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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
Brad Eden

Ruffed Grouse and Apple-Trees

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Brad Eden

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I spent last weekend uptacamp in Downeast/northeast Maine on an annual whitetail deer hunting trip. As is typically the case when a nimrod is toting a high caliber rifle, the grouse were plentiful. Annoyingly so. Not only was I bumping them back and forth from stands, or while still hunting, I saw a few sitting on the gravel roads or off to the sides-puffed up from the cold. Their general behavior in this particular area is sort of a cross between southern schizo birds and dumb as rocks far northern birds.

 

I do thank them for keeping me amused during a couple late afternoon sits. There is only one other camp at the end of my dead end camp road. The owner has cleared and mowed and bushogged a good 250 yard stretch in front, downhill, all the way to a Pond. It's about 60 yards wide. The area is crisscrosses with deer runs. It can be productive to sit on a stool tucked up against the side of that camp watching this stretch. There is one lone apple tree smack dab in front of the porch in the mowed lawn area, less than 20 yards from where I sit, and another apple tree around 50 yards down along the right edge. The apples are completely gone right now. 

 

Both times I took a stand there in the afternoon a ruffed grouse or two would appear from the woods on either side, and poke their way to that lone apple tree, hop up on the branches and voraciously eat the apple buds for 15 minutes. I would also see ruffs fly up from the ground into the apple tree along the right edge, and with binocs could watch them do the high wire act while eating buds. This was always 15 minutes after sunset. (We can hunt deer until 1/2 hour after sunset) They would feed for 15 minutes and then flush from the trees to the sanctuary of the now dark woods.

 

Very entertaining. What's interesting and probably not surprising is they keyed in on the apple buds despite the surrounding woods and edges being rich in aspen. My guess is when weather moves in with snow and ice they won't be so discriminating and will be silhouetted against the sky at dusk in the taller and more spindly aspens. This observation reminds me of when there was apparently a bounty (thought I had read that once) on ruffs in commercial apple orchards. If they gathered in large numbers in the past, they could compromise the apple production, I would guess. 

 

Needless to say, weather permitting, we are packing up the hounds and heading back to camp this weekend. This time with Cash and some scatterguns.

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Randy S

I also believe a bounty existed. I don't remember if it was Spiller or another author who produced the math necessary for grouse to diminish apple production at the level stated by orchard owners, but it was a ridiculous number. 

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gunsrus

Wow , a bounty on the King !

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Dave in Maine
43 minutes ago, Brad Eden said:

...

 

Needless to say, weather permitting, we are packing up the hounds and heading back to camp this weekend. This time with Cash and some scatterguns.

And there will be deer in abundance, bounding and cavorting, and grouse nowhere in the same township.

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River19

Given the funky weather we had during October and early November I have found very few (single digit) grouse in and around apple orchards this year.

 

I have slipped over, twisted ankles on, dodged bees from, avoided bear puke in apples/apple orchards all early season and didn't move many if any grouse from perfect apple stands.

 

The other food sources are still so abundent that I'm thinking late season could be interesting depending on snowfall.

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tut

The only Va grouse that see's an Apple is when you stuff it with a Granny Smith before you place it in the oven. Seriously, they have no clue what apples are down here.  Probably because no apples are up in the mountains where they used to frequent.  PS.  I do recall quite happily many years ago in Maine when you could clearly see the Grouse beaks as they pecked away at apples that had fallen out of tree. 

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provident

I remember reading Spiller saying that he had a dog that would POINT apple trees, he was so accustomed to finding a grouse in them! I'm always sad when I come across an apple tree WAY back in the woods, at a long abandoned farm, and no grouse are around. In my youth they were.

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vabirddog
2 hours ago, tut said:

The only Va grouse that see's an Apple is when you stuff it with a Granny Smith before you place it in the oven. Seriously, they have no clue what apples are down here.  Probably because no apples are up in the mountains where they used to frequent.  PS.  I do recall quite happily many years ago in Maine when you could clearly see the Grouse beaks as they pecked away at apples that had fallen out of tree. 

Before the forest closed in there were old orchards and scattered apple trees throughout the central Blue Ridge. Still many commercial orchards.  All the old farms and orchards have returned to mature forest now.  We still have apples at our place in the mts and not even enough deer to clean them up now.

 

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tut
1 hour ago, vabirddog said:

Before the forest closed in there were old orchards and scattered apple trees throughout the central Blue Ridge. Still many commercial orchards.  All the old farms and orchards have returned to mature forest now.  We still have apples at our place in the mts and not even enough deer to clean them up now.

 

 

We had a cabin in the GWNF west of Broadway Va in the mid-1980's.  Had a big old Apple Tree there.  Many a deer met its maker near that tree over the years.  Sadly the National Forest in that area is almost devoid of both deer and grouse.  Only the bears are in good numbers.  Folks used to take off the first week of deer season.  Now they hunt the opener and maybe one or two days the following week and that's it for the year.  Changing world with changing forests.   Mature forests aren't much good for Grouse or Deer and that's what we mostly have.

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Coalman

My son and I hunted an old abandoned family farm apple orchard on our trip to southern Aroostook this fall. The place smelled like a cider press. No grouse.

 

A week later in southern Maine Belle flushed a brood of three from under a few old apple trees at the Farm. I got one.

 

Our Habitat Improvement farm here is seacoast NH is absolutely littered with dropped apples yet we have not seen a deer. There are still hundreds on the trees.

 

Too bad partridge is seacoast NH are almost an endangered species. We have plenty for them to eat.

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Field Grade

Like someone mentioned upthread, in 'Grouse Feathers' Spiller wrote about grouse eating apple tree buds.

 

He essentially said his blood boiled when he heard of orchardkeepers who shot grouse out of apple trees.

 

He didn't buy into the argument that grouse could damage the apple crop:

 

"I personally know of one apple tree that was budded by five grouse until the last visible bud was taken," he writes. Despite that, in the fall the tree "bore 14 bushel of choice fruit."

 

So it sounds like grouse don't pose all that much of a threat to orchards.

 

spiller1a.jpg

 

In the fall, I have seen smaller apples that have been wedged in tree branch crotches and have peck and bite marks taken out of them... seems like the work of grouse. Anyone else ever run across this ( ? )

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Ben Hong

Some of you may have been at my place nestled between an abandoned orchard and the lake shore. My twice daily routine is to circumnavigate, then crisscross the orchard with my pooch. Most days we see/flush at least 2 regularly seen grouse - Ernie and Ernestine, who habituate different areas of the orchard. I have seen them eat apples, high bush cranberries, hawberries, leaves, aspen and apple buds, and pin cherries, etc. But because the orchard is such an abundant smorgasbord good food I would not say that any one type of food is singled out for concentrated feeding. Those orchardists who complain about grouse harming their fruit trees have no real argument...in my younger and more silly days I built in the middle of a 4 acre orchard and the number of grouse seen budding in my 100 producing trees could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Deer on the other hand...

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