December pheasant hunting should not be allowed.

RK Special K

New member
I love this debate. This is what this forum should be used for.

I will certainly agree on the point of hunting habit vs. habit in general. "Honeyholes" are one thing and long-term, life-cycle hbitat is another but there is SIGNIFICANT overlap. They are inseparably intertwined and joined at the hip.

I may also agree with you on the point of some human activity being good for grouse. BUT, if this is true, the following may apply:

Year MI Population(LP) Grouse numbers in their range
==== ========== ======================
1700 10,000 2 million
1920 2,000,000 5 million
2012 12,000,000 500 k
2100 40,000,000 ? 2 birds ?

If I could graph it, the population line would climb steadily upwards to the right. The grouse numbers line would form a bell with its top over 1920.

Of course, I don't know the actual numbers. This is only to illustrate a general concept. We've probably gone WAY beyond the point where human actvity is beneficial. It's a BIG downer now in the lower half of the LP. I'm interested now so I'm actually going to find out what Michigans population history is.

As I have said, there is true hope for ruffed grouse in Michigan IF we reign in willy-nilly placement of human dwellings AND manage what's left to us properly. In the LP, above a line say from Ludington to Bay City, I see some opportnity. Below that line I have my doubts. There is just too much human intrusion to overcome, cost effectively.

The UP is a whole 'nother matter. It's essentially a clean slate and is already a good place for ruffies. And it has ALL the "proper. overriding, landscape themes" for ruffed grouse. Doing what Gordon Gullion told us to do could triple or better grouse numbers up there. Creating a patchwork of edges, etc. would also vastly improve its huntability come fall(there's that aforementioned "intertwining"). Why, my gosh, it could become world renowned!

The UP will be "chuck full" of people some day. But probably not even in my grandson's lifetime.

Another case on upland birds: The SE part of the United States once had a tremendous number of wild quail. We run them little buggers out of there on a rail! I would be surprised if it held 2% of what it had 75 years ago. With habitat management gone crazy we might bring it back to 5%. Not worth it. There is just not enough raw material to work with anymore - GONE!

Exciting numbers of pheasants in Michigan, throughout their former range, is like a mirage. It will vanish every time we chase it. Can relatively small areas be improved upon? Oh, I think that is possible, but only for the benefit of a small percentage of Michigan hunters. And I suppose it is worth trying for that.
 

RK Special K

New member
Hm.... what happened to my table? I'll try again.......

Yr Pop. Bird #'s

1700 10,000 2 million

1920 2,000,000 5 million

2012 12,000,000 500 k

2100 40,000,000 ? 2 birds ?
 

RK Special K

New member
Ok, now, this is only a fantasy, a dream, so don't you deer hunters storm my house with your high-powered rifles:

Ban deer hunting in the entire UP and commit it totally to ruffed grouse. Turn it over to the Ruffed Grouse Society and let'm have at it. Throw huge mega-banquets and raffles to support it. Raffle off 500 acres up there - 500 tickets at $2,000 a crack. The money raising schemes would be endless.

Lobby congress for clearcutting funding and hedgerow/food plot plantings. Just like the CRP program for grass.

Really get with the timber outfits to do it right! Etc, etc........

Michigan's LP: Deer and turkey

Michigan's UP: Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock

It seems so fair to me!!!!! :)
 

OldDublin

New member
I suppose if one wants to guess then 2 million ruffed grouse in 1700 in Michigan would indeed fit the bill.:D
Some comments just make you smile, and some make you spit Russian Caravan tea on your computer.
Estimations would be not far different.
I believe Michigan curtailed it's drumming survey and whether drumming survey or pheasant road count, the accuracy is always in the quality of the surveyors....and the quality of the surveys themselves in years past.
They are a tool but not the sharpest one in the box.

The difference here appears to be between human activity in the grouse woods(deer hunters, nature lovers, 4-wheelers, developers, etc.) and human activity(voting, inputting at NF Review opportunities, questioning age-old hatreds such of logging, etc.) trending toward understanding the value of that healthy forest for species far beyond those we hunt ie the neo-tropicals....or, put another way, additude shift derived from education and understanding....a difficult endgame but a vital one.
One example of where understanding is helping is the Golden-winged warbler Initiative.....elevation critical but a plus it is.

Stated ad nauseum, humans spread outward.
Unstoppably.
Critters are impacted.
Unstoppably in many cases.
That's a non-starter just the same as "boy, if we 'uns could only kill hawks."
Waste of computer time to address.
It's easy to say tho as it's easy to avoid the tough questions that need addressed with ruffed grouse and other gamebirds.
As humans spread outward as a given so do humans always avoid both questions and answers that demand sacrifice or considering sacrifice....far too often, as a given.

The northern lower is in no danger of overpopulation within the lifetime of anyone's childrens here. The northern lower will continue to see development which will carry plusses and minues for the ruffed grouse.
As one heads toward longterm then the minues will likely increase...that darn Life again.
The things to watch in the U.P. are leasing, paper company woes as are occurring now, TiGs with a anrrow money focus and dumb people focusing on themselves.

I would not call this a debate, RK. ;)
 
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OldDublin

New member
Ok, now, this is only a fantasy, a dream, so don't you deer hunters storm my house with your high-powered rifles:

Ban deer hunting in the entire UP and commit it totally to ruffed grouse. Turn it over to the Ruffed Grouse Society and let'm have at it. Throw huge mega-banquets and raffles to support it. Raffle off 500 acres up there - 500 tickets at $2,000 a crack. The money raising schemes would be endless.

Lobby congress for clearcutting funding and hedgerow/food plot plantings. Just like the CRP program for grass.

Really get with the timber outfits to do it right! Etc, etc........

Michigan's LP: Deer and turkey

Michigan's UP: Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock

It seems so fair to me!!!!! :)

There goes the tea again.:cool:

If this is an example of considered thought or the RGS is actually considered a savior then the ruffed grouse faces an even tougher row to hoe than I thought.
Good Lord.
 

RK Special K

New member
OldDublin, my last post was not serious. It was intended as pure humor. If it was not for you, I'm sorry.

The major emphasis of my posts are that most former areas of upland bird abundance are not worth the money to restore. The majority, perhaps to a degree yourself, seem to feel otherwise and I absolutely will defend and debate the opposite on what I feel is based on sound observations and commom sense. I think that the number of people inhabiting the landscape is a VERY excellent way of prognosticizing the likelihood of upland bird restoration success.

And of course this is a debate, you have your views and I have mine. I don't think pheasants are worth restoring in Michigan, perhaps you do. That IS a debate. And a VERY good one for Michiganders to have!

I'm sorry but the RGS does possess some knowledge on the bird. But as far as ruffed grouse management goes, if you have a better idea on orchestrating good grouse management practices, let's hear it.

Your spitting is not only a waste of computer time but also your computer. Stop it!
 

OldDublin

New member
Forget "build it and they will come" as a given everwhere.
Understand that ruffed grouse do not face the same conditions or require the same help across the range.
Consider that understanding can require unpalatable to hunter ideas such as shorter seasons to reduce hunter additivity in late winter....and that "too late" is no reason not to try and "hurts my hunting" is an even poorer reason not to try.
Help the grouse by not focusing on the grouse!....hunters can come across as selfish and short-sighted.
Read ruffed grouse studies with a honest eye to what was said....and to what was not said or not done in the study.
Join organizations that oppose conditons helpful to all early successional species such as, in Ohio, the Buckeye Forest Council and be a well-spoken thorn.
Lend your voice at NF meetings(Plan Review and other) and take little steps in making the old growth anti-hunters blink with well-offered thought.
Support the RGS if it delivers out-of-the-box thinking such as the grouse permit on deer leases paper company land in WV....it failed for many reasons but was a sound idea as it addressed the grouse, the hunter and the company. Don't support them under the idea that they are the only game in town.
There is obviously more that can be done on a big picture or small picture level. Think about it and think beyond the obvious or the trite.

Pheasants in Michigan...a far different bird than the ruffed grouse and one which benefits from T&T, R&R and habitat that can be created in the blink of an eye, comparably.....I think that small pheasant steps are good ones. They may not lead to a SD experience in Michigan but that, as earlier stated, carries more downsides than up in today's world.

As before...
"Stated ad nauseum, humans spread outward.
Unstoppably.
Critters are impacted.
Unstoppably in many cases.
That's a non-starter....."
I have heard offered the humorous solutions and I have heard offered the simplified solutions of the Past, neither of which have delivered much under today's requirements.

Have a good day.
No further need to restate the restated.
 

RK Special K

New member
OldDublin, I never said that the northern half of the LP was to overpopulated nor did I even imply it. In fact, I strongly implied the OPPOSITE by stating that I see opportunity there for better ruffed grouse management, inhabitation practices, and dwelling placement. Even now, if I went to the Grayling area, I'd quickly figure it out and get birds. But my old haunts in Kent, Montcalm, Gratiot, Mecosta, Newaygo counties are diificult if not "dead".

In truth, I have not hunted ruffed grouse much in the last 10 years because of the changes and because my time is spent out west hunting pheasants, sharptail grouse, and huns. Perhaps, I'm a bit spoiled now.

I also agreed that a minimal amount of human activity/intervention is probably beneficial to ruffed grouse. Our early settlers did it by happenstance. I want to emphasize MINIMAL. To much human presence is almost always a sure way to decrease upland game species. During this rising presence, habitat management practices will have increasingly LESS effect. At a point, it becomes cost probibitive for the isolated gains obtained. We are FAR past that point in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for pheasants.

Hey, I can learn to hunt deer and turkey. I might like it! There is nothing wrong with either of them. Deer hunting simply has a "crouding out" effect on ruffed grouse habitat and hunting. I will add that deer hunting practices in the last 15-20 have become increasingly more pro-active and intense. Didn't Grampa simply walk deep into the woods and sit at the base of his favorite old oak tree with his brown overalls on?

1pheas4, I truely respect and appreciate your opinions, and in VERY isolated areas, pheasants can be helped in "the east". I do however strongly disagree that "despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants.......could be a thing of the future"[in the east]. It just defies reality. The landscape has changed DRASTICALLY over the last 50 years and it is NOT comimg back for pheasants. Ten years ago I believed as you do. But I've pulled my head out and can see the light. We've been delt a new hand - I picked up my five cards - yup, three with deer, 1 with turkey, and 1 with ruffed grouse.

There are areas out west that need better pheasant habitat and with relatively little effort and cost it responds with "home runs". But not in Michigan! Good grief! No way.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
1pheas4, I truely respect and appreciate your opinions, and in VERY isolated areas, pheasants can be helped in "the east". I do however strongly disagree that "despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants.......could be a thing of the future"[in the east]./QUOTE]

RK, I've been told to put the optimism away a few years ago. Indeed (for the most part) I have. My post wasn't meant to hand out a dose of "feel good". Instead, I was addressing the fact that it comes down to land management.

What good will it do to remove most of us, and have nothing but fields of emerging buck throne and honey suckle?

I've watch enormous groups of wild pheasants fly into cattails to roost outside my motel room in the town of Mitchel SD. In the 1990's I used to flush healthy numbers of wild pheasants just outside my cousins door, 20 min. west of downtown Chicago.

Managing the land made this happen, not removal of most humans. Land management is the answer. I believe increasing wildlife populations can coincide with increasing human populations with proper land management.

Will it happen on a large scale? In reality (as you said) probably not. But again, proper land management is what it takes.

Anyway, RK I figure you'll get a kick out of the optimism coming out of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Their long term wild pheasant harvest outlook is pinned at 1 millions birds a year! What do they know that we don't:confused::confused:
 
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RK Special K

New member
OldDublin and 1pheas4, I very much appreciate both of your responses. They were both refreshing and interesting.

The following is the best way I know to express my understanding of pheasants:

My Dad grew up on a farm near Standale, MI. There were plenty of pheasants around their farm and in Michigan but in the fall of 1949 both he and my uncle began going to SD(little town of Carpenter just south of Clark) with about 6 other guys. They said Michigan was good but South Dakota........WOW! It was crazy FANTASTIC! They felt like they were there to rid the countryside of these swarms....literally waves upon waves of these corn eating locusts. They were HELPING this farmer out and all the other farmers around! Pay to hunt? Never heard of such a thing! They slept in the farmers basement in sleeping bags and they ate all their meals with the family which, of course, they did pay for. Daily limits were VERY high and those were frequently surpassed they do admit. All the farmers family had licenses so it was "not a problem". The season was shorter than today. I have pictures of them grinning ear-to-ear with their WMD's beside stacks of birds 3 feet high and 12 feet long. After a week, they would return to Michigan after shooting nearly 500 hundred birds. My Dad quit going after 1963 and the group kind of splintered off soon thereafter.

Fast-forward to 2012: Not much at all has changed in South Dakota. Why, I bet if you took a time machine from 1960 to 2012, you might hardly perceive a difference - a few more abandoned, dilapidated farmsteads, a couple fancy motels on the edge of town, Wal-Mart, Cabella's in Mitchell - that's about it - yawn. AND you could still drive for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles..........and see nothing but the horizon in the far, far distance and endless, boring, tedious, gargantuan seas of corn, grass, soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, grass, soybeans, corn, sunflowers, grass, wheat, grass, soybeans, corn, grass, sunflowers, wheat, grass, soybeans, grass - from one side of the horizon to the other.........and, and, and.................
PHEASANTS!!!!!!!............EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, time has not stood still in Michigan nor been kind to it. It's now a tired, old, worn out rag of a hag. Infected by irreversable, massive viral intrusions and expansions into its fragile pheasant environment by a population 10 times the size of South Dakotas. Something HAD to give!

Here's what I truely believe about pheasants:

They are close to an ALL or NOTHING proposition:

If you have everything pheasants need you will have ALL the pheasants you could possibly handle. We'll call this 100%

If you have 75% of what they need you will only have 25% of the birds.

If you have 50% of what they need you will only have 10% of the birds.

If you have 25% of what they need you will only have 3% of the birds.

I believe Michigan is now at 25% of what pheasants need. That is REALLY sad and sobering. What this means to me is that we would have to TRIPLE our "What they need factor" to obtain 25% of what we want. We have WAY to far to go to get what we DON'T want. I'm depressed already.

Pheasants are practically a praire type bird that has a preference to eat a farm type crop. Michigan is not a praire type of state and to get there I simply don't think it is even close to possible anymore. It amazes me how damn close we got in the 30's, 40's and 50's and we "faked it" real good for that "blink of an eye" period. But we stand naked now, as the true imposter we are, is exposed.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
I believe Michigan is now at 25% of what pheasants need. That is REALLY sad and sobering.
Indeed it is. Particularly when considering what the pheasant requires to survive and even thrive. It doesn't take much!!! He tolerates us fairly well in comparison to other game birds within N. America.

We've managed to find a way to screw him over too. Sad and sobering.:(
 

OldDublin

New member
OldDublin and 1pheas4, I very much appreciate both of your responses. They were both refreshing and interesting....

I would add accurate, thought-provoking and independent of high-five interest to both as well. :)

If you were/are trying to incite a discussion based upon the idea that population growth delivers negative effects to gamebird populations, specifically pheasant or Bonasa U, then that would be, as said, a non-starter....I confidently believe folks reading this message board need little convincing along those lines.
Principally because many of us have lived the event.

However, what many here appear interested in is providing a pheasant experience for others(kids and dogs especially) and themselves.....often in areas which have few birds.
Either few remaining for myriad reasons or total absences for additional reasons.
Not everyone had or knew relatives who had, and I would add never should have had, experiences with pheasants resulting in piles of gone-home pheasants high enough to repel blue-painted Picts.
As with the common photos of ruffed grouse overflowing bushel baskets, that was a sign of times which would carry, again stated, too many negatives or was of a time of understandable and important "growth" and one for which folks would have benefitted from a bit of restraint.

A SD pheasant experience is not really needed, imho, by a kid or a dog...they seldom or don't really have the comparative experience to understand and appreciate the difference or, basically, their concept of happy and enough does not fall beyond the moment.
Because of that there is a place for the less than jaw-dropping re pheasants...and that lower level of glut can be provided by a released bird experience, a small population bird experience on the farm of a family friend or even a Preserve.
Any of those three can be provided by a level of pheasants in Michigan or Pennsylvania or wherever.
The real sticker is whether funds are available to support the program, funds use is viewed honestly and apportioned fairly over time, enough folks support the effort and...a good dose of luck is spooned down the throat.
In other additional words, RK...kids likely would not know an "imposter" from Adam's off ox and if a few birds can yield a few good experiences under some applied commonsense, then good.

Also good that you did not apply the % reasoning to the ruffed grouse issue....there are few true comparisons between those species and.......I have a cup of tea again.
 
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RK Special K

New member
Hold the tea! Hold the tea! :)

No, my previous post had nothing to do with ruffed grouse. Their needs have their own peculiarities. Different subject matter.

And don't get to rapped up in my % numbers. Feel free to adjust them as you might feel they should be. They are only meant to be "rough" approximations based upon a certain level of understanding that I have. You may have different takes based upon your understanding.

I am more confident in my pheasant %'s than I am with the table I prepared previously for ruffed grouse. It was "off the cuff" but still reflected a general idea:

To simplify:

No people - 30 birds

20 people - 90 birds

80 people - 20 birds

Where the maximum is 100 for both people and grouse. It trys to reflect a concept of a little bit of human agitation is great - too much is really bad.

I agree, we don't need the god-awful amount of pheasants that SD had in 1949 or perhaps even what Michigan had back then. A good experience pheasant hunting shouldn't have to based on those bird numbers.

I have one more "fun" analogy for Michigan pheasants:

The situation is not like re-arranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. We were there between 1963 and 1970. The situation is like re-arranging the deck chairs with a remote mini-sub, after she's been on the bottom for 42 years, hoping we're going to raise her up and restore her back to full glory!

I am going to take a break from this for awhile and LISTEN to reasons why I might be wrong on all of this..........and I hope like hell that I am! I really do!
 

RK Special K

New member
Just a reminder on a patient in critical condition:

Iowa is where Michigan was in say 1967-68. She's hit an iceberg and taking in water fast. Flares are being shot in the night sky. An SOS is frantically being tapped with morse code. Will her water tight compartments hold and keep her from sinking? She might have a bit more raw material to work with than what Michigan had in our time of crisis but it's close, man is it CLOSE! The western half might be salvagable, especially the NW. And let's not forget SW Minnesota. The eastern half appears to me as too far gone. Crop prices, land values, loss of CRP, people factor - with some luck and effort, a couple of these factors could change for the better in the west. A lot of her landscape mimicks the praire ok - not great but it's adequate.

The California and Carpathia are around, but, of couse, they would only serve to rescue the surviving hunters and carry them to safety in SD, ND, MT, NE, and KS. Let's hope we don't need them! I hate going to funerals.
 

FCSpringer

Super Moderator
Good god, LOL. Enough allready. Go enjoy the out doors and be happy. You could move to islamabad and see how that pans out.:rolleyes:
 

Tireguy

New member
December hunt

December hunting is not the problem. Shooting roosters is not going to hurt the population. What we need to do is reduce the predators, coyotes, house cats, possums and etc. If we ever want to see pheasants in Michigan of any quantity we have to deal with the predators. I have driven through the thumb of Michigan after the crops are down and counted 20 plus house cats (and not on porches or in barns). I live in Michigan and see lots of good habitat for birds, but no birds. I also believe that is the problem with our Ruffed Grouse population, even though the birds are cyclical the highs keep getting lower every time.
 

mmelton

New member
furs

we could get rid of a hell of a lot of racoons and coyotes that would help for sure. In the 70s people in michigan could make a living of collecting furs but there just isn't much money in it anymore
 

RK Special K

New member
South Dakota has certainly as many predators as Michigan and probably many, many times MORE per square mile.

It's HABITAT! If you removed every last pheasant predator in Michigan, you would NOT see a significant rise in bird numbers. See my previous posts. There is simply no room at the INN here in Michigan for large numbers of pheasants, with or without predators.

In my book, predators are more than welcome to co-exist and even thrive within the context of good/excellent pheasant habitat. But this may be closer to the truth: Great pheasant habitat promotes large #'s of pheasants and in turn, good pheasant habitat is probably not as good for their predators. Bad pheasant habitat is probably better habitat for predators. That's why you see so many.

The habitat in SD and "out west" is so overwhelmingly in favor of pheasants that you hardly recognize larger predator numbers. The number of birds WAY exceeds the ability of predators to significantly impact them - even at higher predator #'s than in Michigan.

Pheasants will become virtually extinct in Michigan in less than 40 years - well, about like New Jersey, Maryland or Massachusetts. Are there any wild birds in those states?

I don't hunt ruffed grouse on the plains of Nebraska and nor would I ever consider improving the habitat for them in Nebraska. I would hunt them in northern MI, WI, and MN and improve habitat there for them. I don't hunt pheasant in the wooded, broken up farmland of Michigan and nor would I ever consider improving habitat for them in Michigan. It's WAY to far GONE! I hunt them in SD, ND, and MT and pheasant habitat projects there reap HUGE rewards. My gosh, what is all the fuss about - hunt them where they like to live and quit trying to force round pegs into square holes!
 

OldDublin

New member
At the risk of continuing a pretty well hashed idea....Habitat is not always the answer....it is the the shallow one.

FWIW, we in Ohio have some good and some developing ruffed grouse habitat now...and few grouse, other than secreted in pockets or holding their breath in a quiet cove.
There is a theory mostly related to deer called the Predator Pit, or some such.
Basically, once deer are reduced by hunting say or removal of too many does, etc. then the predators, ie coyote, effectively prevent the deer from prospering back....I may have not explained it well but...the general idea is out there....fully backed, or not.
Habitat, at some point, simply can not succeed alone as a reviver of any critter population.....takes more to climb out of the pit they find themselves in with circling predators all around.

For ruffed grouse I have been saying much the same for years....once the population slides so far down the decline curve then even the best of habitat will yield little positives. What needs additionally addressed are all the smaller factors of decline from hunter additivity and beyond. Factors that a healthy gamebird population can more easily absorb....but, most everyone first yells the easy and trite...Habitat!
It is not as simple as that everywhere for the ruffed grouse(I wish that it were) and I would guess that it is not the same with pheasants either....tho they do respond to habitat...quicker, along with being aided by a helping hand from the release truck.

IF you removed every, single predator in Michigan then you would indeed see more pheasants, imho.....you would see them where habitat exists and in habitat much more marginal than any specie requires that is strafed by various predators day and night.
You would not see them in a ShopKo parking lot...that would be asking too much.
But....it is all of little importance as predators, 4-legged and 2, will not be removed and habitat by the nature of us humans will continue to be reduced and negatively affected....as but two points.
None of that tho is any reason to grind under a boot heel any stab at helping some pheasant populations for some folks, often young and local folks...if, as I earlier mentioned, some commonsense, perspective and sound limits are applied to the venture.

The much talked about SD and other western states have their own issues with prarie chicken and sage grouse and even sharptail declines, some short-term and some long-term...some even likely to be occassioned by pheasants and what they have brought...and others tracking man's footprints.
Gamebird populations will always be in flux and birdhunters will always need to be adaptable to the real world....as it changes.
 
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RK Special K

New member
I agree with the term "shallow" if, by definition, these are MICRO habitat projects within a vast arena of very marginal, declining, and adversarial MACRO habitat themes.

Generally, when I use the term "habitat", I mean immense, seemingly endless amounts of "foundational" habitat. This would be "macro-habitat" or, in other weords, the "overwhelming landscape theme" as a required base.

Within this macro-habitat theme, small, micro-habitat improvements are VERY beneficial. Without a tremendously expansive, macro-foundation and background, micro projects are almost useless.
 
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