December pheasant hunting should not be allowed.

1pheas4

Super Moderator
In the mid-nineties, the RR was paved over and made into a bike trail - bikes, skate boards, baby strollers now pass thru the middle of it.
This is a very common case for many of us RK. Just down the street from where I live used to be a pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit, deer mecca. A reporter (can't recall his name) used to write articles in the sporting section of the local newspaper about one of the roads cutting through this area. Most of the time you could see pheasants along the road side. Lot's and lot's of pheasants. Even in people's back yards looking for food in the winter. Pheasants!

It was just beautiful until the early 1990's when development started in that area. Today, it's all roof tops. All of it. I drive through and see my old favorite creek running under a bridge along the road. It was a wood duck honey hole at one time. Some of the hedgerows are still in place due to small creeks running through them. Now they all have houses backed right up to them.

I drive my wife nuts every time we drive through there because I tell stories about how I shot a long tailed rooster where that house sits, or I bagged a double on wood ducks behind that house there.

I was looking over some bagged game pictures the other day from back there. Two very nice "ring-less" roosters, a rabbit, and some wood ducks, mallards, black ducks, Hungarian partridge. The area had them all! I can go on and on my friend. It's disgusting what our local politicians have allowed developers to do to our land. They want that tax revenue. I guess I shouldn't go there with that one. Sorry.
 
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OldDublin

New member
Certainly Progress and People make a difference.
Especially when it comes to Leasing, urban sprawl, developments of all manner, glamour game of the moment and a Public misuderstanding of what constitutes a healthy forest.
This is clear in many eastern states and for many species, from gamebirds like the ruffed grouse to non-game species such as the golden-winged warbler.
The West being no stranger to the same condition, degree being the only difference...ie, the sage grouse.
That same Progress tho is not new and has often carried benefits to the country.
We all tend to look at progress from too narrow a perspective and too short a time span.

And that element of degree is where Michigan is lucky in that while Michigan has much farmable land, it also has much ground that will never be developed or developed beyond a recreation level. Add in the available corporate land where the nature of doing business benefits much game and non-game. Then there is the CF Act...Michigan may be whistling up a string re pheasants in many ways, in other ways it, and the other great lake states, possess far more plusses than negatives for gamebirds....even considering the unstoppable nature of human growth.
One can rant about the obvious human factor, and as a resident of Ohio I have seen far more gamebird negatives than any Michigander, but that fat lady won't stop singing.
Same as folks complaining about federally protected raptors...that decline factor also hears the big lady's song.

The only solution, East or West, is education of the Public as to what is being lost, some creative out-of-the-box thinking regarding answers and an admission and recognization of several points.
Some of those being, all the factors present in any gamebird decline must be acknowledged; change is constant; less can be lived with and often is in the eye of the beholder; some gamebirds such as the ruffed grouse, are inherently weak by their wonderful nature and, extiraption is not abnormal.
Mostso with any introduced species.
And every gamebird species should not be put everywhere...the turkey is a wonderful example of that idea and the pheasant also, tho to a lesser degree.
 
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RK Special K

New member
The Ruffed Grouse Society is a good organization and does some good work, especially on bigger, more remote, areas that are in need of clearcutting, etc.

They should begin to focus more on preventing the previously mentioned suburban ABUSE of our rural farmland and adjacent low-lying scrub woods and upland woods, for that matter. Non-farm houses should be allowed ONLY within SHORT distances of existing urban/suburban cities or villages. NOT 15 miles north of town on a 40 acre chunk of Farmer Joes farmland! That's a POOR use of property if we value the future of hunting at all.

Pheasants can't be saved in Michigan but Ruffed Grouse in the LP are on the edge of a cliff and could be saved because we have the basics to support them.

Another disturbing trend I've noticed: Deer hunters erecting elevated shooting towers and clearing out scrub brush for "shooting lanes". I don't be-grudge them the woods and there far more of them than us lowly grouse hunters. Just one more "nail in the coffin" for us Michigan uplanders, though.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
Pheasants can't be saved in Michigan
RK, I know you've made your statement on the basis of modern farming practices where little hope remains for responsible land management on the part of far too many:(, but pheasants can come back.

It doesn't take a lot to give pheasants what they need to thrive in comparison to other game birds such as the sharptail, or prairie chicken.

With some help from us (human beings) pheasants can very well come back in strong numbers to Michigan, just as they can in other states like IL, IN, OH, etc. Pheasants do okay in their native lands, but their numbers explode when humans give them proper habitat within our agriculture range.

Will it happen? Can't say. I hope so, but hope isn't enough. Continued action on our part is what can make the ring-neck come back to Michigan and other states. He can come back, if we let him.:)
 

OldDublin

New member
Actually, the RGS traditionally and incorrectly look to small acreages for the grip & grin photo ops on private lands.
What they took for granted was the commercial acreages....especially re public access and so public viewing of what early successional delivers for many species.
Only as of late have they been addressing national forest issues to any extent.
Frangmentation of those small parcels is the kicker....Michigan tho has an abundance of land serving as grouse sinks to help ease the fragmentaion concern....from below-the-bridge to mid-michiganish.
Below that, I would agree, the grouse face challenges more common to most of the appalatchians.
Michigan proper will remain, with the other great lakes states, as grouse country for the far foreseeable future, as the plusses are many.
Local extirpation tho is not unexpected at the edges of that portion of the ruffed grouse range.

Deer hunters can be a problem but cutting brush is good as can be any lane which lets the sunlight hit the forest floor.
They are bad as they are often dog-killing SS&S folks, they run deer feeders which feed the nest predators, they skirmish line grouse hunt the woods after deer season in many areas and the DNRs find their preferred game to be as easy to manage as 1+1 thereby sapping money and energy from the management of the total of a state's game.
Deer are bad because they can stunt natural regeneration and early successional....I simply wish the deer hunters would not worry about G2s and kill more deer......and feed the raccoons less!!!

To an extent, Pheasants will work in Michigan.
 

RK Special K

New member
Here's the other, farther reaching, "virus" that the rural countryside is infected with when we let "cityslicker, nature/animal lov'n, suburbanites invade "farmland". Here's the scenario:

"Hey Mr. Farmer, I came out here for peace, quiet and to enjoy the wildlife, NOT kill it! When my wife and daughters hear the crack-crack-crack of gunfire, they have visions Columbine and cry uncontrolably. Since we paid you $350,000 for this 40 acres, the least you could do for us is post your property and stop all this senseless killing!"

"Well.... gollie.....um..... Mr. Slicker, sir, for 5 generations we've allowed hunting on our prop......Gotta stop ya right there, excuse me Mr. Farmer but how much did we pay you for this proprty? Well, well, well......quite a bit, sir. That's right and you should be a good neighbor and stop this insanity. Well, my hunter friends won't be happy but.....Stop again - Did they pay you $350,000 to hunt?"

This is a bit dramatized, only to get my point across. I also don't want to stereotype either. Many people move to the country to hunt also. But, on this issue, I think they should drive there and hunt, not LIVE in it.
 

OldDublin

New member
I understand that any neighborhood can change and, so-called, non-hunters often edge out from populated areas.
I know that farms get sold that used to be open to hunting and the new owners now lease the hunting rights or set up their own deer feeders.
I have seen fields destined to be airports and schools.
Also witnessed locals on 4-wheelers riding roads and potting sitting grouse....I hear the key is to never turn off the engine.

Might be nice to fence off a property from being sold to the wrong folks or to fence in some favored decade of the past but in reality that will never happen.
All the while the tough decisions necessary for the questionable solutions remain unaddressed.
 

RK Special K

New member
1pheas4, I truely appreciate the optimism, but for me, there are just WAY to many IF's in the Michigan Pheasant Equation. Could we get a few, relatively small areas, in several counties to have decent bird numbers - I suppose, but we would all have to have our backs to the cracking dam, pushing with all our might to barely stave off the inevitable. It would last for a few years until we ran out of money and the will to hold back the pressure. And I doubt that at its peak, it would serve enough hunters.

Another issue with Michigan is this: The value of property is, on average, even as farmland, to high for it to be commited to pheasant habitat. It's cost prohibitive on a long-term basis. Property out west is expansive, habitat condusive and CHEAP! Well, a lot cheaper than Michigans, let's put it that way. Ya baby, we can work with that, cost effectively.

In 2001, when I first went out west to hunt birds, I looked around in complete awe..........oh......oh.....oh.... I see! I see! Now this here is REAL pheasant country........THIS is what it takes! There ain't no way, no how that Michigan will EVER have this. Nope, not in claustrophobic Michigan. I get it now - as the lightbulbs in my head went nuts!

It's probably much more cost effective for Michigan pheasant hunters to get in their SUV, drive a day westward to "pheasant land", pay for a motel for 5 days, then drive back. Maybe, even do this twice a year. Probably more cost effective than "holding back the dam".

Michigans whole schematic is hostile to pheasants - go with the flow.....go west young men. And old too!

All of the above said, I truely hope the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative gets some traction and we at least get some wild, huntable numbers, somewhere.
 

RK Special K

New member
On Ruffed grouse habitat:

Clearcutting, generally, but especially clearcutting OLD stands of Aspen is VERY beneficial to grouse BUT, totally clearing out grape tangles, dogwoods, small aspen shoots, and other low growing scrub brush while cutting off the low branchs of old aspens and other large trees to expose a barren forest floor is "skull and crossbones" for grouse. Add intensive human activity to this barren floor in the form of ATV's, snowmobiles, and lots of hikers and grouse are LONG GONE!

There is no redeeming grouse benefit from what deer hunters did to another 240 acre property near Cedar Springs, MI. My buddy and I found this cover in the fall of 1988 - shot 4 birds off from it in 1.5 hours. 85% of it was A+ grouse cover: thick tangles, dogwood, medium size aspen, everything a grouse craves. The 4 birds were beginners luck on that property but for the next 4 years it was always fun and good for a bird or two.

Fast forward to 2002: Deer hunters had taken over the property! Erected FIVE 30 foot high towers on the property and cleared out almost every low growing vegatation on the property while leaving all the big oaks, ash, and now aging aspen trees. THE best part of the property were these god-awful thick tangles beside a wide drainage ditch. 350 yards along the thickist side were COMPLETELY removed of ALL vegatation with towers erected on each end of this 350 yard stretch - "gotta see'm while they're get'n a sip of water".

Ok, enough rag'n on the deerhunters. They simply have a different purpose and it's NOT good for grouse.
 

OldDublin

New member
On Ruffed grouse habitat:

Clearcutting, generally, but especially clearcutting OLD stands of Aspen is VERY beneficial to grouse BUT, totally clearing out grape tangles, dogwoods, small aspen shoots, and other low growing scrub brush while cutting off the low branchs of old aspens and other large trees to expose a barren forest floor is "skull and crossbones" for grouse. Add intensive human activity to this barren floor in the form of ATV's, snowmobiles, and lots of hikers and grouse are LONG GONE!

There is no redeeming grouse benefit from what deer hunters did to another 240 acre property near Cedar Springs, MI. My buddy and I found this cover in the fall of 1988 - shot 4 birds off from it in 1.5 hours. 85% of it was A+ grouse cover: thick tangles, dogwood, medium size aspen, everything a grouse craves. The 4 birds were beginners luck on that property but for the next 4 years it was always fun and good for a bird or two.

Fast forward to 2002: Deer hunters had taken over the property! Erected FIVE 30 foot high towers on the property and cleared out almost every low growing vegatation on the property while leaving all the big oaks, ash, and now aging aspen trees. THE best part of the property were these god-awful thick tangles beside a wide drainage ditch. 350 yards along the thickist side were COMPLETELY removed of ALL vegatation with towers erected on each end of this 350 yard stretch - "gotta see'm while they're get'n a sip of water".

Ok, enough rag'n on the deerhunters. They simply have a different purpose and it's NOT good for grouse.
RK,
1988-2002 would be 14 years and sure to oncoming death to many grouse coverts, especially aspen-based......succession is relentless.
Aspen with a stem density to best suit grouse does not last. If there were medium aspens with the extra undergrowth you mentioned then that cover was old in 2002 and earlier. In areas of high bird populations, comparably, old cover will indeed hold grouse but use may be more limited, certainly shots easier for hunters....the cover is simply past prime.
Hardwood coverts age as well.
I would guess the age of that cover did not help and on a covert basis hunter additivity in any season is a possibility...especially if the cover and surrounding cover was fragmented and growing older with this one.
Yes, the deer hunter, non-hunter intensive activity and hunter activity, not limited to deer hunter brush removal, likely played a part as well....very possibly in flushing the grouse in the later season and so opening them to avain predators and kicking them off their preferred homerange where the grocery store was open.
A person, hunter or not, does not have to shoot a ruffed grouse to kill it!
And, as with all ruffed grouse declines, one can never smartly point to a single black hat cause.

Deer hunters as a problem for ruffed grouse exist more as I earlier described.
Deer hunters as a problem for ruffed grouse hunters exists as you just described.
There is a difference.
 

RK Special K

New member
Again, the root cause of Michigan's upland bird woes is this: PEOPLE, too many of them!

Too many recreationalists

Too many houses where they don't belong

Too many deer hunters and turkey hunters

Too many! Too many! Too many!

It's just WAY to crouded and claustrophobic in Michigan. We suffocated and choked off the pheasants and in 40 years we will have sent the last hen grouse, with her chicks, running for their lives across the Mackinaw Bridge!
 

OldDublin

New member
Nope, root cause would be the attitude of people, whether they move to the country or not, hunters or not....in Michigan and beyond.

Knowing many grouse hunters in Michigan and the numbers of birds they encounter and kill....many, many ruffed grouse remain with the Trolls.
They also have an actual Cycle in Michigan, as opposed to other areas of the range....that Cycle can influence yearly bird contacts big time.

Sorry you have experienced successional issues in the grouse woods, however, that is a common problem more and more, everywhere...as with human intrusions into coverts and covers.
If you live in Michigan tho and are a grouse hunter...then you are very lucky and should be counting your abundance of blessings.
 
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RK Special K

New member
Well, good attitude or not, it's hard to "see" the problem when we are standing smack dab in the middle of it, looking around and saying "what's the problem......hm....hm...It MUST be out THERE somewhere. We ARE the problem because we exist. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK....hello...We occupy the pheasant habitat! We're living in it! We pushed them out, then scratched our head and said "where did they go?" It's been converted to HABITAT FOR HUMANITY. To a lessor extent, this is THE same problem with grouse and will only get worse until we have about as many birds as Maryland or Massachusetts.

Oh well, those people in those two states just had a bad attitude, otherwise those states would be ruffed grouse meccas? Nope. They had decent attitudes, but their back porch now sits on top of Burton Spillers favorite covert from 1939. In those states, there simply is NO ROOM for a great attitude to work its magic.

It's infinitely inevitable. History is a perfect predictor of the future on this issue. As human occupation increases, most wildlife becomes more scarce, and finally to near extinction. I'm sure there are rare exceptions. Some faster than others but upland game birds are especially vulnerble. Oh, we will have heroic rescue efforts, but they will only move the inevitable a bit further into the future.

In a different sense, but under the same principle, we did the same to Native American Indians. We pushed them out and put them on reservations, which are nothing more than large human museums. We simply took their habitat for our own occupation! It's sad because in their own VERY special way, they are GREAT people.

Extrapolating far into the future: In 1000 years, will there be anything to hunt? I doubt it. There could be 750 BILLION people by then(exponents do wonders on numbers). The only "hunting" that will be done will be on a simulator on the 500th floor of an "outerspace-scraper" which sets on top of what used to be remote, desolate Montana ranchland.

Back to the specific issue at hand: A South Dakota farmer once offered me this bit of common sense: "In Michigan you have 12 million people and 500 thousand pheasants. In South Dakota we have 500 thousand people and 12 million pheasants!" It really isn't any more complicated than that.

Boys, it's high noon, opening day in South Dakota! LET'S GO HUNT!
 

RK Special K

New member
Also, I agree that Aspen age in the grouse range is AN issue, BUT it is NOT the OVERRIDING issue to which I address: Because of the number of people in Michigan generally and the overwhelming greater number of deer hunters versus grouse hunters, the deer hunters croud us and our concerns out. I understand - this is America - the majority rules. There is GREAT strength in numbers.

If there were less people, AND, in this case, many less deer hunters and their corresponding pressure, that 240 acre parcel might be available for grouse habitat management. Although, realistically, that property would have still held birds today because it was plenty diverse. Would some of it need clearcutting by now - oh, sure, but it was by no means a "dead" cover in 2001. That said, it would not do much good to exist as an island of grouse habitat amongst a sea of surrounding, deer hunter occupied, decaying,
"abused", deer range.
 

OldDublin

New member
I believe Mr. Spiller was at home a bit more north and sometimes west of those two states...tho he may have made a hunting trip to either.

Portions of Marlyand were good grouse hunting and some, I reckon, would still be found.
Many say it was good ruffed grouse hunting since there is no national forest in Maryland to be ignored.
Which plays into the attitude...Public and Political.
Untill value is placed by the public, voting booth and not, where it belongs, ie with forest systems managed for health thru diversity of age class, early successional critters will suffer.
The unstoppable growth of that Public being a secondary issue.

There is indeed room left for the ruffed grouse in the eastern half of the USA tho what happens in a millenia I question for many reasons.
Essentially, much of ruffed grouse cover was created by the expansion of the people you deride...westward and for reasons of growth elsewhere. Both those factors resulted in abnormal levels of ruffed grouse following the turn of the last century and that is when ruffed grouse hunting became more than a subsistence choice.
Not very difficult to find compables with humans and other gamebirds after the same fashion, both to the positive and the negative results.

Population growth/expansion as a way to look at any critter issue(or north american aboriginal issue...odd addition to the subject at hand:confused:) is a dead easy route to take and of little to zero practical value....it simply stirs as a subject but there is no affecting it long term.

You still place deer hunter impact with volume/pressure and not with the real culprits that practice enables.
Deer hunting boomed within the last 20 years or so, the grouse decline in many areas began well before with that aging successional of the previous near 100 years as reason #1....but, the reasons are very wide, deep and complicated.
In Ohio, the decline to my eye began in the late 70s.....deer hunting/ leasing/etc. then was not the same and some parts did not even exist to be a factor.
That sport has more an impact today simply because the ruffed grouse have slid farther down the decline curve to allow all the lesser factors of decline to gain greater importance.

The simplistic look of that South Dakota farmer indicates little understanding of the totality of ruffed grouse history and issues.....I'm beginning to believe the same...of others.
 
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OldDublin

New member
If you guys are short on ruffies, come out here. We have plenty.
And you can shoot some blues too while you are at it!
I have a friend in Idaho.
That tri-state NW area appears a birdhunter dream for many species of gamebirds.
You, like the Michigan folks, are lucky in many ways.
I suspect tho that you realize your luck.
 

RK Special K

New member
I certainly do not mean to "deride" people. We need habitat too! But we are fierce competitors for it. Good for us - we're winning! Bird numbers are on a long term decline, we are on a long term increase.

There were MANY more upland game birds 100 years ago than today. More ruffed grouse, many more sharptail, praire chicken and quail, many, many more sage grouse. In the east, we made the heath hen go extinct. Human inhabitation is THE overriding factor in the decline of almost ALL wildlife. Deer do seem persistant and resilient, however.

I will stand by the SD farmers statement and defend it as VERY relevant to this issue I address. I will also stand by the Indian experience as a VERY proper GENERALIZATION of my point.

As a subset to the issue of people crouding, I VERY much appreciate and respect the efforts and ideas of others to work WITHIN the context of what I feel is the overriding problem. Hey, we got what we got, it is what it is. If we can find a way to work with it - let's do it!

I own 320 acres in ND and have done much with habitat on it. But I feel it is money well spent because the property exists within a proper, overriding landscape theme out there. Pheasants in Michigan do not exist within a proper overriding landscape theme, very minor areas excepted. That "theme" will not change significantly unless you remove most of US!
 

OldDublin

New member
I would bet a large donut that there were more ruffed grouse 100 years ago than 200 years ago......same as people.
People to a large degree delivered high ruffed grouse levels...and pheasants too.
Sustaining levels is the issue now and sustaining can carry too many negatives, is subject to politics and often requires more than folks are willing to give or able to understand.
Expecting the ruffed grouse to ever approach 1900ish levels would carry far too many of those negatives...as much as I selfishly would like to see it.

All that makes the world go and the particulars of the critter itself determines that some critters will never make it longterm.
It's natural.
It's Life.
As is burgeoning population growth.

The SD farmer view was "simplistic" as I noted, true in general but simplistic and the comment ignores much of the ruffed grouse story, needs and stabs at solutions.

While many gamebird populations will never again see their high point, some may approach it for varying periods of time. What will allow the approach is people and an attitude shift as I explained.
We differ...I think we need people but people open to understanding past their ignorance of many species and a consideration past themselves re gamebirds.
The last would especially apply to the deerhunters you dwell upon.
Reducing the number of people on earth would not solve the ruffed grouse decline across it's range.
It might even hasten it in some areas.

Too many today focus on the problems facing birdhunters rather than the issues facing the birds they hunt.
 

OldDublin

New member
We do....however, there aren't as many phez as their used to be. That can be tough.
Quail are plentiful, but a long way from me. It would take many drives, and fruitless scouting trips to build up some honey holes.
Chukars.......... the same.
Huns are down right now.
I do have good numbers of sharptail to chase fairly close to home. But season is short (30 days) and bag limit is two.
The forest grouse really have no factors affecting them other than natural. That is why they always seem to be doing good. But, being a rooster chaser at heart, I can't seem to get after grouse once long tail season begins. Plus the cover is brutal on the dogs. They have no abandon streaking around woods filled with deadfall covered by ground shrubbery.
Yes, many gamebirds go thru cycles of population....some recover and some do not.
That Idaho friend was once telling me of the wonderful high of valley quail that dropped and another acquaintence notes the decline of ruffed grouse in his part of Idaho.
It happens.
Having a near double handfull of upland gamebird options tho is more than that with which many are blessed.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
That "theme" will not change significantly unless you remove most of US!

"Removing most us" won't bring pheasant #'s back. Proper land management will. The theme can change regardless.

Despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants and other wildlife could be a thing of the future (even far into our future) if we'd just pull our heads out of our @$$es and do what's necessary to bring them back.
 
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