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Prescribed Burns and Appalachian Grouse


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4 hours ago, Cooter Brown said:

That's a fair assessment.  Essentially what happens is that a nice piece of habitat will be surrounded by a lot of very mature forest with clean understory.  And that piece of habitat is too far from other good habitat that might hold birds for the birds to make the move.

 

Yep.  Its related to home range and carrying capacity.  As the range fills and the carrying capacity of that range enters its upper limit or Maximum carrying capacity birds will look for additional area in which to set up house keeping.  If an area is not within easy reach the "house of cards" of population dynamics begins to shake.  

 

2 hours ago, GraceinVA said:

This

 

It’s important for us to remember the difference between “surviving” and “thriving”. No one is talking about thriving. But like vabirddog says they are just “surviving at scattered level”. For some regions or states that “scatteredness” may be a miles apart, while others sound like it could be hundreds of miles. 
 

I just read on RGS website a male can go 1.8 to 4.5 miles while females have been known to go 15 miles from their brood site. Obvious that is dependent on SO many things but that is still a pretty good distance. That would connect some good stuff in my haunts. Do it year after year after year for another 10-20 years and maybe?? 
 

Stupid huh. We all know that chit ain’t happening. 

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Although those numbers are interesting I think you may be looking at an extreme for the female. I would think that kind of distance shows exactly what is being talked about here.  The hen went looking for new ground even if that is a really huge travel distance.  The managed areas need to be interlocked with good travel cover that provides all the things a bird needs.  Actually what is being said is there needs to be massive areas under correct management as that will allow the population to expand and thus fill those other areas. Thriving would be a good number related to the high end of carrying capacity.  Population saturation point may never be achieved and thats OK as long as the population meets something very close to carrying capacity.

 

Population dynamics for grouse work a bit different then quail but all species function in a similar manner.  Ya have to have the correct habitat and its forms in order to have willing population members present.  

 

EDIT:  Thinking this over a bit more the most obvious note is that forests in the Northern states are managed more intensely then those in the Southern Mountains (though I find that hard to say)..  The truth is the Northern forests are cut in larger cuts and are interlocked by cuts that may in fact be older but still usable. 

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For the predator non believers:   Let me review quickly what I believe  is the history of ruffed grouse in southern app for last 150 years .  Grouse were NOT plentiful way back there in virgin fo

I have been patient for now the better part of a lifetime. Fire wont cut it in the east.  Never has. Reality is the mountains were homes , farms, timberlands before the forests were created. The edge

9000+ acre fire in my area ive seen 0 benefit after 3-4 years. Clear/ regeneration cutting is the only method I have seen any real change from. It must start there. 

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5 hours ago, Huntschool said:

 

Yep.  Its related to home range and carrying capacity.  As the range fills and the carrying capacity of that range enters its upper limit or Maximum carrying capacity birds will look for additional area in which to set up house keeping.  If an area is not within easy reach the "house of cards" of population dynamics begins to shake.  

 

 

Although those numbers are interesting I think you may be looking at an extreme for the female. I would think that kind of distance shows exactly what is being talked about here.  The hen went looking for new ground even if that is a really huge travel distance.  The managed areas need to be interlocked with good travel cover that provides all the things a bird needs.  Actually what is being said is there needs to be massive areas under correct management as that will allow the population to expand and thus fill those other areas. Thriving would be a good number related to the high end of carrying capacity.  Population saturation point may never be achieved and thats OK as long as the population meets something very close to carrying capacity.

 

Population dynamics for grouse work a bit different then quail but all species function in a similar manner.  Ya have to have the correct habitat and its forms in order to have willing population members present.  

 

EDIT:  Thinking this over a bit more the most obvious note is that forests in the Northern states are managed more intensely then those in the Southern Mountains (though I find that hard to say)..  The truth is the Northern forests are cut in larger cuts and are interlocked by cuts that may in fact be older but still usable. 

 

I can certainly say with zero doubt that is the case.  Whether one hunts NH, Maine or Michigan there is a tremendous amount of cutting going on as compared to what we see in the National Forests of Va/WV.   I think what many "Save the tree" folks don't realize is a Walmart parking lot isn't much different then a mature forest when it comes to trying to find a place to find groceries and shelter as far as most wildlife are concerned whether they have 4 legs or 2 legs and wings.  

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Mike Connally

An interesting side note to this is a report of a quail covey at 2500 ft elevation on a VA mountain. A biologist related to me that they found this covey many miles from anywhere they thought was possible from dispersal. They were checking out a 3 year old burn from an unplanned fire. 
Nothing but hardwood forest for at least 5 or 6 miles and then straight up a mountain. 
Quail don’t belong on mountain tops. 

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boon hogganbeck

Unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of prime habitat in WV/PA that doesn’t hold grouse, particularly outside the mountainous counties, including our own property. However these are small covers surrounded by mature forest. Maybe it’s just not enough to carry to carry the population through the hard years. 

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mister grouse

Hate to lob this in the Vegative management discussion about national forests, but IMO there is so much more to grouse population issues in the S E than second growth.  As Have said way too many times on here for decades plus, there are 100,000s of thousands interlocked PRIVATELY Owned acres in SE KY, SW Va, and E Tn and Western NC that have great vegetation stage successions  for grouse but a pitiful population compared to twenty five years ago and prior. 

 

Predation, compettion with turkeys for food sources in winter, predation, lack of isolation protection from  human interactions due to more more intrusive road and trail ATV-UTV traffic, Predation, unknown diseases in addition to WNV , Bird flu, and then there is predation.   Take the time to think about it and tell me an if there is an easier large wild bird for a winged/ footed predator meal than a ruffed grouse/ruff grouse nest ?

 

Wereally have tormented this topic and each other for a decade plus.  Other than commenting and showing up at management plans hearing for the national forest (like I urged earlier this year for the Pisgah Forest) it is not something individual or even a organized group is going to accomplish IMO.  Government employees have no interest in complicating their lives with putting out a bid process, managing cutting , defending themselves in lawsuits from the crazies, and interrupting there ride to retirement and the healthy pension.

 

EDIT I saw Boons simultaneous post saying essentially same thing a moment after I posted this.  Great minds etc 

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1 hour ago, Mike Connally said:

An interesting side note to this is a report of a quail covey at 2500 ft elevation on a VA mountain. A biologist related to me that they found this covey many miles from anywhere they thought was possible from dispersal. They were checking out a 3 year old burn from an unplanned fire. 
Nothing but hardwood forest for at least 5 or 6 miles and then straight up a mountain. 
Quail don’t belong on mountain tops. 

Released birds maybe? Although I am sure the biologist could tell the difference... 

 

I know several guys around here that release quail and/or chukar for training on the National Forest. Not 2500ft up but every bit of 1800-2000ft. They don't hunt the birds and the idea is hopefully they covey up and can be trained on through the Fall/Spring. I know they have found chukar a week after being released but I don't know about their success with the quail. I once saw a hen pheasant running down a FS road in the middle of the mountains lol. Actually have a picture of it somewhere...

 

1 hour ago, mister grouse said:

Hate to lob this in the Vegative management discussion about national forests, but IMO there is so much more to grouse population issues in the S E than second growth.  As Have said way too many times on here for decades plus, there are 100,000s of thousands interlocked PRIVATELY Owned acres in SE KY, SW Va, and E Tn and Western NC that have great vegetation stage successions  for grouse but a pitiful population compared to twenty five years ago and prior. 

Not arguing with you MG, but again I have an opposite experience where I hunt. I have [limited] access to a 8,000 acre tree farm in WV. Actively logged, and they allow NO hunting other than the owners SIL and whoever he invites. I get invited to hunt it once maybe twice a season if I am lucky - always after the first of the year when deer and bear are out. We havn't even scratched the surface on this land over the years. I have hunted it over the past (5) years and we fly 3-5 birds an hour every time. Looks like I've hunted it (6) times over the years according to my journal and the one year we were at 3 birds an hour it rained alll day. They road swat the crap out of them all fall when they hunt deer and I get all the pics. My buddy gives me all the fans to spread out and dry for them. Drives me crazy, but I gotta keep my end of the deal so I can participate once a year. I also hunt grouse on public land maybe 5-10 miles away in SEVERAL directions of the tree farm and while it has some birds its nothing like the tree farm population. This particular situation leads me to my conclusion/opinion. Again, just my experience in my little secluded area. 

 

Also - I just did a quick very broad google search for the first time on the area you referenced and I can see all the habitat you are speaking of. Not hard to find with the amount. I have no experience of that area but I agree it looks like a pile of mixed aged habitat. I could probably take a screen shot of satellite images from the tree farm I referenced and it would look the exact same as a screen shot from those areas. 

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Mike Connally
3 hours ago, GraceinVA said:

 

I know several guys around here that release quail and/or chukar for training on the National Forest. Not 2500ft up but every bit of 1800-2000ft. They don't hunt the birds and the idea is hopefully they covey up and can be trained on through the Fall/Spring. I know they have found chukar a week after being released but I don't know about their success with the quail. I once saw a hen pheasant running down a FS road in the middle of the mountains lol. Actually have a picture of it somewhere

The biologist was fairly certain these were wild birds. It was much more remote from established populations than they would have thought possible for natural dispersal. It wasn’t in an area someone would be lugging pen raised birds. The closest road is 3/4 mile although there is a hiking trail nearby. He said it was an eye opener as to the possible distance for dispersal. 

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1 hour ago, Mike Connally said:

The biologist was fairly certain these were wild birds. It was much more remote from established populations than they would have thought possible for natural dispersal. It wasn’t in an area someone would be lugging pen raised birds. The closest road is 3/4 mile although there is a hiking trail nearby. He said it was an eye opener as to the possible distance for dispersal. 

Interesting. 

 

I read somewhere in an article that that is going to be one of Linda Ordiway's projects with the WVDNR in the coming years. Apparently Jim Justice championed an initiative to capture wild birds from OK (maybe it was TX?) and release them on a WMA in the old coal mine areas of Southern WV. I don't really know anything else about the project but I was reminded of it by your post.

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Cooter Brown
34 minutes ago, GraceinVA said:

Interesting. 

 

I read somewhere in an article that that is going to be one of Linda Ordiway's projects with the WVDNR in the coming years. Apparently Jim Justice championed an initiative to capture wild birds from OK (maybe it was TX?) and release them on a WMA in the old coal mine areas of Southern WV. I don't really know anything else about the project but I was reminded of it by your post.

I didn't know that was where Linda landed.  Good for her and WV.

 

By the way, not long ago I did a review of the beer you had a picture of a few posts back...

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mister grouse

Off  original topic,  but since Mike and Grace have discussed this I will say that I annually from  the 60's to early 2000s l found wild quail coveys in places in high mountains in southern app  where they should not  have been , applying traditional wild quail habitat logic.  Usually very small groups , less than ten birds. Some in high country in the vicinity of old overgrown coal camps, long abandoned.  A long long way from about  any human activity at the time I saw them .  Some in the edge of grouse cover at low elevation hollows in  the deep appalachia areas that had been abandoned when folks went to Detroit to get work after WW2.  I think the quail  just hung on as small long forgotten corn plots grew back to woods and the birds adopted to berries, seed, and grapes of opportunity.  Once surface mining came through , the reclamation uses of lespedeza  and other seed or berry plants like autumn olive  sustained them even longer.

 

FWIW, Quail Unlimited attempted to re- introduce wild bobwhite in to many many thousand of acres of reclaimed mine ground in the 90s  I would occasionally see some of those birds on the edges of reclamation but they didn't take well to it for the long run.

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17 minutes ago, Cooter Brown said:

I didn't know that was where Linda landed.  Good for her and WV.

 

By the way, not long back I did a review of the beer you had a picture of a few posts back...

Just learned of it myself not to long ago. I am optimistic about it. Certainly can't hurt...

 

And yes I remember your review - it was hilarious. I shared it with my wife as it has been our beer all summer. That pic was taken with you in mind, just never got around to sharing it.

 

14 minutes ago, mister grouse said:

Off  original topic,  but since Mike and Grace have discussed this I will say that I annually from  the 60's to early 2000s l found wild quail coveys in places in high mountains in southern app  where they should not  have been , applying traditional wild quail habitat logic.  Usually very small groups , less than ten birds. Some in high country in the vicinity of old overgrown coal camps, long abandoned.  A long long way from about  any human activity at the time I saw them .  Some in the edge of grouse cover at low elevation hollows in  the deep appalachia areas that had been abandoned when folks went to Detroit to get work after WW2.  I think the quail  just hung on as small long forgotten corn plots grew back to woods and the birds adopted to berries, seed, and grapes of opportunity.  Once surface mining came through , the reclamation uses of lespedeza  and other seed or berry plants like autumn olive  sustained them even longer.

 

FWIW, Quail Unlimited attempted to re- introduce wild bobwhite in to many many thousand of acres of reclaimed mine ground in the 90s  I would occasionally see some of those birds on the edges of reclamation but they didn't take well to it for the long run.

Very interesting. I love hearing about these experiences and the way things used to be. Did you ever take any mixed bags of quail and grouse? 

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5 minutes ago, GraceinVA said:

Just learned of it myself not to long ago. I am optimistic about it. Certainly can't hurt...

 

And yes I remember your review - it was hilarious. I shared it with my wife as it has been our beer all summer. That pic was taken with you in mind, just never got around to sharing it.

 

Very interesting. I love hearing about these experiences and the way things used to be. Did you ever take any mixed bags of quail and grouse? 

 

Interesting this would come up.  My buddy has some property right on the border between WV and Va i the Northern Shenandoah Valley.   Up till probably 20 years ago he would often shoot both wild Bobwhites and Grouse the same day.  Back then there was a mix of corn fields and pine flats that were often cut and replanted as well as various hardwoods (Oak Flats) as well as Laurel.  As I mentioned it was indeed a mixed bag.  Quail were closer to the fields (but sometimes in the forest) and the grouse were just about everywhere (except in the open fields).  Sadly all those quail are gone and 95% of the grouse.  Everything seemed to make the worse in about the year 2000.  Some of it was obviously less habitat.  He still has the occasional Grouse show up, but he never shoot one.  They are at best a training opportunity for his bird dogs. 

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2 hours ago, mister grouse said:

Off  original topic,  but since Mike and Grace have discussed this I will say that I annually from  the 60's to early 2000s l found wild quail coveys in places in high mountains in southern app  where they should not  have been , applying traditional wild quail habitat logic.  Usually very small groups , less than ten birds. Some in high country in the vicinity of old overgrown coal camps, long abandoned.  A long long way from about  any human activity at the time I saw them .  Some in the edge of grouse cover at low elevation hollows in  the deep appalachia areas that had been abandoned when folks went to Detroit to get work after WW2.  I think the quail  just hung on as small long forgotten corn plots grew back to woods and the birds adopted to berries, seed, and grapes of opportunity.  Once surface mining came through , the reclamation uses of lespedeza  and other seed or berry plants like autumn olive  sustained them even longer.

 

FWIW, Quail Unlimited attempted to re- introduce wild bobwhite in to many many thousand of acres of reclaimed mine ground in the 90s  I would occasionally see some of those birds on the edges of reclamation but they didn't take well to it for the long run.

 

 

I could write volumes on these topic areas as I was highly involved in these efforts.  First let me say this....  Efforts were made including, F1 reproduction, cross fostering, gentle release, and brood management.  However the bottom line was habitat.  If there were no birds on an area there was a problem with the habitat in that area.  We could release birds (and I mean great genetic strains) and still have them rapidly decline unless we supplied at least extra feed and in some cases water to say nothing of needed escape and travel cover.

 

Reclamation of strip mine ground  (post 1968 Act) was found in many cases to be somewhat suitable but only after major steps were taken to modify food sources.  The lespedeza planted was usually Sericea:

  1. nature.mdc.mo.gov/.../field-guide/sericea-lespedeza

    Although introduced in hopes of providing food for wildlife, sericea lespedeza is unpalatable compared to native species because of the high concentration of tannins in its tissues. Sericea has a deep taproot allowing it to outcompete native plants for water and nutrients.

     

    Quail can starve to death with full crops of Sericea.  In some but few instances Korean and Bi Color were planted and those certainly have food and cover value to quail.  However in more recent studies the shrub type lespedeza's like Thunbergii or perhaps even Japonnica are more recommended.

     

    Autumn Olive is now considered an invasive species by a number of states and its removal has become a directive on many state owned property's.  Illinois, as an example has conducted hydro axe operations followed up by stump herbicide application in and effort to remove the shrub from state properties.  It serves little to no browsing for deer as proved by Michigan State research and as far as ground species of birds few make use of the berries as they must get in the tree to access the berries.  Sure I have killed quail with some berries present in their crops buts lets remember the birds are at risk feeding up in the shrubs via raptorial predators  and as many know their numbers have grown considerably.  The birds are not dumb....

 

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mister grouse
1 hour ago, Huntschool said:

 

 

I could write volumes on these topic areas as I was highly involved in these efforts.  First let me say this....  Efforts were made including, F1 reproduction, cross fostering, gentle release, and brood management.  However the bottom line was habitat.  If there were no birds on an area there was a problem with the habitat in that area.  We could release birds (and I mean great genetic strains) and still have them rapidly decline unless we supplied at least extra feed and in some cases water to say nothing of needed escape and travel cover.

 

Reclamation of strip mine ground  (post 1968 Act) was found in many cases to be somewhat suitable but only after major steps were taken to modify food sources.  The lespedeza planted was usually Sericea:

  1. nature.mdc.mo.gov/.../field-guide/sericea-lespedeza

    Although introduced in hopes of providing food for wildlife, sericea lespedeza is unpalatable compared to native species because of the high concentration of tannins in its tissues. Sericea has a deep taproot allowing it to outcompete native plants for water and nutrients.

     

    Quail can starve to death with full crops of Sericea.  In some but few instances Korean and Bi Color were planted and those certainly have food and cover value to quail.  However in more recent studies the shrub type lespedeza's like Thunbergii or perhaps even Japonnica are more recommended.

     

    Autumn Olive is now considered an invasive species by a number of states and its removal has become a directive on many state owned property's.  Illinois, as an example has conducted hydro axe operations followed up by stump herbicide application in and effort to remove the shrub from state properties.  It serves little to no browsing for deer as proved by Michigan State research and as far as ground species of birds few make use of the berries as they must get in the tree to access the berries.  Sure I have killed quail with some berries present in their crops buts lets remember the birds are at risk feeding up in the shrubs via raptorial predators  and as many know their numbers have grown considerably.  The birds are not dumb....

  

Pretty sure the QU people planted korean and tried bi-color where they tried to reintroduce the bobwhites.  You are correct I believe about the other species  being worthless for bobwhites I believe.  

 

Those dumb arse southern appalachian  grouse loved the autumn olive. Maybe thats where they went wrong and have virtually ceased to exist in many areas now   They were starving  themselves out by eating those stupid dreaded , invasive species autumn olive berries. As to climbing in bushes to eat the berries , the ground under the bushes was covered in berries and the shrubs gave them perfect overhead cover from avian and other predators.

 

 Seriously,  If you knew where there was an autumn  olive patch with berries it was the first place you would check on any given grouse hunting day from about 1970 on.. 

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2 minutes ago, mister grouse said:

Pretty sure the QU people planted korean and tried bi-color where they tried to reintroduce the bobwhites.  You are correct I believe about the kobe being worthless for bobwhites I believe.  

 

Those dumb arse southern appalachian  grouse loved the autumn olive. Maybe thats where they went wrong and have virtually ceased to exist in many areas now   They were starving  themselves out by eating those stupid dreaded , invasive species autumn olive berries. As to climbing in bushes to eat the berries , the ground under the bushes was covered in berries and the shrubs gave them perfect overhead cover from avian and other predators.

 

 Seriously,  If you knew where there was an autumn  olive patch with berries it was the first place you would check on any given grouse hunting day from about 1970 to 2000. 

 

 

I can believe that.  I am confident the quail I killed with the berries in their craws likely got them off the ground.  

 

Sericea is the bad one.  Kobe does have some food quality if I remember correctly.  We got sericea started in our pastures thanks to a custom cut and bale crew and its such a prolific seed producer that we are now treating the pasture at least once every year (sometimes twice due to our growing season)  with "Remedy" which is about the only herbicide that will kill it without killing off too much else. We are reducing it slowly but there was such seed  production that this may go on for a bit.  I hate the stuff.

 

The reason it was used back in the day was that it is prolific, holds soil in place and it can grow on very poor soil.

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