an interesting observation this archery season. One of my sets was on a deer trail about 18 yards off of a cliff face. There were a ton of oaks at this spot and the deer were hammering them. If I had a wind blowing over the top of the cliff the deer could not smell me in any way. My scent would be carried out and over the cliff. I had best results when the wind was blowing towards the cliff.
I try to analyze things while hunting and came up with the deer could feel totally safe if the wind was blowing into or quartering off of the cliff. They could scent danger from that side and have no worries of any danger from the cliff side. Prey animals like to use any advantage they can to maximize their chances of surviving an attack or a human.
OK, why this deer talk on the upland forum! Well, when the buck came in, I caught movement behind him. He would put his ears back and thrash at something on the ground. I thought it was a larger buck at first but as he got closer I could see it was two grouse following the deer. When he would put his head the grouse would run up by his face and pick the acorn pieces that were falling from his mouth.
The buck would thrash his head at the grouse and they would retreat. This went on for a while, and the buck came right under me. Here is a link to the youtube video I took with my phone. I tried many times to zoom in enough to see the grouse as well, but my phone could not get it clearly. The grouse would not come any closer from the cliff face than the deer trail.
I could have drilled him a million times before this but was holding out for a nicer buck. With my new love of grousing though I doubt I will be hunting for horns any longer and just focus on filling the freezer before grouse season
I began to try and figure out why these grouse liked this cliff face so much. When I was scouting it I had a few flushes as well. It is not that thick, with clear cut or anything like that. There are a few small patches of younger trees, and some pines along the cliff face. The pines are small but low to the ground, and I imagine the grouse would move from pine to pine, to avoid avian predators. There is a pine thicket about 100 yards or so from this spot as well, and an older clear cut about 100 yards the other direction. The area I was hunting was the only place that had oaks on that side of the mountain.
I came up with the grouse were actually using the deer to obtain the acorns, and using the cliff face as a way to get away from ground predators. The grouse could flush off of the cliff and land onto the ground below. I looked up the topography and the cliff face was about a 30-40 foot drop.
I wanted to post this as another consideration when hunting for grouse, and covers to check out. Check for deer trails through oak stands. If there is a bit of cover there, I would almost guarantee you will see grouse, hitting up the acorn pieces left behind by the deer. I am not sure that they can crack these shells by themselves or not, and am just going off of what I had witnessed, with the grouse feeding right beside the buck following him around. I hunted that stand a few more times for deer, and everytime I would see grouse walking about pecking at the acorn scraps.
I would keep an eye out for cliff faces and steeper hillsides as well. I imagine the grouse use this as another way to escape predators on the ground as well. Please feel free at add anything, and let me know if you think the grouse can crack the acorns on their own or not. Maybe they were just taking the easy way.
I am just wondering how I would get these birds that flew off of the cliff?
Not so sure I want to take the lab to this spot as she would probably dry to jump off of the cliff to get the downed birds