First Timer

Well.....Here it goes.

My brother and I set sail to Michigan on Thursday evening Oct. 9. We stayed in Standish and hunted Friday morning in the Grouse Management Area around Gladwin County Lame Duck Foot Acess Area. We flushed 3 or 4 grouse. no shot opportunities. NO WOODCOCK.

That afternoon we headed north to the Black Lake area around Red Bridge Road in Cheboygan County. No grouse, NO WOODCOCK.

We camped at Onaway State Campground which was beautiful and probably the highlight of the trip!!!

Saturday morning we headed to the Grouse managment Area off of Rt. 33 N called LeeGrande. Awesome area!!!! had 12 or so Grouse flushes in the morning. NO WOODCOCK.

After talking to a few people at that area we headed to the Brady Road area off of 68 in the afternoon. I think we had 5 or so Grouse flushes. NO WOODCOCK.

Sunday morning we headed over the lake into the UP to Borgstrom Road Grouse Management Area called Stricker. Another nice area!!!! had 6 grouse flushes in the morning. NO WOODCOCK.

We then, being quite upset about the woodcock, decided to head north a little further to Lake Superior Shoreline Drive right off the lake we hunted in some areas and had a few grouse flushes and NO WOODCOCK.

In summary.....We had 2 shot opportunities on grouse and missed. thats it. we are not experienced grouse hunters so no big deal. My dog had maybe 1 or 2 good points out of the 25 flushes on the grouse all others did not hold AT ALL!!!!! I am extremely disappointed in the woodcock......

We hunted young aspen, older aspen, swampy/wet bottoms with alders, deciduous trees, ferns, conifers, creek bottoms, river bottoms, hill sides, etc... i used the mi hunt app religously during the time in Michigan trying to find the cover for woodcock.

WHAT DID WE DO WRONG to not find the woodcock???? We tried what we thought was everything to try and find their cover...........And went everywhere to find them.....

I know what some of you are thinking that the Grouse Managment Areas are for Grouse....But what we were told by locals and our research and what we actually saw.....All the cover was there for woodcock as well.. Young aspen, moist soil, swampy wet bottoms, alders, etc.

With all that said, we had a great time in Michigan!!! IT is beautiful everywhere!!!! everyone was friendly and trying to help!!! For all who don't know about the Grouse Management Areas.....They are great IMO.

THANKS to all who helped me put it together on this board!

I would appreciate any feedback as to what your thoughts are on why we didn't find woodcock or what we did wrong for any future trips we make make to this great region/state.
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You did nothing wrong, I've hunted the last 2 weekends for grouse and have been very disappointed and not had a shot yet. As far as woodcock, missed one flushed 4 or 5. We had a very wet spring and I'm thinking that was hard on the birds.
Thanks for the trip report. A couple of things:

First, its hard to show up in completely new country and find the hot spots the first time you are there. Any game, anywhere, anytime. Its rare, IME, when that happens.

Second, good to hear that the new GEMS grouse areas are the real deal and that you liked the experience. This is the first year for them and it gives out of state hunters a place to go when they are coming in to the state cold.

Third, the woodcock flights haven't started in earnest yet. Anytime now, we've found the height of flight birds is usually around the 20-25th of October. All we've seen so far is resident birds in our favorite covers and they have been thinned out considerably as the season has been on for a month. Everything all crops, fruits, vegetables, grapes etc are running late this year after a record winter. Canada and the UP weather has been very mild, no heavy frost/freezes to get those mudbats moving South.

Thanks again for the report and hope you had a good experience in Michigan.
woodcock and grouse

Just got back from a week in the U P. Leaves were still hanging on the tress. Woodcock were not around like they were the three previous years. Had only about two flushes a day. Was hoping to get 15 to 25 flushes per day. Good news is the grouse numbers were much better than last year and the the year before.

Had a nice trip got the young dog one some wild birds. Its a tricky game getting a dog to point grouse. I really missed seeing the timberdoodles this year but thats the way it goes.
I also have a young dog. He didn't do all that great on the grouse. I am a little worried it may screw him up on birds that actually hold tight. Not sure if it was good for him or not...any thoughts/pointers (pardon the pun)? He definately picked up on the scent ( i think...maybe too late?)and acted birdy but they just flushed to easy and he only pointed tight twice i think.

Here are some tips for next fall when you go. First, continue to seek out grouse/woodcock habitat. They are similar but different. I used to be a wildlife manager in Michigan and did a LOT of grouse hunting along with some woodcock hunting. I just like to eat grouse more so I hunted for them more.

You need to be in young aspen regenerating stands...smaller than your thighs and about down to your wrist-sized. The wrist-sized stands will attract woodcock before they will attract grouse, but grouse will very shortly set up home ranges in that young aspen. Many of the sites will have sandy soils and this is important to find out.

Sandy soils tend to be more acidic and acidic soils don't support as many earthworms...and the majority of a woodcock's diet is earthworms. So you need to be in young aspen bordered by alder stands with loamy soils to find woodcock. You will know if the flights are in when you find "splashings", which are chalky-white droppings that splash on the leaves of the forest floor. If you aren't seeing splashings there aren't many woodcock around. Woodcock also need a pretty open floor...they don't deal well with a lot of ground cover.

Grouse need all of their habitat requirements spaced within a relatively small area. They utilize the young aspen stands for nesting, brood rearing and fall cover from predators. They also need older MALE aspen stands which supply their primary food source (the buds from male trees) during winter. Aspen grow in clones whereby all he trees in a clone are actually part of the same organism. They will all be the same species, will leaf out at the same time in the spring and will turn Color at the same time in fall. One of the largest known single organisms is actually an aspen clone in Utah that is thousands of acres in size!

They also need the intermediate stands for some nesting, but the younger and older stands are utilized more heavily. In fall, their food sources are many and varied. Look on the ground - wild strawberry, clovers, etc (many forms on the ground), and in the understory - beaked hazel, viburnums, birch catkins. It pays to be a bit of a botanist and it will make you a better hunter.

Another tip would be to get off the beaten path. You'll be surprised how many more flushes you get when you are more than 1/4 mile from the two tracks anywhere in northern Michigan or the U.P. And if you're waiting for an "open" shot, you'll never shoot! Good luck and have fun!
And one more tip for woodcock...woodcock are migratory and follow north-south migratory corridors. Good places to find woodcock during the flight are the adjacent covers to North-south oriented rivers and, believe it or not, highways...