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      WELCOME NEW UJ MEMBERS   06/25/2017

      It seems the word is out and UJ is enjoying a steady stream of newly Registered Members. Welcome to all of you, and we are all looking forward to your positive participation. I strongly suggest you review the Board Guidelines that have been in place since 2002. The most significant thing being that UJ is a NO POLITICS BOARD. LInk:  UJ BOARD GUIDELINES   Also UJ stays afloat mainly through Member Donations. Once a Donation is made you are placed in the Contributing Member Group with extra Priviliges. I am getting very few new Donations so hopefully this will spur that on a bit. Link:  New Members/Donations/Priviliges
chilly460

Another VA report....no grouse

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chilly460

I'll open by saying I'm a new grouse hunter, with no dog, so the deck was stacked against me.  That said, I've read everything I can, watched every DVD I can get, worked over the forum.  I've seen a few grouse in this area previously.  I used the Va Game map to find some clearcuts out West of Covington, VA.  My strategy is to try some 5-9yr old clearcuts, then move to 10-14yr old if I didn't find anything.  

 

So after a nasty climb, here is what I found early Saturday, east facing ridge clearcut adjacent to mature forest.  Tons of scrub oak and briar.  Pretty much impenetrable, I tried to bust it a bit but it was impossible to do for long so worked the edge.  Anywhere the briar let up I'd go in and zigzag, pausing every 20yds or so.  I found these ground seeds and berries so food seemed available. 

IMG_1529.jpg

 

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I fought this for 4.5hrs and didn't move a bird.  Had to leave to setup campsite at 3pm.  

 

Sunday I figured I'd try a bit more mature cuts where I hoped to be able to get into the cut instead of just the edges.  Found what I thought was very good cover, lots of laurel with 2-3" oaks, adjacent to mature oak forest with some areas of conifers mixed in.  

IMG_1563.jpg

IMG_1562_1.jpg

 

 

So, am I off track about these being suitable covers?  If I'm off base, feel free to let me know.  I don't expect anybody to tell me where to hunt, just trying to make sure I'm not hunting useless ground.  I didn't really find any swampy areas or I'd have tried that next, these cuts all seemed to be at the mountain tops.  

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rosies dad

A Grouse would never show itself to a hunter with a "one barreled gun", especially if its semi automatic. You have to buy a $2500 Double gun. Oh, and get a fine bred English Setter. THEN you will be sure to find the missing grouse.

Oh, Im not from your part of the country, but that cover you are looking at looks "grousey"  from here.xD

 

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chilly460

Lol, I had a 20ga Ithaca O/U in the truck but after a couple spills climbing up there, I decided it was best to hunt the beater Rem 11-48.  Working on getting a dog this spring, been thinking about it for a few years now and life has finally settled enough that it's time. 

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rosies dad

Oh, good. The O/U will work great. Now to get the dog business figured out. Have you got a breed in mind?

Just thinking something with a "short coat" might be nice in that heat. In my youth, I spent some time in Norfolk serving Uncle Sam, summers were HOT and HUMID.

 

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tut

Welcome to the great state of Va and the current Grouse situation.  IMO, you are hunting what I'd call Grouse cover for sure.  Being without a dog is a huge handicap with the current lack of grouse we have in the state.  IMO the rougher the cover that better the chances are of flushing grouse.  That said, its early in the season and they are most likely loading up on acorns right now and as such they might not be in their winter covers yet.   Where you are hunting right now might be super in about 30 days or so, just not right now.  Nice effort and I give you an A for that for sure. 

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chilly460

Thanks for the input, much appreciated.  I have a buddy with a couple nice Brittanies, he's still trying to get a deer during muzzleloader season, we may head up after gun season starts.  There looked to be quite a few covers to try, most aren't that large so we could hunt several a day and try different strategies.  

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Harry

When Grouse are scarce there is an old saying and it has nothing to do with a fine double or a Dog.

 

"Legs kill Grouse."

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vabirddog

Remington 48 has plenty upland tradition, Ive used one for years and my Dad and Great Uncle before that! 16ga of course. 

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chilly460

Yep, this is a 16ga as well, my favorite gauge.  

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Cooter Brown
8 hours ago, tut said:

Welcome to the great state of Va and the current Grouse situation.  IMO, you are hunting what I'd call Grouse cover for sure.  Being without a dog is a huge handicap with the current lack of grouse we have in the state.  IMO the rougher the cover that better the chances are of flushing grouse.  That said, its early in the season and they are most likely loading up on acorns right now and as such they might not be in their winter covers yet.   Where you are hunting right now might be super in about 30 days or so, just not right now.  Nice effort and I give you an A for that for sure. 

This sounds like a man who's put in some time hunting Southern Appalachian grouse...

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Mike Connally

You mentioned hunting on Sunday. I assume private land?

Clearcuts are tough to hunt. If there are grouse they will probably just run off to one side. Hunting with a partner allows you to squeeze a bird between you and flush it. 

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dogrunner

Looks like good cover, time of day, weather and others factors can have they in different spots not too far away. Walk slow, look and listen, sooner or later you will find a pattern. Work the edges more than the middle of that stuff. 

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GraceinVA

Heres my 2 cents....

 

In the first set of pics, the cover looks too young still and maybe even too thick. If a grouse cant meander around on the ground, he prob wont spend much time in it. To me, that is more summer/brood rearing cover. It will beat the crap out of you trying to push it and and like Mike C said they will just peel off to the sides without a dog. I wouldn't waste too much time actually in that. Good thinking to move to the edges - they can be productive at this time of the season.

 

The second set of pics looks like it could hold birds, but still doesn't scream "grouse in here" to me. I'd give it a shot for a half day or so, but then i'd move on. But then again I don't find many birds in laurel and I really don't target it. In my opinion its too thick, and it keeps the ferns and other greens from growing on the forest floor. Plus if your busting through it, you could never get a shot anyways. A mentor of mine once told me "are you hunting to see how many flushes you can get, or to get shots?" There is a time and place when that cover may be better and I would think later in the year and maybe when there is some snow cover. Then again that's just my opinion - I know some guys swear by the laurel.

 

I think you need to find something in between the two covers shown above. The area you hunted has birds. Don't be scared to try some 20 year old cuts - especially if there are some younger cuts in the same vicinity. You said these were on mountaintops - I have much better luck in the valleys and bottoms of cuts. Anywhere there is a kind of hidden gully and/or flat spot I like to try. I don't find as many birds up high as I do down low. If your going to the top, make sure your walking a drainage or creek up (if there is one). Also don't be scared to stick near to the logging roads. I find plenty of birds within 50 yards of the roads. Once you find a landing or something, then bust off the road and try it.

 

Your doing everything right. If you keep at it, you will get a bird. You don't have to have a dog to kill grouse in VA.  I actually leave my worthless mutt home a few hunts each year, especially when I get a grudge bird that I know where he is staying. I keep the dog at home and try to sneak up on it. The dog earns its keep after the shot in my situation. My dog hurt her leg 2 seasons ago and I hunted the last 2 months without a dog. Ended up killing (2) grouse and had a ball hunting them dogless.

 

I'll see if I can find some pics of cover I like to hunt and send them to you. Let me know when your coming back up and i'll take you out. I try to make it down and hunt that area once or twice a year.

 

Chris 

 

 

 

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GraceinVA

One other thing i'll add too is that food is plentiful this year. The soft mast is still around (although it is freezing/dying now), the acorn crop seems to be awesome, and the buds are out as well. With food this abundant, I think it can really scatter the grouse which gives a false feeling of "there are no birds." In reality they are there, but they may not be in typical places because now there is food everywhere! The more time you spend on the ground the more productive covers you will add to your arsenal and the more you will mark off your "hit list." After several years you will develop some "go-to" spots and once you start to find these, you can look at the images on GE and see what it looks like. From there, you can find similar looking covers.

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ANF grousin
28 minutes ago, GraceinVA said:

Your doing everything right. If you keep at it, you will get a bird. You don't have to have a dog to kill grouse in VA.  I actually leave my worthless mutt home a few hunts each year, especially when I get a grudge bird that I know where he is staying. I keep the dog at home and try to sneak up on it. The dog earns its keep after the shot in my situation. My dog hurt her leg 2 seasons ago and I hunted the last 2 months without a dog. Ended up killing (2) grouse and had a ball hunting them dogless.

 

 

 

This one?

IMG_4395.JPG.9b36c74cfcd1c918a3dab1547bc

 

 

 

I like laurel cover, some is good, some not so good.  That laurel should hold birds, protection from avian predators along with mast crop on the floor.  I'm headed out shortly and will be hitting a couple laurel covers.  One is well known around my house, everyone sees grouse out on the road picking up grit, yet no one hunts it since its considered to hard to hunt and kill birds in it.  

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