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2021 Great Lakes Grouse Talk & Reports


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7 minutes ago, Pinecobleguy said:

Grouse season in MI is closed during firearms deer season (Nov 15-30).  Grouse season in Michigan runs from Sept 15-Nov 14 and December 1 through Jan 1, that's 91 days to hunt grouse in Michigan.  That sounds like a long time but for those of us who don't live near grouse cover it's not that much time.  The first two weeks are too hot and too green and the week of Christmas is usually out.

I get it.

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I have been out and about, but man do I hate this hot weather.  The dogs are hanging tongue and I have been soaked head to toe from sweat on most outings.  I can't wait to see 50 degrees for a high. 

Had to go on a little road trip this morning to pick up some stuff my wife bought online. Our trip took us through Park Falls, WI. You know the place, Ruffed Grouse Capital etc., which kind of rubbed

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Small sample size from a casual hunter, but fwiw it seems my easy to access covers which get hunted harder than they used to, the issue is not so much harvested birds as birds that become difficult to hunt because they get spooky.

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Skybuster
2 minutes ago, Reeba said:

Small sample size from a casual hunter, but fwiw it seems my easy to access covers which get hunted harder than they used to, the issue is not so much harvested birds as birds that become difficult to hunt because they get spooky.

This is most certainly true based on my experience. Get off the roads and go deeper for birds, especially in late season.

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17 minutes ago, Reeba said:

Small sample size from a casual hunter, but fwiw it seems my easy to access covers which get hunted harder than they used to, the issue is not so much harvested birds as birds that become difficult to hunt because they get spooky.

 

7 minutes ago, Skybuster said:

This is most certainly true based on my experience. Get off the roads and go deeper for birds, especially in late season.

 

Within about ninety minutes of Minneapolis, the public land gets pounded.

 

North of Highway 200, outside of the handful of National Forest areas that draw traveling hunters, I hardly see anyone walking with a dog.

 

Both areas seem to have suffered similar population decline regardless of hunter numbers.  If anything, the decline is more noticeable the further north you go.

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2 hours ago, caleb said:

Within about ninety minutes of Minneapolis, the public land gets pounded.

 

North of Highway 200, outside of the handful of National Forest areas that draw traveling hunters, I hardly see anyone walking with a dog.

 

Both areas seem to have suffered similar population decline regardless of hunter numbers.  If anything, the decline is more noticeable the further north you go.

 

I am with you on the 90 minutes thing, but there is still a lot of great hunting inside that 90 minutes for someone willing to bust cover.

 

I've always used 210 as the dividing line not 200, but I take your point to an extent.  You will catch a lot more crowds on the east end of the state than you will the west.

 

I don't know what I think as far as a decline.  Grouse numbers cycle.  I have some covers that are down, but I have some new ones that are dynamite.  For me hope springs eternal.  It's just over that next hill or 10 miles down the road.  The best grouse dog I have ever owned is turning 11.  The last couple of seasons has taught me that a lot of what I thought was me, was really him in his prime making me think it was me.

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GANGGREEN

I can't really make any knowledgeable comments about the Great Lakes region because I haven't been out, but I am planning on being in the upper lower Peninsula from September 26th-29th.  I'd greatly prefer to be there about 2 weeks later, but I hunt with a group that does a cast and blast and trout season ends in September so we're stuck with it.  I'll have a blast either way, but hopefully the grouse numbers are good.

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Dave Medema

I’ll let the season happens as it will. I’ll be out as much as I can chasing my dog. If there are lots of birds or few, I’ll still be having fun. 

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9 hours ago, Pinecobleguy said:

Grouse season in MI is closed during firearms deer season (Nov 15-30).  Grouse season in Michigan runs from Sept 15-Nov 14 and December 1 through Jan 1, that's 91 days to hunt grouse in Michigan.  That sounds like a long time but for those of us who don't live near grouse cover it's not that much time.  The first two weeks are too hot and too green and the week of Christmas is usually out.

 

Well..it may not be a lot of time for, as you say, those that don't live near grouse cover but I guess it's a long time for whatever's being shot at. Having said that - here's an admittedly casual and anecdotal response from someone who killed his first pat about 1960 - 60 plus years or so .

 

The first pat I ever saw was when sitting on a deer stand in 1959  and I wasn't exactly sure what kind of bird it was. A year or so later myself and a couple of high school buddies had access to a couple of trailers in the Gaylord, MI area and we started hunting birds in earnest with a couple of what passed for bird dogs. We just hunted along the two tracks, cut across the brushy cover, worked our way back to the trailers and moved birds most everywhere we went - not tons and tons of birds but again birds most everywhere.

 

Jump to the early 1970s and up to the U.P. with actual pointing dogs, SxS bird guns etc. We didn't hunt hard as there was no real need to because we would move birds along every two-track, swamp edge , aspen cut etc. that we hunted around. Again not tons of birds but birds most everywhere. Back then woodcock and pat season opened Oct. 1st and went to Nov. 14th. , the 15th. being opener of deer season. It was great hunting, cover and temps. were beginning to ease up 10/1 and one could count on moving birds without a whole lot of effort. 

 

Then the DNR went to a December season and then to a Sept. 15th. opener. I remember seeing a photo on another Michigan site of about 20 butterball size pats strung along a barn wall the day after the 15th. opener with three or four guys high-fiving themselves over it. I'd be hard to convince that adding 46 days to the season had no affect on bird populations - especially the early opener.

 

I've posted this sort of response over the years on other sites and have largely been taken to task for it -" the DNR says that....", "...grouse population surveys show..." and the like. Having said all that despite cuttings, grouse management areas and the like there are not the number of birds there were in the intervening years . There have certainly been ups and then downs and then ups again but the ups don't quite seem to get up to the previous ups. When I lived in Detroit circa. mid-1960s I could drive out to three or four state game areas within 45 minutes (Brighton/Ann Arbor) or so of where I lived and be assured of moving pats - not a lot but actually moving some and killing one or two here and there. Even those marginal areas that once held birds were totally  bereft of same by the mid-70s. 

 

Ruger 1

 

 

 

 

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On 8/29/2021 at 8:54 PM, Steelheadfred said:

 

Well,  he has said also for 20 years "you'll probably find birds where you found em last year."

 

We had almost zero rain first 20 days of June.  By my calculations,  it was the best June since 14.

 

I am curious about what this fall will bring because I agree that this was by far the best weather spring we have had across the great lakes in a long time. Hunting pressure, predators, and disease are obviously all factors that impact grouse #s but weather must play a part as well. We have been in a very long wet cycle and I don’t know if that is permanent due to climate change or not but I do know that back when we had more birds it was generally dryer especially in the spring, and there was more cold and snow in the winter.

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Steelheadfred

I was out fishing for 6 hours last night with my area fish biologist,  our steelhead runs on the east coast of Lake Michigan have been on a steady 5 year decline,  this is not untypical as they cycle opposite of grouse. 

 

Fishing always best in 3s, through 8s.

 

We've had record high lake levels through out Michigan,  awful spring floods. 

 

The steelhead like very stable water levels,  not to high not too low.  Of course their is a cry to reduce limits.  But the biologist when they shock streams find an abundance of smolts. Leading to believe that our spawning pairs are at carry capacity. 

 

That's the goal with Grouse,  more habitat bigger carry capacity.  Limits or season length probably has zero impact,  they are self limiting in the difficulty to hunt.  

 

In north west Michigan and the UP it's rare you get any meaningful hunting in December,  snow depth is limiting factor let alone access to covers.  I think my best December ever I killed 12 to 14 grouse,  that's not impacting the population. 

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5 minutes ago, Steelheadfred said:

I was out fishing for 6 hours last night with my area fish biologist,  our steelhead runs on the east coast of Lake Michigan have been on a steady 5 year decline,  this is not untypical as they cycle opposite of grouse. 

 

Fishing always best in 3s, through 8s.

 

We've had record high lake levels through out Michigan,  awful spring floods. 

 

The steelhead like very stable water levels,  not to high not too low.  Of course their is a cry to reduce limits.  But the biologist when they shock streams find an abundance of smolts. Leading to believe that our spawning pairs are at carry capacity. 

 

That's the goal with Grouse,  more habitat bigger carry capacity.  Limits or season length probably has zero impact,  they are self limiting in the difficulty to hunt.  

 

In north west Michigan and the UP it's rare you get any meaningful hunting in December,  snow depth is limiting factor let alone access to covers.  I think my best December ever I killed 12 to 14 grouse,  that's not impacting the population. 

Ya but wheeler hunters salivate for snow cover. To those of us that brave the elements in December behind a dog, our collect harvest numbers are a fart in a whirl wind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Season is open or opening across the region.   What are your plans?

 

Will be sitting this weekend out and attending my daughters golf tournament.  Have never made it a point to hunt opener but do have bigger plans this year for a long weekend at the cabin during the 2nd weekend.

 

Good luck to those that do get out and hopefully we some some reports and pics in the thread.

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Leaving Wednesday.  Will be hunting by Thursday.  Planning on 7 or 8 days of hunting.

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The oldest daughter roped me into being an officiant at her friends wedding.  So we had about an hour and a half to go hunting and couldn't be late or I'd be handed divorce papers which would make being the officiant even more awkward than it already was. So of course as I'm hurrying through the thick cover to get back in time, a bird flushes forward to where with more time I might be able to push it out of the jungle for the only shooting opportunity of the hunt.  Not worth getting divorced over so we proceeded towards home.  As it turned out I spied a porky 20 yards later so we would have had to leave anyway.

 

Copper:0-8.thumb.jpg.3dd4e7d0a4c6fcdb97d2bf36953c3a48.jpg

 

This is actually more sparse than the cover we hunted:0-7.thumb.jpg.b4ec79b86a3aacfb3a55c442cb6a4970.jpg

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Took the young dog out (1 1/2yrs old Gsp) Sat early while it was cool, only moved 4 grouse in 2 hours no points = no shots fired. Nice morning registering 39 degrees on my way to the spot in northern MN. The young dog worked the cover well only getting away from me an uncomfortable amount a few times. Love having a GPS collar and letting them roll without worrying too much. At least I know I can find him, if I can catch up that is, young dogs can really fly through the cover. Fun to watch him work. 

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