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Discussion Starter #1
I've not gotten out to SD where I do most of my Nov hunting as one of my GSP's was diagnosted with cancer 4 days before I was to leave. The dog is not in pain but knowing that things could develop quickly I've postponed my trip. So I took a younger GSP up to Potter County on Sat for grouse. Hunted for 6 hours and did not see a bird (nor deer for that matter either) nor did the dog get birdy. I was in the Austin - Cherry Springs areas, hunted 3 different cover types: 1. a cut that was probably 15 years old with thick 2" saplings, down trees, briars, scattered hemlocks, tall seed tress; 2. a younger cut that had seed trees and thick briars - more like rabbit cover and finally 3. a beech hillside with mature and young trees and blowdowns. The 1st cover certainly had canopy and ground protection but didn't seem to have much food source and the 3rd cover was all about food source and blowdown cover. I'd like to ask for input on cover types that normally hold birds at this time of year - any suggestions and/or comments about my selections? Also, I did not see any other bird hunters, I remember hunting in the Austin area in the early 90's with friends and there were many other bird hunters. We used to move 20+ in a day, hope my Sat zero was due to my inability not the population. Thanks for any insight you can give.
 

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How was the weather! Windy, cold, snowy??? weather is also a factor on whether the birds come out of the roost to feed early, late or not at all.
 

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John,
Sounds like the typical covers I hunt in that same area. In fact I was there this weekend. Me and the pup had 11 flushes on Friday in that crazy weather. Snow showers then sun off and on all day in maybe a 10 year old cut. The dog just couldnt get a solid point. Pretty windy. Lots of vines with alot of grapes on them this year it seems. Saturday was sunny and crisp and expected to really get into the birds. But had only two flush wild in an area I expected and have seen quite a bit in past years. Sounds like your hunting the right areas just have to hit it at the right time I suppose. I will say I have hunted a few covers this year that always seemed to hold birds in the past that havent produced this year. Everyone is saying things are looking good for the Grouse but Im not sure about that area in particular.
 

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We hunted an Aspen and Hemlock stand on Saturday afternoon that was littered with woodcock whitewash and didn't raise a single woodcock. In that same area we only flushed two grouse and one flushed wild in a little over 2 hrs. It's an area that looks birdie and has held quite a free grouse in the past so it may have been the weather or time of day. Besides the Aspen there were quite a few wild grapes, tea berry and witch hazel. Do not really sure why we didn't encounter more birds.
 

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I spent a week hunting birds in northwest Potter at the beginning of pheasant season. The grouse numbers for us were down this year. We flushed less than half of what we usually do during our annual week of Grouse Camp. Also, the grouse were really running this year. Normally my lab has no problem sniffing them out and getting even the runners to flush in gun range. This year they were heading out the backside of the covers and flushing wild as were were entering.

Luckily, we moved a good number of woodcock, the most ever during Grouse Camp with thirty some flushes in five days of hunting. Also, we always do very well on pheasants so, although we were a little disappointed with the grouse, a little over 100 combined game bird flushes for the week helped ease the pain.

The covers you described sound typical of some that we hunt and my guess would be that the numbers are down a bit this year in your area as well and maybe they were running way out in front like they were doing to us.
 

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John Cordis,
Next time you come up this way give me a yell and I will help you out, Potter/Tioga is a big forest, at times finding what you want can be a chore.
Pine Creek/Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Dave, I will. Don't want to talk about specific covers, just types/ages/food source/etc guidance. Hey I saw one of your pheasant photo's - is that a 12 g LC Smith in the photo? When I grouse hunt I carry a 16 g Parker Trojan, lite enough to carry with 1 hand and balances nice on my shoulder for the long walks. I need to figure this game to so I shoot it more!
 

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Not sure how the weather was in Potter this past weekend, but I hunted west of there in ANF and all the birds I moved were tucked up within Hemlock / Laurel thickets due to the snow. I tried some thick sapling areas later on in the day and went grouse less as well.

-John
 

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John,
You bet it's a 16 Gauge L.C. Smith, Silver Breach.
Use some SpredR loads in your 16 Gauge Parker Trojan, for Grouse and Woodcock, #8's in the 1st bbl and 7 1/2's in the 2nd, the old Parker originals are great Grouse and Woodcock double guns. Stop in when you can, drop me a private messge before you come!
Pine Creek/Dave
 
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