The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a few suggestions regarding improving my land to increase the grouse population. Currently, my property is in great shape in terms of shelter and habitat. I have small stands of aspens, a few small fields with great edges, multiple logging roads, and small sections that have been clear cut or heavily logged. The property holds grouse, but it is typically very hit or miss and could definitely be improved.

I believe the missing piece is food. I have searched the internet and found several plants that seem to attract grouse; however, as i look further they also seem to be invasive (such as autumn olive and wild grape). I was just looking for a few suggestions on what I should plant and where to increase my grouse population. Thanks in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,873 Posts
I am not an expert, but I have spent the last several weeks reading up on this exact topic. The best solution that I have found(price wise) is from Howard Nurseries and it consists of purchasing the Elderberry seedlings. I have also looked into other berries that grouse enjoy, but I haven't found anything that is jumping out at me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,493 Posts
Rule of thumb on the Wild Grape that I use. If the vines are choking a viable tree, whether it's viable for wildlife, or $$$ for my pocket, I cute the vines. Wild Grape is very beneficial to have. I simply do not get hung up on the invasive plant issue. I have plenty of Autumn Olive, Grape, and Multiflora Rose, and all three benefit the dynamics of my farm in different ways.

What I do dislike as far as non-natives though, is the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthis.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,436 Posts
Call the RGS and get some of there Clover Mix and plant it on your logging roads, and also plant any kind of fruit bearing bush or shrub. But make sure you fence them to keep deer and bear out
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28,493 Posts
Gridiron...WELCOME to HPA !! I am a NW PA landowner as well and kind of lucked into good grouse land. in fact so much so that my gauge going forward on how I am doing for wildlfie habitat overall is if they stick around. If they leave , time for me to get busy with the chainsaw.

One thing I did not see you mention is if you have evergreens on the property. Pines, hemlocks, spruces..they are a DEFINATE in NW PA if you want grouse to be there ALL year around.

Being I was logged before I got there, I have grapevines, some young and crooked black cherry, and alot of birch and crapapple. I know all of those supply the grouse with food.

Right now they are all in my grown over pasture choked with pine and crabapple.

The best thing about grouse is it is hard to screw it up unless you do nothing with your chainsaw. They are GREAT birds, and pretty low maintenance. I never tire of seeing them eventhough i don't hunt them much anymore.

Ever since i had the old drummer "Ralph" follow me around for over 6 months up there, I have had a hard time drawing bead on his kin. Loved it when he showed up as soon as I fired up the ATV or shut the truck door...APril tree planting to October bowhunting, he was my bud.

If you have mature trees in those aspen stands that have 10" trunks or so...cut them (if the spot gets sunlight) and the roots will sucker and create on nice thicket QUICKLY.

Grouse are adaptable on the food, I don't think it is a certain food as much as the surroundings. If you cut it, they will come and stick around if you got evergreesns. You can have the perfect plant full of food there, but if they don;t have tight ground/theraml cover and they won;t be around all the time.

For the love of drummers,
RB

BTW, I'll second that RGS trail mix...one it goes to a great cause, and two it grows GREAT if it gets even marginal sun. Although i never saw a grouse utilizing it, i have two woodcock that like that trail and I figure get their worms from underneath it. + the bunnies of course.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
390 Posts
grey dogwood is grouse candy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,107 Posts
I copied the below from the RGS website http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/Your-Woodlot

"Dense young conifer plantations can offer some thermal protection for a time, but are of less value as they age. Rotational planting, or planting a mix of species can increase a conifer stand's wildlife value. Grouse, deer and bears readily eat clover planted in forest roads and clearings. Fruiting shrubs like dogwood, mountain ash, sumac, hawthorn and wild plum can be planted along the north and east edges of clearings to soften the edge effect and provide food and cover for many wild animals. Hard mast trees, like oak, hickory and black walnut can provide a late fall high-energy food source for deer, turkey, bear and squirrels."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,107 Posts
Also search for nannyberry, arrowwood, chokecherry, chokeberry, highbush cranberry. These are all native and non-invasive shrubs, much better alternatives to autumn olive and multifloral rose. I plan to plant a variety of these this spring. They can also be obtained from local nursery's like Mussers and Pike's Peak near Indiana.

http://www.musserforests.com/browse.asp?m=2&p=360

http://www.pikespeaknurseries.net/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
From where I am finding grouse these days, I'd have to agree with the Barberry and Elderberry comments, maybe even Blueberry. I have been hunting for rabbits and grouse over many miles of great conifer forests and swamps the past few weeks, and the grouse are all in the swamps in what I believe is tightly grouped berry bushes of some sort- possibly Blueberry.

But, what it is providing now is amazingly secure cover for the grouse, because it is so dense. The tops of the bushes are meshing and creating tight corridors and tunnels that the grouse are weaving in and out of at ground level. This is not the easiest hunting, and most of my shots are coming on the outsides of these areas where I am flushing birds in more open areas. However, the majority of the flushes that are not lending themselves to shots are coming in the center of these tight corridor areas.

Also consider if the plants you are putting in are going to have thorns. While it is going to protect the grouse a bit more from the fox, it's going to make it much harder on human and dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all of the advice! I appreciate it.

I am definitely going to order some of the clover mix and plant the logging roads/clearings. I've read the grey dogwoods are good and hold their berries for a long time. I am also going to get some kind of fruit bearing bush. Thanks again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
777 Posts
I don't believe I seen American Hazlenut mentioned
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,754 Posts
We are planting crabapple, grey and silky dogwood, and hawthorne on our NEPA RGS habitat projects. Thermal cover is always a great idea if none exists close by. Barberry is a good late winter food...usually the berries are still around if other foods are abundant earlier in the winter. Chicks are really fond of buttercup leaves.

Hope this helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,024 Posts
They definately do like barberry, especially the Japanese barberry. They also love clover, dogwood, etc.

Really, though, food is usually not a limiting factor in their populations. It may draw some extra birds in from neighboring properties and help you know where to focus your hunts but the grouse will find plenty of food even without planting any. Just make sure you have good cover and you'll have grouse.

I spent thousands of dollars on aspen, alder, apple, crab apple, various dogwood species, etc. but I didn't see a noticable difference in grouse numbers - probably because so many of the plants died.

As RoosterBooster said, they do like evergreens and if you don't have many it would probably help bring some birds in. The Ruffed Grouse Society publications claim that evergreens are actually bad because it gives raptors a place to roost and focus their hunting efforts. Still, I like the evergreens because they provide good cover and they attract grouse if the neighboring woods lack them. They also are fairly cheap and are easy to grow compared to most of the species I tried.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think our area has a great population and i know my land has great cover. We are at that point thought that we are 3 years out from a big cut and some of the stuff is so incredibly thick and tree top piles are so big we just can get to the birds. I'm looking at creating some smaller plots that might draw the birds out a little bit and attract more birds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,829 Posts
Ten years ago, I planted a few log roads with clover on a hunting club in Potter County. That fall, it was incredible the number of flushes off those clover plots. I used white dutch clover in that mix and I'm sure that might have been what they were keying in on.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top