Heading North

I've been invited to go on a grouse/woodcock hunt in Gaylord, Michigan. We are going to drive and probably pull a camper. Late September/Early october. Not an exact date but looking like first week of october. Never been. I heard that the grouse in the North run on cycles? So is the cycle down or up this fall. Is the population based more on this or weather? Im green to this area of upland hunting. If anyone wants to give me an explanation that would be awesome.
 

watermen

New member
Too soon to tell, I grew up and still have property straight across the lake in WI. Last year was xtremely wet and there was a poor grouse hatch in my opinion. Half the birds that were there the year previous. Although the cycle is supposed to be on the upswing. It is a natural cycle that is affected by weather, but more of a trend, the peaks and valleys are varied. The last half or so of October is prime time due to the leaves being down and woodcock migration in full swing. It's different and fun hunting. I went to school at Uof M and stomped the lower quite abit but always had better hunting in the upper and grew up 14 miles from the border. The woodcock flight can be something to behold if you hit it right in the right spot. You;ll be in the right neck of the woods for the salmon run as well.
 

mlf3882

New member
I've been invited to go on a grouse/woodcock hunt in Gaylord, Michigan. We are going to drive and probably pull a camper. Late September/Early october. Not an exact date but looking like first week of october. Never been. I heard that the grouse in the North run on cycles? So is the cycle down or up this fall. Is the population based more on this or weather? Im green to this area of upland hunting. If anyone wants to give me an explanation that would be awesome.
I would imagine your friends will probably have the logistics of hunting worked out for ya...first week OCT should be a good time for Gaylord area, woodcock flight prob just starting, kind of depends on when fall 'hits.'
The grouse per the DNR are supposed to be trending upwards, went out with the griffon this spring before the quiet time started and the coverts I covet south of Gaylord near Traverse City (I am sure they are known to others) held good number of survivors from the fall/winter. Our winter was warmer then the last two and we had good amount of snow (lets the grouse hid from predators) so I am hopeful for this fall being good as well.
Not sure how much free time you have but if you went home via the UP you could still hunt cause we have lots of public land here plus there is are two counties north of the bridge that have a sharptail season that starts about OCT 10 - 31. It is a new season for us being open only for the past 5 years?
 
I appreciate the responses. And Im sure the details are being taken care of by the others. They had mentioned the "cycle" and I just was afraid of being clueless when they start talking about how it works up there. I'm getting to go mostly because I have dogs. They've been on woodcock down here in Missouri but never been exposed to grouse. Be a bit of a learning curve Im sure. But an adventure none the less! The farthest Ive been in Michigan is Kalamazoo. I used to play against a minor league team there that was in our league. Never been north of there.
 
I would imagine your friends will probably have the logistics of hunting worked out for ya...first week OCT should be a good time for Gaylord area, woodcock flight prob just starting, kind of depends on when fall 'hits.'
The grouse per the DNR are supposed to be trending upwards, went out with the griffon this spring before the quiet time started and the coverts I covet south of Gaylord near Traverse City (I am sure they are known to others) held good number of survivors from the fall/winter. Our winter was warmer then the last two and we had good amount of snow (lets the grouse hid from predators) so I am hopeful for this fall being good as well.
Not sure how much free time you have but if you went home via the UP you could still hunt cause we have lots of public land here plus there is are two counties north of the bridge that have a sharptail season that starts about OCT 10 - 31. It is a new season for us being open only for the past 5 years?

The UP? Popular highway I take it? I was looking online, it looks like the seasons run by zone kind of how ducks work down here. Not just the migrators that go by zones? Looks like the maps pretty much cover where u can and cant go.
 

mlf3882

New member
The UP? Popular highway I take it? I was looking online, it looks like the seasons run by zone kind of how ducks work down here. Not just the migrators that go by zones? Looks like the maps pretty much cover where u can and cant go.
HWY2 goes across the UP from the Bridge it's a long ride but goes quick cause it is very scenic along the northern edge of Lake MI, and there is state land along there to hunt if desired.
The zones for upland birds (grouse, woodcock, pheasants) is 3 and split just north of Grand Rapids for zone 2 and 3 and the UP is zone 1. Gaylord is in zone 2 and limit of 5 grouse (partridge or pats per the locals) daily and 3 woodcock (I think) and is the same as zone 1. Waterfowl have same 3 zones as well.
The county of Chippewa and part of Mackinac are the ones open for sharptail. Have hunted them before and the chance of taking woodcock and pats in the same gamebag is very likely.
Also there is no regs for non-toxic shot except for waterfowl.
Hope that helps.
 
Thanks. Yeah I like putting birds in the bag. But the dogs will like getting out early this year. I take em dove hunting down here but they're a retriever only during dove season. Hopefully the weather and everything works out. Think we will be up there for 5 days.
 

s.davis

Member
Semi-related:

I will be in Traverse in October and would love to squeeze in a grouse hunt. Is there a guide service anybody might recommend within and hour or so of Traverse?

Feel free to PM.
 
Semi-related:

I will be in Traverse in October and would love to squeeze in a grouse hunt. Is there a guide service anybody might recommend within and hour or so of Traverse?

Feel free to PM.
MiForester does some guiding up there I believe. U may want to send him a private message.
 

Marsh

New member
Lots of good cover in the Pigeon River forest area. There is also a GEMS unit about 45 minutes north that might be worth taking a look at- especially during the week when traffic is down.
 

mlf3882

New member
Hi Marsh-

I have not hunted one of the GEMS areas as of yet so if you have looking for a "IMHO" here.
What are they like compared to just going on regular state land? Guess I have been skeptical of their value given how much land we have available here to hunt pats/woodcock. Or is the state trying to design what they do in MN? I have never hunted there but based on what I have read they create "lanes" for joes to walk down :confused:
Myself I am finishing up Army and anxious to get the dogs out for some warm-ups.
 
The guy I talked to that's taking me up there said that the trails are carved through the aspen groves but everything else is young forest. He said the grouse populations on the areas depend on how long the areas have been established. Some have had more work poured into them than others I guess. He said we probably wont be hunting any of those areas while we are there.
 

Marsh

New member
Hi Marsh-

I have not hunted one of the GEMS areas as of yet so if you have looking for a "IMHO" here.
What are they like compared to just going on regular state land? Guess I have been skeptical of their value given how much land we have available here to hunt pats/woodcock. Or is the state trying to design what they do in MN? I have never hunted there but based on what I have read they create "lanes" for joes to walk down :confused:
Myself I am finishing up Army and anxious to get the dogs out for some warm-ups.
Well- if you know covers in regular state and federal forests you probably would be able to add the GEMS units to check out. But the advertising they receive will make them a bit busier in general. I have hunted the Lame duck foot area (I think that is what it was called) one afternoon during the week. We hit a good woodcock flight and put up 34 WC. We also moved 14 grouse. I also walked the one near Indian River, MI and it had some great cover. I was not hunting just taking the dog for a fun run in the AM during a camping trip. Basically they are trying to do similar things as MN in these areas from my understanding. So if you are not familiar with the areas at least you can check these out. It might also provide some insight for people that are new to Grouse and Woodcock hunting to see the type of cover that they are managing for so they can target in other areas.

Hope that answers your questions.
 

Miforester

Member
The difference between GEMS and regular state or federal land is the GEMS are managed specifically and restricted to foot traffic. They are generally large tracts of habitat suitable for grouse and woodcock. They are heavily advertised much like pheasant walk-in areas out west. I have never hunted a GEM but friends who have said it looks like a herd of elephants have walked thru the stands. That being said these areas do hold birds and if hunting mid week can provide a great experience. Do a search for MI Hunt and this will provide you several different types of maps for hunting. They show forest types, focus on the yellow colors as these are aspen stands, I believe they also have a number next to the letter "A"=aspen, number is stem size, 1-3 would small stem diameter but dense stem numbers, 4-6 is pole sized stand 5-8" in diameter and 7-9 mature stand. The numbering system works for all forest types. You can also stop by the local DNR office and ask for recommended areas to hunt grouse and or maps. Some offices are only open from 8-9am if you stop by the Operation Service Centers they are open all day and just as helpful, locations would be Cadillac, Roscommon and Gaylord for the NLP, UP would be Newberry, Marquette and I'm not sure for Western UP. If you do you home work you can hunt and never see another hunter, roughly 2 million state ownered acres in both UP and NLP. Any other questions shoot me a pm.
 
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