Drumming counts is really what we need. While flush rates give us trend data, it is biased because hunters are not randomly choosing where they hunt. They are selecting a certain type of habitat. What I'd really, really like to find out is just how close we are to an additive grouse mortality in PA.
USFWS is using sex / age from wings AND singing male surveys to monitor woodcock and set season/ bag limits. We could do something similar for grouse.
Rick, additive means that hunting mortality is above and beyond what mortality would normally occur in wild population. The opposite is compensatory which means that hunting mortality only makes up a portion of the annual population mortality. Basically, is hunting causing the population to lose more individuals that would occur under normal mortality.
Good to hear that hunter additivity is at least in the consideration mix.
Those of us who have been shouting this concern re late season additivity for years, thank you for, at least, that consideration.
One easily understands that where the ruffed grouse exists on a covert, local or regional decline curve feeds into the degree of hunter additivity or the ability of a healthy population to absorb it.
I think Pa is lucky in that terrain and snow can limit much late season additivity but good to know the PGC is alert to reality and has their eyes open in favor of the bird rather than the hunter...the additivity concern is oh, so easily ignored, spun away with comments of rangewide and season long measure or even justified to provide hunters more time to hunt. How sad.
Ignoring additivity has resulted in too much loss over some parts of the ruffed grouse range as it's smaller portion feeding into a decline increased in effect as populations fell.
Best break the news of the additivity concern to your buddy in his mountain lair easily though.
Yes, baselines are important...even in a state as blessed with conditions as favorable to the ruffed grouse as Pennsylvania.
Bad things can happen to good birds anywhere.
I believe Michigan dropped or suspended their drumming routes for economic reasons....if true and if for a long length of time, it may be interesting to see the numbers upon restart.
I suppose my one concern re drumming surveys is the consistency and quality of the observers and similiarity of the conditions.
Re pheasant roadside surveys in Iowa, I know that time of day, weather and vehicle speed are part of their procedure for counts. What is the drumming survey procedure or requirements in Pennsylvania...is there a link to the info?
How traditional or unchangeable are the routes?
The biggest problem with doing drummer routes is finding enough volunteers to do the routes year after year, and setting up the routes. Most people will jump in for the first couple years, but after that they lose interest quickly and it becomes a chore that they are eager to pass on to someone else. Many people hunt grouse in areas that arent close to where they live. So now they have to travel a distance from home, and do these surveys early in the morning. If drumming surveys are like woodcock singing surveys, they have to be done with another level that includes weather conditions.
Then you have the problem that many places drumming surveys would be held behind locked gates in many places ,f the state, which requires another layer of cooperation.
Like many others, I'd love to see drumming surveys, and I'd gladly add that to the woodcock woodcock route I run, but realistically I dont see that ever happening.