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Discussion Starter #1
What habitat do you look for first? Say you drive to a state forest in PA that you've never been to before. You looked at a couple maps and have a general idea of few places to start.

Do you hit the Hemlocks first?

Do you hit the Jack Pines stands first?

Do you hit the Scrub Oak stands first?

Do you hit a random creek bottom first?
 

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Thickest stand of saplings I can find, especially if there are grapevines in or near it. Oak stands are the best because the birds (like many other animals) love the energy acorns give.

If there's deep snow, I might change up and hit a stand of pines - but only if they have branches very near the ground. Same goes for a blowdown with thick branches and lots of dead leaves on the downed treetop. Those make good thermal cover under a blanket of snow.

FWIW.
 

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When ever I hunt a new area I do my map work the night before and set a general GPS Route covering my best guesses of what appears to be the most obvious geographical areas for locating successional and broken growth.

Upon arrival at my chosen parking area, I head out toward the 1st Waypoint while following the best bird finding compass I have, my dog. I gave up trying to teach him where to find the Birds a long time ago.

My new area becomes a familiar area by keeping an accurate account of the day's happenings.

By the way I carry two GPS Units and extra batteries as there is no telling where or how far he may end up leading me.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
BirdChaser said:
When ever I hunt a new area I do my map work the night before and set a general GPS Route covering my best guesses of what appears to be the most obvious geographical areas for locating successional and broken growth.

Upon arrival at my chosen parking area, I head out toward the 1st Waypoint while following the best bird finding compass I have, my dog. I gave up trying to teach him where to find the Birds a long time ago.

My new area becomes a familiar area by keeping an accurate account of the day's happenings.

By the way I carry two GPS Units and extra batteries as there is no telling where or how far he may end up leading me.
Right, but how to you know successional habitat from maps? What type of habitat in the succession do you look for. You can't find wild grapes on a map.
 

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Try looking at Google space photos of the forest. The early succesional cuts look differant than the surrounding forest.

Go to Allegheny National Forest website
- click Recreation
- click Hunting
- click Quick links on right for Early Successional Maps
- look at locations for Young Forest 5-20 years old

Forbes Forest Areas also have such maps. I've picked them up at the ranger stations in Somerset county.

Last you can purchase maps which locate young forest areas at www.northwnd.com

These may help you get close. Then a lot of exercise is the answer.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's some good info.

Basically what I wanted to do with this thread was to provide some info for hunters new to grouse, or people wanting to try new areas who may not know about maps or different habitat. Some guys just take a drive and try to spot habitat from roads.

So basically what it's sounding like is; don't look for a certain type of trees, but look more for the clear cut areas. A little scouting on the computer and maps will go a long way before driving a long way.
 

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angus said:
That's some good info.

So basically what it's sounding like is; don't look for a certain type of trees, but look more for the clear cut areas. A little scouting on the computer and maps will go a long way before driving a long way.
Angus you got it! I moved to PA two years ago, if it wasn't for the research I did at home I don't think I would have seen a Grouse yet. Folk's just don't share certain types of habitat info, at least to me anyway.

Remember, regardless of how good an area may appear on a map, it may be another matter when you get there. A major problem for me has been Deer Fences, usually the stuff we hunt is so thick I rely on the Deer Paths to gain access to the best habitat. When the paths are not there, well need I say more.
 

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Gentlemen,
When Grouse hunting a new area in late season I look for a few things, Hemlock trees inside the cuts, decent feed and water source. The feed can change depending the habitat, however the Hemlock Trees inside or on the edge of the cuts, are the Grouses late winter safety zone and protection, in most of Pa. Large Grape vines are a plus
especially if the Hemlock Tress are near. If you have both you usually find Grouse, unless the area is way over predatorized. Scrub oak, Beach Trees and Burch Trees are good keys also, again especially with the Hemlock Trees mixed in.

Pine Creek/Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Great info Dave!!! Thank you for sharing.

I'm no grouse expert. Sure I've got a few through the years, but grouse can be intimidating for a newbie who has no idea where to start.
 

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I would echo what has already been said. I spend a considerable amount of time looking at maps, google earth, habitat maps and cuts.

Then once I have selected an area, I put boots on the ground and look for what I consider "winter" cover.

Here are some examples that have held birds from mid Dec. until the end of the season.








later in the season





Pocono Winter Cover

 

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Keep in mind, any decent cover you can find by driving around looking from the road has already been found by the 50 guys who drove around looking before you. And they have all hunted it as well. Scouting is the number one key to knowing where to find grouse. That means miles and miles of driving, hiking, exploring. Maps can be a good reference but the only way you'll know birds are there is to scout them on foot.
Yesterday we hunted a piece of prime cover that yielded 12 flushes in about two hours. No one will ever see this cover from their truck yet it's probably less than a one mile walk from the nearest road. We found it earlier this year searching for morels.
 

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Wingshot,
What you say about scouting is definitely correct, not only for grouse hunting but for all types of hunting.

That said, I just can't believe that you found a spot where you had 12 flushes in two hours. I insist that you give me precise directions to this alleged location so that I can witness it for myself! Naturally I won't shoot any of these birds - I promise.
 

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grousechaser,
Good luck on that location info, have a few of those places my
self and nobody is ever shown them, some things you just keep to your self, as a Grouse hunter.
Pine Creek/Dave
 
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