Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse. - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

Gentlemen,
My Grandfather and Father were serious Grouse hunters,
one of the questions passed down thru our family for generations is whether a Grouse is born instinctively knowing how to put habitat between itself and a predator
or does the grouse have to live long enough to learn how to
do make this happen. My Grandfather also made me understand that most hunters actually kill young 1st and 2nd year birds
as they Grouse hunt, few older mature birds are killed by
human hunters than you might believe. So does the Grouse
have a big enough brain to actually reason and learn to
use habitat for its safety and escape or is this a God given instinct from birth.
What do you believe?
Pine Creek/Dave

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:09 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability

1st & 2nd year birds make up the bulk of the population, that is a main part of that population being bagged. As for learning, I think in nature within any species there are variations and some are successful and live while others are slowly weeded out. ie 40 years ago IMO grouse sat much tighter, but some ran, those that ran may be the forebearers of some of the runners I've had to deal with today???? I also believe the more experiences an individual bird has with humans the better they are at escaping, I've been far north where ruffed grouse could be bagged with a BB gun
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability

Britkart,
So which is it, learned or Instinctive. With hunting pressure the Grouse population acts completley different than with it, I answered my Grandfather in that manner.
However in those areas we do see a lot more mature birds also. Have they learned to survive better or are there a lot less predators.
Pine Creek/Dave



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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:42 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

This assumes that a grouse has a memory. I really doubt that.

Some may be born more "scared" then others and it enables them to live longer. If you fly off at every snap of a twig rather than curiously seeing what snapped that twig, naturally you have an advantage due to your increased wariness.

I really doubt a grouse is conscientiously trying to put cover between him and the predator. They are trying to fly away an due to the cover they live in it prohibits straight line flight.

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:43 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

How do you age a grouse?

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

HighCountry,
Pick up a copy of Walrod's Grouse Hunters Guide
he does a pretty good job explaining it. The feathers
that grow at different times in a Grouses maturity are part of it.
Pine Creek/Dave

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:53 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

I read this from the RGS website. http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/grouse-facts

"Biologists and others who want to age Ruffed Grouse rely upon certain peculiarities of the molt of the primary flight feathers. The booklet A Grouse in the Hand explains this aging procedure. And following the first complete molt by a 14 to 15 month old adult grouse, there are no known physical characteristics which reliably identify the age."

You can only tell whether they are mature or juvenille. Not their age.

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 04:58 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

This was also interesting.

"Ruffed Grouse normally have a short life span. From a brood of 10 or 12 hatched in late May or early June, usually 5 or 6 will have died by mid-August. Among those living to disperse during the fall shuffle, about 45% will have been lost by late fall and early winter. Another 10% die over winter and during early spring, so that only about 45% of the young grouse alive in mid-September live to their first breeding season. In subsequent years a given cohort (a season's crop of young birds ) continues to shrink by about 55 to 60% per year. So from 1000 chicks hatched in late spring, about 400 normally survive to early autumn, 180 survive to the following nesting season, 80 are alive a year later, 36 live to breed a 3rd time, 16 may breed a 4th time. One out of 2200 chicks hatched may live as long as 8 years."

You probably kill so few 3 year olds because there are so few available.

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

HighCountry,
How big would a Grouses brain have to be, to reason?
Some people think Dogs can not reason, I am not one of those people however. I believe God gave most creatures the ability to reason & instincts to survive, especially
wild creatures like a Grouse. I do believe they must learn
as they mature however, and many perish before they learn, and become fully mature. Very few Grouse fly in a straight line for any distance when threatened, was this learned or instinctive. A mature Grouse sets up a safety zone and relocates when the zone is breached, usually the mature Grouse will walk off and set up another safety zone, young Grouse have not learned to reset the safety zone and these are the Grouse that most Grouse hunters gun. I actually believe a Grouse developes as it matures, it actually learns
many different things as it matures, the same as a gun dog
learns thru repeat experiences.
Pine Creek/Dave

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 05:20 PM
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Re: Instinct or Learned Ability - by the Grouse.

I will say this. I hunted a close to homecover 3 weekend in a row., due to minimal time allowed for hunting.

Each time they flushed further away than the first time. The last time out I saw them running for cover, and then wait in a grape vine until my lab got close then flush out of the back side.

I will go with the learned learned ability, just on my observations. They have a natural instinct to flush, but how close they let you get IMO is dictated on how much pressure they have seen in the season.

All be it this advice is coming from a total GREEN HORN GROUSE HUNTER

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