Quit the grousing
Thinking about a mid-September ruffed grouse hunt is enough to take some of the sting off summer’s hot, humid days.
But the news, fully anticipated for the last three years, reported a 25 percent decline in the roadside monitoring survey of drumming male birds.
Still, there was some encouragement because biologists suggested that the weather this past spring was good for nesting and brooding hens and their poults.
What, if anything, should hunters make of the late downswing in population estimates? Or, the chance that fewer of the growing chicks will succumb to rain, cold, food shortage or predation?
Probably nothing, but these are good positive talking points. And we don’t have to partake, or listen, to what is often baseless babble associated with deer.
Hunters are accustomed to the overused, but probably true, statements about hunting the best habitat when the population swings down and hoping for the best because weather could be a make-or-break factor.
It might be time to take those phrases to heart, however. It might be time to hunt big, search more, look for new areas, but maybe not so far from where last year’s hunts started or ended.
Habitat changes, succession occurs in forests, logging occurs, food sources change, even during the season, and hunters should be aware and consider these before simply returning the same old areas. Let’s not be like a deer hunter who climbs the same tree, at the same time each season, and expects a different result.
Scouting is much talked about by deer hunters. And even though fewer really scout, some certainly do and it helps. Why not a walk though areas and listen for flushes, or at the least drive some forest roads early in the day and watch for broods and individual birds?
We may not be able to beat the system of low populations during years ending in 9, 0 and 1, but remember the population did beat it last year and maybe the year before that. This is 2012 and the population is now projected to drop compared to 2011. But it didn’t drop in 2009, or 2010, or 2011.
Something happened, at least in some regions. Something held the birds up a year or two, unless the cycle is slipping one way or another. Hunters can make something positive happen during their seasons, too.
It’s called scouting, which includes listening and talking to others who know more than we do, who are in the woods more than we are.