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Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by Chessie202, Oct 21, 2017.
This is a very educated and well thought out response, I agree 100%.
rest of report
Thanks for sharing the report!
Glad to read it. About on par with what I expected.
Does make sense above though, right? We killed the birds that survived, the chicks are the ones that, maybe, just maybe, had the high mortality rates?
We'll never know the truth until someone funds a from the nest to adult study and determine the reason for mortality.
Do you think it would help if we kneeled during the National Anthem?
Let's start with what all the ol timers say then. Let's check those turkeys out. I always hear some of the biologist speak of them not sharing the same habitat. Bullcrap. I've seen the scratches in 6-7 year old clearcuts. I will always trust more of what 30-40 year of boot leather says, than some educated fool straight of out school.
I wasn't on the WNV bandwagon from the beginning. The populations gradually declined, not fell off a cliff in 1 year. When I first started, you could get up 4-5 birds in a days hunt. You may hafta hunt 2 or 3 hollers, but you could just about fly birds in any holler that you tried. You could even fly birds in marginal cover that biologist wouldn't dare say a bird would be in. I don't believe cover is the problem at all, at least where I'm from. Logging is happening every day. Clearcuts and select.
F&W doesn't generate much revenue at all from grouse. We just buy a hunting licence. Look at the number of grouse hunters versus the number of turkey hunters. Turkey hunters buy licence plus tags. Tell me who wins out. I may get blackballed, but some common sense must be used here. F&W hired a grouse and turkey coordinator in one. That should tell sportsmen all they need to know.
I'm gonna crawl out on the limb and muddy the water. I contacted Wisconsin Dnr and ask how many NR small game license were sold without any deer or turkey permits. In 2015 10,753 nr small game only and 2016 there were 10,632 nr small game license sold. I'm willing to bet the bulk of those license sales are from grouse hunters. I go to Wisconsin for 6 weeks to grouse hunt, buy their $85 license, rent a cabin, groceries and gas. I think if you do the math there's a lot of money in small game that this state could capitalize on if there was as much resources dedicated for it as there are for Deer, Elk and Turkey.
Are you guys proposing an additional item to purchase to grouse hunt? I would be 100% okay with spending a little more money to grouse hunt if 100% of the money went to 100% grouse management. I, like Jon, heard lots of the older hunters blame turkey for grouse decline. Anyone that says a turkey won't be found in grouse habitat has never hunted for grouse in Eastern Kentucky, I am starting to flush them now in Wisconsin (odd, the grouse numbers are declining there as the turkey numbers rise?). More than once I have flushed them, even a time or two off point. If turkeys indeed kill young grouse (what some older hunters have told me) and compete for food with them (20 turkeys scratch a whole hill side clean in a few hours), add the other predator pressure from coyotes, hawks, and owls and we may be on to something. Think about how many very young grouse a coyote could sniff out and eat. I would guess likely the whole covey if found within the first few days of hatching. Being a wild dog they would have a good sniffer on them and would likely be able to locate them easily. Hawks, which you can find in every holler are protected, as well as owls (odd right? protected yet everywhere) and the owls could get them on the roost and the hawks can get them feeding. I always heard coyotes would catch more bird predators than birds, but that may only apply to pheasant talk since it was guys out west in Nebraska talking about it. How do you thin the protected flyers if they are found to be the problem?
Here is my 2 cents and experience the last 5 years. I do believe that WNV has had, to some degree, an effect on grouse but I don't believe it is enough to place all the blame on. However, I do believe that it has effected the turkey population to some extent as well. Just from observing turkey and grouse populations around my family farm, one can consider that this is not enough information but I will share anyway.
This is a 250 acre farm with 90% old timber, 5% young cut, and 5% hay field. 10 years ago I could walk into any branch of the farm and find a grouse and sometimes 2-3 birds. As a matter of fact I jumped a covey of 8 birds within 20 yards of my dog lot exactly 10 years ago this month. They literally flew over top of my dogs while they looked on in sadness. Turkey population on the farm was low but starting to increase. I hardly every hunted grouse on the farm to kill. I mostly hunted them to work young dogs. Fast forward to 5 years ago. I could watch upwards of 30 to 40 turkeys in each small hay field at least 5 days a week. Turkey population was insane and frankly I hated it except for spring time when I could listen to them early in the morning hours out on the porch. When turkeys were everywhere the grouse were no where. No drumming or any reports from neighbors that ride horses and squirrel hunt my property. Within the last 3 years turkey population has dwindled to what it was about 10-15 years ago. Why? I don't know but I do suspect that WNV has got to them as well as predators. I didnt see any young birds this year with hens either. That is a first. That brings me to this year. This is the first time in 10 years I have seen more than 1 grouse on the farm in the last 10 years. Once again, I am seeing grouse and turkey population is minimal. I want to add that nothing has been done as far as logging. I know this may be just be an outlier in the situation but who knows. Take this info for what its worth.
My trainer in MI sent in two harvested grouse and woodcock to the MI DNR for WNV testing and all three came back positive including a Blue Jay from his back yard found dead. The Grand National was run this year in MI on the lowest number of birds moved for the trial in memory as well. In one of the braces a dog brought back a dead bird that has subsequently been sent for testing as well.
If three harvested birds from three separate locations on three separate occasions tested positive including a "back-yard" bird in what is considered the heartland for grouse... maybe this this thing is uglier than we think.
This may seem really shallow and selfish, but here it is. If the northern states experience what we have, and start to see revenue lost, maybe they can find what the problem truly is. No one in the north is going to believe it lack of habitat. A big difference in KY and WI/MI/MI is the amount of revenue small game brings in, if grouse disappear I believe they will take notice and actually try to find the true cause.
And especially don't forget the BOBCATS!!!
Sir, I'm not implying WNV might not kill a few turkeys some years, but what I've read about it is, the effects of WNV on turkey populations is minimal.
If a disease is the cause of turkey declines it's probably gonna be LPDV, or avian pox.