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Discussion Starter #1
I just want to know about what to look for, what a covert is, and how big they are. Am not interested in learning where your grouse spots are at all, I have my own.


I hear the term a lot and am wondering what it exactly means. Is this just an area that has grouse, or an area you would expect grouse. How big are these coverts usually. I have a few grouse "spots" where I always see them or flush them. They tend to be small though. maybe 50 yd wide by 100yd long. Once I get out of these areas, I don't typically see any more grouse.

Here is my question. Say I hunt the "covert" where I shot my grouse on Saturday. We flushed 5 birds. I got one of them, If I go back in there again and say get lucky and get 2. Should I move on and not hunt this covert until next year. I don't want to over hunt a producing grouse spot, and want to conserve what is there and leave some seed for next year.

Do grouse spend most of their lives in this 50yd by 100 yd area, as many of these spots, that is all the bigger the area is. It seems as thought once I enter this "zone" I will flush grouse, and after I walk through I will not see any more grouse.

How big is their "home range" if you will?

What do you look for when picking a grouse spot. My favorite spot, where I got the grouse this weekend, you could not walk a step with out hitting grouse tracks. There are quite a few large brush piles, with grape vines and such going up trees and such, some small plants with red berry looking things on them, and green briar, a few oak trees but not many. I walked above and below this strip and all of the tracks were in this little rectangle.
 

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Mike
I'm still learning how to ID the best habitat, so I'm in the same boat.

I started here with this book.
Grouse Hunter's Guide: 2nd Edition

pm me your email (if you want) and i'll send you some pdf's I've come across that will also help get you started.

I'm like you, in that I grew up a deer hunter. But caught the grouse bug pretty bad as an adult (or at least as an adult child
)
 

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Buy a copy of the book 'Ruffed Grouse' from Stackpole Books, part of their wildlife series. Should be able to pick up a copy on Amazon. It's the most complete book on the ruffed grouse I've ever seen.
 

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I have been hunting small covers for the last few years and it seems to be pretty hit or miss. I havent hunted any large woods to know what the differnce is.
 

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Uh-oh, bowmike. The predictions from your "Happiest Day of My Hunting Career" post are coming true - You're turning into "BirdMike"!

Welcome to the fold!
 

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The Appalachian Cooperative Grouse Research project states that home ranges were calculated for 1,054 grouse based on 67,814 telemetry locations. Adult and juvenile females and juvenile males had larger home ranges than adult males. Females with broods had larger home ranges (39 ha) than females whose broods failed (15 ha). In oak-hickory sites, both female and male home ranges increased following years of acorn failure (20 ha to 52 ha in females and 7 to 27 ha in males).

A Hectare (HA) is roughly 12,000 square yards. So the home range for a grouse is 84,000 – 624,000 square yards. Your 50 X 100 yard cover is 5000 square yards. I would guess that the area in which you found the birds is just one of their many food sources, though it may be a preferred one at this time of year. They probably spend much of their time in “escape” type covers (clear cuts?) outside of this food source.
 

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Great question Mike.

Great answer dap.

I'm extremely new to grouse hunting my self and try to soak up as much info as possible. So far my best learning experience was a trip to Maine. There were so many birds and so much great cover it was easier to see where they like to hang out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
grousechaser said:
Uh-oh, bowmike. The predictions from your "Happiest Day of My Hunting Career" post are coming true - You're turning into "BirdMike"!

Welcome to the fold!
What gave it away? My avatar change, or increased posts in the small game forum?
 

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BowMike
Lets go a little further with this Covert information.
In the big woods there can be many different grouse Covert
locations depending on the size of the mountain you are hunting. For example a mountian that is 10 or more miles long can have 10 - 20 Grouse covert location on it, depending on how much the coverts over lap with each other.
Thru the years the RGS/PGC Grouse reasearch projects have identified approximate
area sizes of Grouse coverts, however in reality these covert areas can vary greatly depending on habitat food mass and predators. However once a hunter finds a long term covert area, unless something drastic happens it will
remain in that general 1 mile location until the forest changes, and if there is logging to keep the forest in constant regrowth the coverts will remain for darn near ever. In the big forest with all the side logging roads and Deer paths Grouse can flourish, remember Grouse are edge birds and live, feed and reproduce on these edges in the big forest, especially with downed trees for drumbing sights. On just one of our mountains in my home area there
are over 20 different active covert locations, in some of these coverts there are as many as 30 Grouse, not many times here in Pa do you get to see most of the birds in one area however, Pa has way to may predators unfortunately. However if you put in your time, God rewards you when you least expect it. My buddy Ken on his very 1st Grouse hunt witnessed over 30 Grouse grouped together along one of our big logging roads, and taking a wall hanger of a Grouse he needless to say, is hooked on Grouse hunting for ever, he now has his own young Gordon Grouse dog, and returns to hunt with us each season. The more prime habitat in the big forest the more covert locations develop and the more the Grouse population expands. Having helped with both the old RGS/PGC study here in Potter County and the one in Somerset County also, it is my opinion that Grouse Coverts flourish best in large well managed forests. This is why in the late 1800 to about 1906 our Grouse population here in Pa was just incredible, our big forests were in all the different growth stages and constantly logging was being done, and flying predators were being shot on sight, safe guarding our small game populations. Pa's Grouse limit was 10 birds a day, because covert locations were able to develop every where thru out the big forests. Unfortunately for the Pa Grouse hunter forest mismanagement and illegal federal treaties have drastically changed Pa's Grouse population today.
Pine Creek/Dave

A prime example of some of Pa's properly managed Forest, on one of our beautiful Pa Grouse mountains.
 

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Pine Creek

A darn good explanation. I was just lurking; however, I just had to reply and let you know! Thanks
 

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bowmike said:
What gave it away? My avatar change, or increased posts in the small game forum?
A little bit from Column A and a little bit from Column B. Believe me, I recognize the symptoms.

To offer something actually helpful instead of just smarta-- comments, here's a link to the Appalachian Grouse Cooperative research report that dap referenced. Give it a read. It's good stuff.

Unlike the seminal research done by Gordon Gullion on ideal grouse habitat in upper Midwest forests, this research focuses on our region of the US. While it's pretty technical and a little dry to read, it'll give you some key pointers that'll help identify the habitat you're looking for. Better yet, it'll help separate marginal habitat from excellent.

One tip from the report - acorns!
 

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grousechaser,
I fully understand what you are saying about Gullions'
midwest Grouse study, however for his area of the country he was pretty much on the money. In reality the RGS/PGC study done right here in Potter County Pa is very very accurate, and went on for 7 years the 1st time and 3 more after that. We learned a great deal from studying how Grouse were living and dying in our Pa forests. The 1st generation tracking collars were in fact responsible for collecting data on how the Grouse lived & died. That in itself along with actually finding out that in the big Pa forest human sport hunting had no effect on the Grouse population what so ever, really up set a lot of politicians who helped fund the studies, and some of the RGS people also. Thank God for the PGC and Head Grouse Biologist Bill Palmer. In reality the track of forest closed to hunting had less Grouse on it, than the exact same forest that was open to Grouse hunting right next to it, on the same mountain range, after the study was completed. Man the Feds and the RGS did not want those numbers reported, and with the absolute proof of how 80% of the Grouse were parishing after they reached flight age, (by avion predators), the Feds really wanted to bury this particular RGS/PGC Grouse study, and actually tried to stop the study, before it was finally published. It took another 3 additional years before it was finally released, extending the study, hoping for a different out come, that certain people wanted to be able to report. Infact few people for along time actually knew the study took place, the Potter County study did not further the agenda, the funding just faded away. The study results showed that in the big forest sport hunting had zero effect on the over all Grouse population and that above 80% of all mature Grouse are killed by flying predators. So the cover up started, there had to be something wrong with the Potter County RGS/PGC Grouse study.
Pine Creek/Dave
 

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Dave…Nicely put but is there anything we can do as hunters about Avian predators…Is the PGC, RGS, PF/QF, etc. doing anything about this?

On another note…How do grouse move about in their territory. Do they pretty much walk where they are going unless they are flushed?
 

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jamesh,
Because of the treaties the feds have illegally made with
other countries, there is little hunters can do to control flying predators right now without stepping outside the law, which I do not advocate what so ever, however if all the sportman got together and put massive political pressure on our elected Senators, we could make things change, other countries do not enforce these predator treaties, only ours does, it was a gun control sham from the beginning and Carter & his democratic liberal buddies in the US Senate got away with it. No small game in the woods to hunt, the less the kids want to own and use guns.

As for how Grouse move about, 1st pick up a copy of Walrods'
book, A Grouse Hunter Guide lots of factual information in
that particular book. Grouse spend most of their lives walking around on the forest floor foraging for food, in reality they walk in circles, that get larger and larger as the bird becomes older and more mature, now these circle are not perfect circles by any means, however they do run in many different directions forming rough figure 8, most times unless the food mass changes or the area is over predatorized a Grouse will live and die in the same 1 mile area, known to us as a Grouse Covert, their living territory as you call it. There can be many different coverts in a large mountain forest, the more logging roads that form edges the better for the Grouse population, in a forest that has the right food mass and habitat for safety. In the 1800's up until about 1910, Pa had the very best Grouse habitat, and a massive Grouse population, with a 10 Grouse per day limit. If you would like to know more factual information on Grouse and woodcock, purchase 2 books by John Alden Knight, both his Woodcock & Grouse books are outstanding factual bioligical information, Knight was one of Pa's fore most Grouse & Woodcock Biologists, and one great Grouse and Woodcock hunter in his own right. His actual experience in the Grouse woods is only matched by very very few.
Pine Creek/Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I just bought the grouse hunters guide last night for my phone. Great book so far! Learning a lot from that book. He gos into detail about what to look for and such, but also gives a few of his stories as well.
 

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Pine creek...I would be very interested in the PGC study conducted in potter county. Do you have a link you could provide? I knew about the study in centre county on the barrens but never heard of this one. Much appreciated!!!
 

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I had also read quite a bit of "The Barrens Grouse Habitat Management Study". Since it was funded by the PGC, Bill Palmer published a report on it every year. I don't remember any such reports on a 10 year Potter County study with telemetry tracking collars.

What years was the study done? Do you have a link to it, or a hard-copy that you could maybe scan and post the header and summary pages? Like Barberry, I'd be really interested in seeing it.
 

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I google searched "potter county grouse study"... in three of the first four results had links to various online upland forums. One was this very topic on HPA as number 1, results 3 and 4 were threads in which someone with the username 'Ryman Gun Dog' paraphrased this same sort of thing.

http://gundogforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=81&t=26097

http://bbs.shootingsportsman.com/showthread.php?3596-Ethical-Grouse-amp-Woodcock-Hunting/page5

Google search "centre county grouse study" and the results are very different.

Hmph?
 

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PC Dave and anyone else, While I share no love of Carter as President may I suggest you find a copy of

<span style="text-decoration: underline">A Hunter's Heart </span> Honest Essays of Blood Sport
Collected by David Petersen and you may be inclined to realize that President Carter was infact a bonafide hunter and fisherman throughout his life... When you read "A Childhood Outdoors" by Jimmy Carter you might see the man in a different light.

by the way, the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 was a tad before his time... but in fairness, he did add to it with USSR, but the treaty cannot be laid at his feet in it's entirety.
 
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