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View Full Version : December pheasant hunting should not be allowed.



fallcackles
04-22-2011, 11:26 PM
Yeh, this will raise some hackles. But seriously, anyone who knows these birds understand you cant keep kicking them out of limited winter cover and expect them to survive our winters or the predation that comes when they are busted out of cover. The DNR, when they allowed this put the last nail in the coffin of our pheasants. Before anyone gets riled up, let's think about this. I've lived and hunted these birds for decades around the thumb, winter cover is very, very sparse. These areas need to be protected....not hunted in time and time again in December. We have damn near lost every bird here this winter. Those birds that you guys busted out of their winter cover in December were lucky, they just died earlier in the winter. Just for a moment, think about what you are really doing next time you hunt wild birds in December.

FCSpringer
04-23-2011, 07:13 AM
In my opinion. Hunting in Dec has nothing to do with winter survival. Your problem is clear in MI. No pheasant habitat, or very little. We out here in the main pheasant belt have been hunting them in DEC for eons and to no affect. The difference is we have more nesting cover. Sure the woods and such can help for winter but the grass lands are a must for you to sustain your population. If you look at the crp or related acres in each state. Look at the harvest #,s in comparison.. Not barking back at you but trying to say I believe your wrong. You need to get the state to do more habitat. What is good for turkeys is not the same for pheasants for example. MI is a woodland state if I am correct, and also low on the pole for CRP acres right?

Tbear
04-23-2011, 08:13 AM
Not hunting in december:confused: If you want more pheasants than you need more cover. Hunting them does not hurt the population you can shoot 90% of the roosters and not hurt the population. Good cover is the key to a good phez population.

fallcackles
04-23-2011, 12:48 PM
We dont have the winter cover thats needed for winter survival. I agree under a utopian climate that 90 percent of the roosters can be harvested but....lets get real. Those that hunt here in Dec. know exactly what I'm talking about. You bust the birds out of there very limited winter habitat you have just reduced the chances of winter survival for both hens and roosters to ZERO. Think about that next time you hunt birds Michigan in December.

FCSpringer
04-23-2011, 05:36 PM
OK you just stated your problem, they cant survive, not any cover. Get involved, get proactive, and do something about it. Start sportsman's clubs, habbitat projects, pheasants forever, talk to legislators. Vote pro sportsmen. And so on. Complaining about seasons will do absolutely nothing for you. Good luck:thumbsup:

fallcackles
04-24-2011, 09:31 AM
I have been involved with PF for 15 years. I have planted ON MY PROPERTY acres of switch grass, have two ponds with good cattail growth and food plots. Pheasant hunting is my passion but refuse to hunt them in December. Those that hunt pheasants in December in Michigan cannot see beyond the end of their own nose and are greatly impacting winter survival.

Hunter1
04-24-2011, 06:16 PM
Well no hunting in Dec lets see we have to stop black powder for deer for it may bust a pheasant or two out of cover, then lets stop Dec Goose an most of all Dec,Jan,Feb an 1/2 of March Rabbit hunting. All of these are on Public land open to all. An may cause cover busting of Pheasants,Be real, think about what your implying!

CRP
04-25-2011, 09:32 AM
Here in SD birds die from long winters with either no cover or snow too deep to get to the food. I shoot a lot of birds in Dec before severe winter sets in, and there are still plenty of birds left going into Jan.

If you have a problem in your area, go to the DNR and complain to them.

FLDBRED
04-25-2011, 11:27 AM
I kinda see his point.While it is true that hunting pheasants in Dec. in "good habitat" will not have an effect on their overall survival,hunting them in marginal habitat might push them over the edge!I think everyone will agree that habitat is the key,so while that habitat is being created maybe a shortened season isn't such a bad idea!

Tom Sokol
08-27-2011, 08:24 PM
I can see both sides of the issue. It's great to be able to work your dog for and extra month. Not that many days with good weather. I feel guilty everytime we put a bird in the air, wondering if it will make it back to safe cover. I only run my coverts once and then move on. Yes we need more cover but with farmland selling for $6,000.00 and acre plus in my area there will be less cover not more. We may be a dying breed here in MI. If the DNR dropped the Dec. hunt it would not break my heart.

mmelton
08-04-2012, 08:02 PM
how do you guys feel about the December Grouse season hear in Michigan some guys are against that too.

I say let the so called experts decide if I can hunt or not if there is a season for birds I'm going to go out and hunt.

FCSpringer
08-04-2012, 10:40 PM
I would not worry about it. Go enjoy the out doors while you can.

Gus
08-09-2012, 12:24 PM
Huntin Birds in December is fine if you have birds. i respect the opinion of the guy who owns the property.

haymaker
08-09-2012, 01:52 PM
Yeh, this will raise some hackles. But seriously, anyone who knows these birds understand you cant keep kicking them out of limited winter cover and expect them to survive our winters or the predation that comes when they are busted out of cover. The DNR, when they allowed this put the last nail in the coffin of our pheasants. Before anyone gets riled up, let's think about this. I've lived and hunted these birds for decades around the thumb, winter cover is very, very sparse. These areas need to be protected....not hunted in time and time again in December. We have damn near lost every bird here this winter. Those birds that you guys busted out of their winter cover in December were lucky, they just died earlier in the winter. Just for a moment, think about what you are really doing next time you hunt wild birds in December.

It depends on the winter. Early December is my favorite time of the year to hunt, weather permitting. Last year it was no problem. Two years ago I told guys they could not come. When the birds go into survival mode the hunting stops.

CRP
08-09-2012, 07:35 PM
It's really as simple as ABC:

A. There is access to land in Dec not available in Oct or Nov.
B. There is MUCH less hunting pressure in Dec.
C. Birds with no cover will die anyway whether hunted or predator/winter kill.
Isn't it better to put those birds in your freezer than watch the hawks eat
them in Jan??? Also, too many unharvested roosters compete with hens
for winter forage.

1pheas4
08-09-2012, 07:43 PM
Hunting birds in December is okay my friends.:)

I really don't consider it a time of the year when birds are suffering (typically).

Mid-late January with sever temps and record snow fall could be a different story for wild birds and everything else game bird/mammal. By then, the season is closed in most northern pheasant states anyway.

OldDublin
08-10-2012, 06:58 AM
how do you guys feel about the December Grouse season hear in Michigan some guys are against that too.

I say let the so called experts decide if I can hunt or not if there is a season for birds I'm going to go out and hunt.

Many sadly feel the same way...one reason why some portions of the ruffed grouse range have increased decline issues.
"Experts" often have political state jobs and do not like to anger hunters.....good decisions do not always track with them.

Michigan tho has an advantage with snow, both for roosting and limiting access to coverts.
Ohio, for example, has no weather issues and little snow with coverts often easily accessed from roads above and below....birds would get slammed to 40% of the total harvest being in February...often by skirmish line post deer season deerhunters.
Thankfully, the ODNR shortened the season one month, to alot of hunter whining...too little and too late it was, but a good deal it was as well.
No, it is not a major decline factor, however when the birds are on a low portion of the decline curve then true late season hunting's significance increases dramatically.

Problem with the ruffed grouse is far too many folks believe the bird faces equal conditions across it's large range. They look at the upper great lakes and make assumptions for the central appalatchians...dumb, and speaks to little knowledge of the bird and what it faces rangewide. RGS deserves a large part of the blame for bad info but so do grousehunters who prefer the "it's legal, I can, I want, I will" school of grousehunting.
As a result, the ruffed grouse suffers further in some areas.
"Kill 'em while we got 'em" is not rare to hear.
I do not expect that selfishness to ever change.

Late season ruffed grouse has little comparison to late season pheasant, whole different bird and population dynamic.

RK Special K
08-18-2012, 09:57 PM
Here's the underlying basic problem with Michigan and all the other former pheasant states east of the Mississippi River:

12,000,000 people live in the LP of Michigan - 1960's freeway projects led a lot of these people into already crumbling habitat after the loss of the soil bank and more efficient clean farming. Michigan also agressively reforests itself in the agri-burban countryside now filled with us, which rubs pheasants the wrong way.

In the entire state of North Dakota there is only 550,000 people - 20 times less than Michigan and ND probably has 100 times more CRP and other excellent habitat features.

I'm VERY surprised that Michigan ever had good pheasant #'s. For a very brief, completely unsustainable, moment in history, they were here. That VERY fragile period existed only by tip-toeing on lily pads and razor thin ice. We fell through - it's OVER!

Look in the mirror - that's THE problem. It's pheasants or US. We now occupy almost all of the former habitat and have not maintained the tiny leftover scraps.

Pheasants need BIG SKY, horizon to horizon, grass and croplands to have large #'s of birds. We could have this only if we removed 10,000,000 of us, bulldozed out 65% of our trees, and planted 15% grass and the rest crops.

Let's face it: The eastern states ARE NOT suitable for pheasants!!!!!! These are deer and turkey states. If you want to hunt these, the eastern states are fine. But if you want to hunt pheasants, go to LOW population states with suitable habitat. Large numbers of people and large numbers of pheasants DO NOT co-exist. It's that simple!

Iowa has also now come down with terminal "pheasant cancer" - that is, too many people and too little habitat. As a pheasant destination state, it is on life support and in 3-6 years, the plug will be formally pulled, and like coroners, pheasant biologists will attempt to tell us why it died.

We've got to quit kidding ourselves and face reality:

Michigan is a good deer and turkey state so let's concentrate on making it better for those. I will add Ruffed Grouse to these but in the LP, they are under severe pressure. They don't co-exist well with lots of us either!

SD, ND, MT, NE, KS, and smaller parts of other "western states" are good for pheasants so let's concentrate on making these states better for those.

OldDublin
08-19-2012, 07:53 AM
...Let's face it: The eastern states ARE NOT suitable for pheasants!!!!!!

Yes, most will find limited, problematic and possibly short-term success with pheasants.


...These(eastern states) are deer and turkey states...

No, not only...by a long shot.
Other gamebirds exist besides the pheasant.
Relegating those birds to a non-mention in favor of the current popular critters that gobble or sprout headgear is a large part of the problem...realized or not.

If conditions in some sections can be improved for the pheasants in the Eastern half of the country, if money is found to support the program and if the DNRs have the heart,energy and will coupled with that money then the stab at improving the pheasant's lot is a good idea in the East.
One tho must guard against falling in love with an idea and the project must be viewed on it's on merits as it proceeds.....not just the fact alone that the exercise may result in more banquet tables.
Middle ground is often the best ground.

RK Special K
08-19-2012, 10:46 AM
I did mention ruffed grouse but we(people) are pushing them farther north.

Case in point: I began hunting ruffies seriously as a teenager in the early seventies in areas of Michigan between Grand Rapids - Big Rapids - Mount Pleasant - Greenville. Did ok up thru the early nineties. One of my best large coverts north of Greenville had an abandoned railroad thru it and old abandoned christmas tree farm next to it. In the mid-nineties, the RR was paved over and made into a bike trail - bikes, skate boards, baby strollers now pass thru the middle of it. The old christmas tree farm was bought and a $400,000 house with a big pole barn was built on it. A large manicured and landscaped backyard was installed. The good grouse habitat on it was slashed, burned and cleared out from under the large trees. ATV trails were made for their kids to romp around on. Numerous and prominent "NO HUNTING or TRESPASSING" signs were placed on every tree that could hold a nail. This was 40 acres in the middle of rural Michigan "farmland". There are probably NO ruffies left in that area and if there is one left, it will be seen only by a well-trained birdwatcher with binoculars! I bet his yard is over-run with deer and turkeys, however.

Forget about pesticides, predators, or even clean farming(it's too late for that). Again, look in the mirror - yup, that's him! - that's the culprit. Too many of us wanting to live on a piece of rural agri-burbia!

1pheas4
08-19-2012, 11:41 AM
In the mid-nineties, the RR was paved over and made into a bike trail - bikes, skate boards, baby strollers now pass thru the middle of it.

This is a very common case for many of us RK. Just down the street from where I live used to be a pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit, deer mecca. A reporter (can't recall his name) used to write articles in the sporting section of the local newspaper about one of the roads cutting through this area. Most of the time you could see pheasants along the road side. Lot's and lot's of pheasants. Even in people's back yards looking for food in the winter. Pheasants!

It was just beautiful until the early 1990's when development started in that area. Today, it's all roof tops. All of it. I drive through and see my old favorite creek running under a bridge along the road. It was a wood duck honey hole at one time. Some of the hedgerows are still in place due to small creeks running through them. Now they all have houses backed right up to them.

I drive my wife nuts every time we drive through there because I tell stories about how I shot a long tailed rooster where that house sits, or I bagged a double on wood ducks behind that house there.

I was looking over some bagged game pictures the other day from back there. Two very nice "ring-less" roosters, a rabbit, and some wood ducks, mallards, black ducks, Hungarian partridge. The area had them all! I can go on and on my friend. It's disgusting what our local politicians have allowed developers to do to our land. They want that tax revenue. I guess I shouldn't go there with that one. Sorry.

OldDublin
08-19-2012, 12:01 PM
Certainly Progress and People make a difference.
Especially when it comes to Leasing, urban sprawl, developments of all manner, glamour game of the moment and a Public misuderstanding of what constitutes a healthy forest.
This is clear in many eastern states and for many species, from gamebirds like the ruffed grouse to non-game species such as the golden-winged warbler.
The West being no stranger to the same condition, degree being the only difference...ie, the sage grouse.
That same Progress tho is not new and has often carried benefits to the country.
We all tend to look at progress from too narrow a perspective and too short a time span.

And that element of degree is where Michigan is lucky in that while Michigan has much farmable land, it also has much ground that will never be developed or developed beyond a recreation level. Add in the available corporate land where the nature of doing business benefits much game and non-game. Then there is the CF Act...Michigan may be whistling up a string re pheasants in many ways, in other ways it, and the other great lake states, possess far more plusses than negatives for gamebirds....even considering the unstoppable nature of human growth.
One can rant about the obvious human factor, and as a resident of Ohio I have seen far more gamebird negatives than any Michigander, but that fat lady won't stop singing.
Same as folks complaining about federally protected raptors...that decline factor also hears the big lady's song.

The only solution, East or West, is education of the Public as to what is being lost, some creative out-of-the-box thinking regarding answers and an admission and recognization of several points.
Some of those being, all the factors present in any gamebird decline must be acknowledged; change is constant; less can be lived with and often is in the eye of the beholder; some gamebirds such as the ruffed grouse, are inherently weak by their wonderful nature and, extiraption is not abnormal.
Mostso with any introduced species.
And every gamebird species should not be put everywhere...the turkey is a wonderful example of that idea and the pheasant also, tho to a lesser degree.

RK Special K
08-19-2012, 12:49 PM
The Ruffed Grouse Society is a good organization and does some good work, especially on bigger, more remote, areas that are in need of clearcutting, etc.

They should begin to focus more on preventing the previously mentioned suburban ABUSE of our rural farmland and adjacent low-lying scrub woods and upland woods, for that matter. Non-farm houses should be allowed ONLY within SHORT distances of existing urban/suburban cities or villages. NOT 15 miles north of town on a 40 acre chunk of Farmer Joes farmland! That's a POOR use of property if we value the future of hunting at all.

Pheasants can't be saved in Michigan but Ruffed Grouse in the LP are on the edge of a cliff and could be saved because we have the basics to support them.

Another disturbing trend I've noticed: Deer hunters erecting elevated shooting towers and clearing out scrub brush for "shooting lanes". I don't be-grudge them the woods and there far more of them than us lowly grouse hunters. Just one more "nail in the coffin" for us Michigan uplanders, though.

1pheas4
08-19-2012, 01:19 PM
Pheasants can't be saved in Michigan

RK, I know you've made your statement on the basis of modern farming practices where little hope remains for responsible land management on the part of far too many:(, but pheasants can come back.

It doesn't take a lot to give pheasants what they need to thrive in comparison to other game birds such as the sharptail, or prairie chicken.

With some help from us (human beings) pheasants can very well come back in strong numbers to Michigan, just as they can in other states like IL, IN, OH, etc. Pheasants do okay in their native lands, but their numbers explode when humans give them proper habitat within our agriculture range.

Will it happen? Can't say. I hope so, but hope isn't enough. Continued action on our part is what can make the ring-neck come back to Michigan and other states. He can come back, if we let him.:)

OldDublin
08-19-2012, 01:32 PM
Actually, the RGS traditionally and incorrectly look to small acreages for the grip & grin photo ops on private lands.
What they took for granted was the commercial acreages....especially re public access and so public viewing of what early successional delivers for many species.
Only as of late have they been addressing national forest issues to any extent.
Frangmentation of those small parcels is the kicker....Michigan tho has an abundance of land serving as grouse sinks to help ease the fragmentaion concern....from below-the-bridge to mid-michiganish.
Below that, I would agree, the grouse face challenges more common to most of the appalatchians.
Michigan proper will remain, with the other great lakes states, as grouse country for the far foreseeable future, as the plusses are many.
Local extirpation tho is not unexpected at the edges of that portion of the ruffed grouse range.

Deer hunters can be a problem but cutting brush is good as can be any lane which lets the sunlight hit the forest floor.
They are bad as they are often dog-killing SS&S folks, they run deer feeders which feed the nest predators, they skirmish line grouse hunt the woods after deer season in many areas and the DNRs find their preferred game to be as easy to manage as 1+1 thereby sapping money and energy from the management of the total of a state's game.
Deer are bad because they can stunt natural regeneration and early successional....I simply wish the deer hunters would not worry about G2s and kill more deer......and feed the raccoons less!!!

To an extent, Pheasants will work in Michigan.

RK Special K
08-19-2012, 03:54 PM
Here's the other, farther reaching, "virus" that the rural countryside is infected with when we let "cityslicker, nature/animal lov'n, suburbanites invade "farmland". Here's the scenario:

"Hey Mr. Farmer, I came out here for peace, quiet and to enjoy the wildlife, NOT kill it! When my wife and daughters hear the crack-crack-crack of gunfire, they have visions Columbine and cry uncontrolably. Since we paid you $350,000 for this 40 acres, the least you could do for us is post your property and stop all this senseless killing!"

"Well.... gollie.....um..... Mr. Slicker, sir, for 5 generations we've allowed hunting on our prop......Gotta stop ya right there, excuse me Mr. Farmer but how much did we pay you for this proprty? Well, well, well......quite a bit, sir. That's right and you should be a good neighbor and stop this insanity. Well, my hunter friends won't be happy but.....Stop again - Did they pay you $350,000 to hunt?"

This is a bit dramatized, only to get my point across. I also don't want to stereotype either. Many people move to the country to hunt also. But, on this issue, I think they should drive there and hunt, not LIVE in it.

OldDublin
08-19-2012, 04:37 PM
I understand that any neighborhood can change and, so-called, non-hunters often edge out from populated areas.
I know that farms get sold that used to be open to hunting and the new owners now lease the hunting rights or set up their own deer feeders.
I have seen fields destined to be airports and schools.
Also witnessed locals on 4-wheelers riding roads and potting sitting grouse....I hear the key is to never turn off the engine.

Might be nice to fence off a property from being sold to the wrong folks or to fence in some favored decade of the past but in reality that will never happen.
All the while the tough decisions necessary for the questionable solutions remain unaddressed.

RK Special K
08-19-2012, 06:10 PM
1pheas4, I truely appreciate the optimism, but for me, there are just WAY to many IF's in the Michigan Pheasant Equation. Could we get a few, relatively small areas, in several counties to have decent bird numbers - I suppose, but we would all have to have our backs to the cracking dam, pushing with all our might to barely stave off the inevitable. It would last for a few years until we ran out of money and the will to hold back the pressure. And I doubt that at its peak, it would serve enough hunters.

Another issue with Michigan is this: The value of property is, on average, even as farmland, to high for it to be commited to pheasant habitat. It's cost prohibitive on a long-term basis. Property out west is expansive, habitat condusive and CHEAP! Well, a lot cheaper than Michigans, let's put it that way. Ya baby, we can work with that, cost effectively.

In 2001, when I first went out west to hunt birds, I looked around in complete awe..........oh......oh.....oh.... I see! I see! Now this here is REAL pheasant country........THIS is what it takes! There ain't no way, no how that Michigan will EVER have this. Nope, not in claustrophobic Michigan. I get it now - as the lightbulbs in my head went nuts!

It's probably much more cost effective for Michigan pheasant hunters to get in their SUV, drive a day westward to "pheasant land", pay for a motel for 5 days, then drive back. Maybe, even do this twice a year. Probably more cost effective than "holding back the dam".

Michigans whole schematic is hostile to pheasants - go with the flow.....go west young men. And old too!

All of the above said, I truely hope the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative gets some traction and we at least get some wild, huntable numbers, somewhere.

RK Special K
08-20-2012, 12:19 AM
On Ruffed grouse habitat:

Clearcutting, generally, but especially clearcutting OLD stands of Aspen is VERY beneficial to grouse BUT, totally clearing out grape tangles, dogwoods, small aspen shoots, and other low growing scrub brush while cutting off the low branchs of old aspens and other large trees to expose a barren forest floor is "skull and crossbones" for grouse. Add intensive human activity to this barren floor in the form of ATV's, snowmobiles, and lots of hikers and grouse are LONG GONE!

There is no redeeming grouse benefit from what deer hunters did to another 240 acre property near Cedar Springs, MI. My buddy and I found this cover in the fall of 1988 - shot 4 birds off from it in 1.5 hours. 85% of it was A+ grouse cover: thick tangles, dogwood, medium size aspen, everything a grouse craves. The 4 birds were beginners luck on that property but for the next 4 years it was always fun and good for a bird or two.

Fast forward to 2002: Deer hunters had taken over the property! Erected FIVE 30 foot high towers on the property and cleared out almost every low growing vegatation on the property while leaving all the big oaks, ash, and now aging aspen trees. THE best part of the property were these god-awful thick tangles beside a wide drainage ditch. 350 yards along the thickist side were COMPLETELY removed of ALL vegatation with towers erected on each end of this 350 yard stretch - "gotta see'm while they're get'n a sip of water".

Ok, enough rag'n on the deerhunters. They simply have a different purpose and it's NOT good for grouse.

OldDublin
08-20-2012, 07:22 AM
On Ruffed grouse habitat:

Clearcutting, generally, but especially clearcutting OLD stands of Aspen is VERY beneficial to grouse BUT, totally clearing out grape tangles, dogwoods, small aspen shoots, and other low growing scrub brush while cutting off the low branchs of old aspens and other large trees to expose a barren forest floor is "skull and crossbones" for grouse. Add intensive human activity to this barren floor in the form of ATV's, snowmobiles, and lots of hikers and grouse are LONG GONE!

There is no redeeming grouse benefit from what deer hunters did to another 240 acre property near Cedar Springs, MI. My buddy and I found this cover in the fall of 1988 - shot 4 birds off from it in 1.5 hours. 85% of it was A+ grouse cover: thick tangles, dogwood, medium size aspen, everything a grouse craves. The 4 birds were beginners luck on that property but for the next 4 years it was always fun and good for a bird or two.

Fast forward to 2002: Deer hunters had taken over the property! Erected FIVE 30 foot high towers on the property and cleared out almost every low growing vegatation on the property while leaving all the big oaks, ash, and now aging aspen trees. THE best part of the property were these god-awful thick tangles beside a wide drainage ditch. 350 yards along the thickist side were COMPLETELY removed of ALL vegatation with towers erected on each end of this 350 yard stretch - "gotta see'm while they're get'n a sip of water".

Ok, enough rag'n on the deerhunters. They simply have a different purpose and it's NOT good for grouse.

RK,
1988-2002 would be 14 years and sure to oncoming death to many grouse coverts, especially aspen-based......succession is relentless.
Aspen with a stem density to best suit grouse does not last. If there were medium aspens with the extra undergrowth you mentioned then that cover was old in 2002 and earlier. In areas of high bird populations, comparably, old cover will indeed hold grouse but use may be more limited, certainly shots easier for hunters....the cover is simply past prime.
Hardwood coverts age as well.
I would guess the age of that cover did not help and on a covert basis hunter additivity in any season is a possibility...especially if the cover and surrounding cover was fragmented and growing older with this one.
Yes, the deer hunter, non-hunter intensive activity and hunter activity, not limited to deer hunter brush removal, likely played a part as well....very possibly in flushing the grouse in the later season and so opening them to avain predators and kicking them off their preferred homerange where the grocery store was open.
A person, hunter or not, does not have to shoot a ruffed grouse to kill it!
And, as with all ruffed grouse declines, one can never smartly point to a single black hat cause.

Deer hunters as a problem for ruffed grouse exist more as I earlier described.
Deer hunters as a problem for ruffed grouse hunters exists as you just described.
There is a difference.

RK Special K
08-20-2012, 08:37 AM
Again, the root cause of Michigan's upland bird woes is this: PEOPLE, too many of them!

Too many recreationalists

Too many houses where they don't belong

Too many deer hunters and turkey hunters

Too many! Too many! Too many!

It's just WAY to crouded and claustrophobic in Michigan. We suffocated and choked off the pheasants and in 40 years we will have sent the last hen grouse, with her chicks, running for their lives across the Mackinaw Bridge!

OldDublin
08-20-2012, 10:11 AM
Nope, root cause would be the attitude of people, whether they move to the country or not, hunters or not....in Michigan and beyond.

Knowing many grouse hunters in Michigan and the numbers of birds they encounter and kill....many, many ruffed grouse remain with the Trolls.
They also have an actual Cycle in Michigan, as opposed to other areas of the range....that Cycle can influence yearly bird contacts big time.

Sorry you have experienced successional issues in the grouse woods, however, that is a common problem more and more, everywhere...as with human intrusions into coverts and covers.
If you live in Michigan tho and are a grouse hunter...then you are very lucky and should be counting your abundance of blessings.

RK Special K
08-20-2012, 11:11 PM
Well, good attitude or not, it's hard to "see" the problem when we are standing smack dab in the middle of it, looking around and saying "what's the problem......hm....hm...It MUST be out THERE somewhere. We ARE the problem because we exist. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK....hello...We occupy the pheasant habitat! We're living in it! We pushed them out, then scratched our head and said "where did they go?" It's been converted to HABITAT FOR HUMANITY. To a lessor extent, this is THE same problem with grouse and will only get worse until we have about as many birds as Maryland or Massachusetts.

Oh well, those people in those two states just had a bad attitude, otherwise those states would be ruffed grouse meccas? Nope. They had decent attitudes, but their back porch now sits on top of Burton Spillers favorite covert from 1939. In those states, there simply is NO ROOM for a great attitude to work its magic.

It's infinitely inevitable. History is a perfect predictor of the future on this issue. As human occupation increases, most wildlife becomes more scarce, and finally to near extinction. I'm sure there are rare exceptions. Some faster than others but upland game birds are especially vulnerble. Oh, we will have heroic rescue efforts, but they will only move the inevitable a bit further into the future.

In a different sense, but under the same principle, we did the same to Native American Indians. We pushed them out and put them on reservations, which are nothing more than large human museums. We simply took their habitat for our own occupation! It's sad because in their own VERY special way, they are GREAT people.

Extrapolating far into the future: In 1000 years, will there be anything to hunt? I doubt it. There could be 750 BILLION people by then(exponents do wonders on numbers). The only "hunting" that will be done will be on a simulator on the 500th floor of an "outerspace-scraper" which sets on top of what used to be remote, desolate Montana ranchland.

Back to the specific issue at hand: A South Dakota farmer once offered me this bit of common sense: "In Michigan you have 12 million people and 500 thousand pheasants. In South Dakota we have 500 thousand people and 12 million pheasants!" It really isn't any more complicated than that.

Boys, it's high noon, opening day in South Dakota! LET'S GO HUNT!

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 12:51 AM
Also, I agree that Aspen age in the grouse range is AN issue, BUT it is NOT the OVERRIDING issue to which I address: Because of the number of people in Michigan generally and the overwhelming greater number of deer hunters versus grouse hunters, the deer hunters croud us and our concerns out. I understand - this is America - the majority rules. There is GREAT strength in numbers.

If there were less people, AND, in this case, many less deer hunters and their corresponding pressure, that 240 acre parcel might be available for grouse habitat management. Although, realistically, that property would have still held birds today because it was plenty diverse. Would some of it need clearcutting by now - oh, sure, but it was by no means a "dead" cover in 2001. That said, it would not do much good to exist as an island of grouse habitat amongst a sea of surrounding, deer hunter occupied, decaying,
"abused", deer range.

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 07:26 AM
I believe Mr. Spiller was at home a bit more north and sometimes west of those two states...tho he may have made a hunting trip to either.

Portions of Marlyand were good grouse hunting and some, I reckon, would still be found.
Many say it was good ruffed grouse hunting since there is no national forest in Maryland to be ignored.
Which plays into the attitude...Public and Political.
Untill value is placed by the public, voting booth and not, where it belongs, ie with forest systems managed for health thru diversity of age class, early successional critters will suffer.
The unstoppable growth of that Public being a secondary issue.

There is indeed room left for the ruffed grouse in the eastern half of the USA tho what happens in a millenia I question for many reasons.
Essentially, much of ruffed grouse cover was created by the expansion of the people you deride...westward and for reasons of growth elsewhere. Both those factors resulted in abnormal levels of ruffed grouse following the turn of the last century and that is when ruffed grouse hunting became more than a subsistence choice.
Not very difficult to find compables with humans and other gamebirds after the same fashion, both to the positive and the negative results.

Population growth/expansion as a way to look at any critter issue(or north american aboriginal issue...odd addition to the subject at hand:confused:) is a dead easy route to take and of little to zero practical value....it simply stirs as a subject but there is no affecting it long term.

You still place deer hunter impact with volume/pressure and not with the real culprits that practice enables.
Deer hunting boomed within the last 20 years or so, the grouse decline in many areas began well before with that aging successional of the previous near 100 years as reason #1....but, the reasons are very wide, deep and complicated.
In Ohio, the decline to my eye began in the late 70s.....deer hunting/ leasing/etc. then was not the same and some parts did not even exist to be a factor.
That sport has more an impact today simply because the ruffed grouse have slid farther down the decline curve to allow all the lesser factors of decline to gain greater importance.

The simplistic look of that South Dakota farmer indicates little understanding of the totality of ruffed grouse history and issues.....I'm beginning to believe the same...of others.

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 07:33 AM
If you guys are short on ruffies, come out here. We have plenty.
And you can shoot some blues too while you are at it!

I have a friend in Idaho.
That tri-state NW area appears a birdhunter dream for many species of gamebirds.
You, like the Michigan folks, are lucky in many ways.
I suspect tho that you realize your luck.

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 09:51 AM
I certainly do not mean to "deride" people. We need habitat too! But we are fierce competitors for it. Good for us - we're winning! Bird numbers are on a long term decline, we are on a long term increase.

There were MANY more upland game birds 100 years ago than today. More ruffed grouse, many more sharptail, praire chicken and quail, many, many more sage grouse. In the east, we made the heath hen go extinct. Human inhabitation is THE overriding factor in the decline of almost ALL wildlife. Deer do seem persistant and resilient, however.

I will stand by the SD farmers statement and defend it as VERY relevant to this issue I address. I will also stand by the Indian experience as a VERY proper GENERALIZATION of my point.

As a subset to the issue of people crouding, I VERY much appreciate and respect the efforts and ideas of others to work WITHIN the context of what I feel is the overriding problem. Hey, we got what we got, it is what it is. If we can find a way to work with it - let's do it!

I own 320 acres in ND and have done much with habitat on it. But I feel it is money well spent because the property exists within a proper, overriding landscape theme out there. Pheasants in Michigan do not exist within a proper overriding landscape theme, very minor areas excepted. That "theme" will not change significantly unless you remove most of US!

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 10:28 AM
I would bet a large donut that there were more ruffed grouse 100 years ago than 200 years ago......same as people.
People to a large degree delivered high ruffed grouse levels...and pheasants too.
Sustaining levels is the issue now and sustaining can carry too many negatives, is subject to politics and often requires more than folks are willing to give or able to understand.
Expecting the ruffed grouse to ever approach 1900ish levels would carry far too many of those negatives...as much as I selfishly would like to see it.

All that makes the world go and the particulars of the critter itself determines that some critters will never make it longterm.
It's natural.
It's Life.
As is burgeoning population growth.

The SD farmer view was "simplistic" as I noted, true in general but simplistic and the comment ignores much of the ruffed grouse story, needs and stabs at solutions.

While many gamebird populations will never again see their high point, some may approach it for varying periods of time. What will allow the approach is people and an attitude shift as I explained.
We differ...I think we need people but people open to understanding past their ignorance of many species and a consideration past themselves re gamebirds.
The last would especially apply to the deerhunters you dwell upon.
Reducing the number of people on earth would not solve the ruffed grouse decline across it's range.
It might even hasten it in some areas.

Too many today focus on the problems facing birdhunters rather than the issues facing the birds they hunt.

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 10:31 AM
We do....however, there aren't as many phez as their used to be. That can be tough.
Quail are plentiful, but a long way from me. It would take many drives, and fruitless scouting trips to build up some honey holes.
Chukars.......... the same.
Huns are down right now.
I do have good numbers of sharptail to chase fairly close to home. But season is short (30 days) and bag limit is two.
The forest grouse really have no factors affecting them other than natural. That is why they always seem to be doing good. But, being a rooster chaser at heart, I can't seem to get after grouse once long tail season begins. Plus the cover is brutal on the dogs. They have no abandon streaking around woods filled with deadfall covered by ground shrubbery.

Yes, many gamebirds go thru cycles of population....some recover and some do not.
That Idaho friend was once telling me of the wonderful high of valley quail that dropped and another acquaintence notes the decline of ruffed grouse in his part of Idaho.
It happens.
Having a near double handfull of upland gamebird options tho is more than that with which many are blessed.

1pheas4
08-21-2012, 11:46 AM
That "theme" will not change significantly unless you remove most of US!


"Removing most us" won't bring pheasant #'s back. Proper land management will. The theme can change regardless.

Despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants and other wildlife could be a thing of the future (even far into our future) if we'd just pull our heads out of our @$$es and do what's necessary to bring them back.

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 04:35 PM
I love this debate. This is what this forum should be used for.

I will certainly agree on the point of hunting habit vs. habit in general. "Honeyholes" are one thing and long-term, life-cycle hbitat is another but there is SIGNIFICANT overlap. They are inseparably intertwined and joined at the hip.

I may also agree with you on the point of some human activity being good for grouse. BUT, if this is true, the following may apply:

Year MI Population(LP) Grouse numbers in their range
==== ========== ======================
1700 10,000 2 million
1920 2,000,000 5 million
2012 12,000,000 500 k
2100 40,000,000 ? 2 birds ?

If I could graph it, the population line would climb steadily upwards to the right. The grouse numbers line would form a bell with its top over 1920.

Of course, I don't know the actual numbers. This is only to illustrate a general concept. We've probably gone WAY beyond the point where human actvity is beneficial. It's a BIG downer now in the lower half of the LP. I'm interested now so I'm actually going to find out what Michigans population history is.

As I have said, there is true hope for ruffed grouse in Michigan IF we reign in willy-nilly placement of human dwellings AND manage what's left to us properly. In the LP, above a line say from Ludington to Bay City, I see some opportnity. Below that line I have my doubts. There is just too much human intrusion to overcome, cost effectively.

The UP is a whole 'nother matter. It's essentially a clean slate and is already a good place for ruffies. And it has ALL the "proper. overriding, landscape themes" for ruffed grouse. Doing what Gordon Gullion told us to do could triple or better grouse numbers up there. Creating a patchwork of edges, etc. would also vastly improve its huntability come fall(there's that aforementioned "intertwining"). Why, my gosh, it could become world renowned!

The UP will be "chuck full" of people some day. But probably not even in my grandson's lifetime.

Another case on upland birds: The SE part of the United States once had a tremendous number of wild quail. We run them little buggers out of there on a rail! I would be surprised if it held 2% of what it had 75 years ago. With habitat management gone crazy we might bring it back to 5%. Not worth it. There is just not enough raw material to work with anymore - GONE!

Exciting numbers of pheasants in Michigan, throughout their former range, is like a mirage. It will vanish every time we chase it. Can relatively small areas be improved upon? Oh, I think that is possible, but only for the benefit of a small percentage of Michigan hunters. And I suppose it is worth trying for that.

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 04:43 PM
Hm.... what happened to my table? I'll try again.......

Yr Pop. Bird #'s

1700 10,000 2 million

1920 2,000,000 5 million

2012 12,000,000 500 k

2100 40,000,000 ? 2 birds ?

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 05:45 PM
Ok, now, this is only a fantasy, a dream, so don't you deer hunters storm my house with your high-powered rifles:

Ban deer hunting in the entire UP and commit it totally to ruffed grouse. Turn it over to the Ruffed Grouse Society and let'm have at it. Throw huge mega-banquets and raffles to support it. Raffle off 500 acres up there - 500 tickets at $2,000 a crack. The money raising schemes would be endless.

Lobby congress for clearcutting funding and hedgerow/food plot plantings. Just like the CRP program for grass.

Really get with the timber outfits to do it right! Etc, etc........

Michigan's LP: Deer and turkey

Michigan's UP: Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock

It seems so fair to me!!!!! :)

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 05:57 PM
I suppose if one wants to guess then 2 million ruffed grouse in 1700 in Michigan would indeed fit the bill.:D
Some comments just make you smile, and some make you spit Russian Caravan tea on your computer.
Estimations would be not far different.
I believe Michigan curtailed it's drumming survey and whether drumming survey or pheasant road count, the accuracy is always in the quality of the surveyors....and the quality of the surveys themselves in years past.
They are a tool but not the sharpest one in the box.

The difference here appears to be between human activity in the grouse woods(deer hunters, nature lovers, 4-wheelers, developers, etc.) and human activity(voting, inputting at NF Review opportunities, questioning age-old hatreds such of logging, etc.) trending toward understanding the value of that healthy forest for species far beyond those we hunt ie the neo-tropicals....or, put another way, additude shift derived from education and understanding....a difficult endgame but a vital one.
One example of where understanding is helping is the Golden-winged warbler Initiative.....elevation critical but a plus it is.

Stated ad nauseum, humans spread outward.
Unstoppably.
Critters are impacted.
Unstoppably in many cases.
That's a non-starter just the same as "boy, if we 'uns could only kill hawks."
Waste of computer time to address.
It's easy to say tho as it's easy to avoid the tough questions that need addressed with ruffed grouse and other gamebirds.
As humans spread outward as a given so do humans always avoid both questions and answers that demand sacrifice or considering sacrifice....far too often, as a given.

The northern lower is in no danger of overpopulation within the lifetime of anyone's childrens here. The northern lower will continue to see development which will carry plusses and minues for the ruffed grouse.
As one heads toward longterm then the minues will likely increase...that darn Life again.
The things to watch in the U.P. are leasing, paper company woes as are occurring now, TiGs with a anrrow money focus and dumb people focusing on themselves.

I would not call this a debate, RK. ;)

OldDublin
08-21-2012, 06:01 PM
Ok, now, this is only a fantasy, a dream, so don't you deer hunters storm my house with your high-powered rifles:

Ban deer hunting in the entire UP and commit it totally to ruffed grouse. Turn it over to the Ruffed Grouse Society and let'm have at it. Throw huge mega-banquets and raffles to support it. Raffle off 500 acres up there - 500 tickets at $2,000 a crack. The money raising schemes would be endless.

Lobby congress for clearcutting funding and hedgerow/food plot plantings. Just like the CRP program for grass.

Really get with the timber outfits to do it right! Etc, etc........

Michigan's LP: Deer and turkey

Michigan's UP: Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock

It seems so fair to me!!!!! :)


There goes the tea again.:cool:

If this is an example of considered thought or the RGS is actually considered a savior then the ruffed grouse faces an even tougher row to hoe than I thought.
Good Lord.

RK Special K
08-21-2012, 07:34 PM
OldDublin, my last post was not serious. It was intended as pure humor. If it was not for you, I'm sorry.

The major emphasis of my posts are that most former areas of upland bird abundance are not worth the money to restore. The majority, perhaps to a degree yourself, seem to feel otherwise and I absolutely will defend and debate the opposite on what I feel is based on sound observations and commom sense. I think that the number of people inhabiting the landscape is a VERY excellent way of prognosticizing the likelihood of upland bird restoration success.

And of course this is a debate, you have your views and I have mine. I don't think pheasants are worth restoring in Michigan, perhaps you do. That IS a debate. And a VERY good one for Michiganders to have!

I'm sorry but the RGS does possess some knowledge on the bird. But as far as ruffed grouse management goes, if you have a better idea on orchestrating good grouse management practices, let's hear it.

Your spitting is not only a waste of computer time but also your computer. Stop it!

OldDublin
08-22-2012, 07:24 AM
Forget "build it and they will come" as a given everwhere.
Understand that ruffed grouse do not face the same conditions or require the same help across the range.
Consider that understanding can require unpalatable to hunter ideas such as shorter seasons to reduce hunter additivity in late winter....and that "too late" is no reason not to try and "hurts my hunting" is an even poorer reason not to try.
Help the grouse by not focusing on the grouse!....hunters can come across as selfish and short-sighted.
Read ruffed grouse studies with a honest eye to what was said....and to what was not said or not done in the study.
Join organizations that oppose conditons helpful to all early successional species such as, in Ohio, the Buckeye Forest Council and be a well-spoken thorn.
Lend your voice at NF meetings(Plan Review and other) and take little steps in making the old growth anti-hunters blink with well-offered thought.
Support the RGS if it delivers out-of-the-box thinking such as the grouse permit on deer leases paper company land in WV....it failed for many reasons but was a sound idea as it addressed the grouse, the hunter and the company. Don't support them under the idea that they are the only game in town.
There is obviously more that can be done on a big picture or small picture level. Think about it and think beyond the obvious or the trite.

Pheasants in Michigan...a far different bird than the ruffed grouse and one which benefits from T&T, R&R and habitat that can be created in the blink of an eye, comparably.....I think that small pheasant steps are good ones. They may not lead to a SD experience in Michigan but that, as earlier stated, carries more downsides than up in today's world.

As before...
"Stated ad nauseum, humans spread outward.
Unstoppably.
Critters are impacted.
Unstoppably in many cases.
That's a non-starter....."
I have heard offered the humorous solutions and I have heard offered the simplified solutions of the Past, neither of which have delivered much under today's requirements.

Have a good day.
No further need to restate the restated.

RK Special K
08-22-2012, 08:13 AM
OldDublin, I never said that the northern half of the LP was to overpopulated nor did I even imply it. In fact, I strongly implied the OPPOSITE by stating that I see opportunity there for better ruffed grouse management, inhabitation practices, and dwelling placement. Even now, if I went to the Grayling area, I'd quickly figure it out and get birds. But my old haunts in Kent, Montcalm, Gratiot, Mecosta, Newaygo counties are diificult if not "dead".

In truth, I have not hunted ruffed grouse much in the last 10 years because of the changes and because my time is spent out west hunting pheasants, sharptail grouse, and huns. Perhaps, I'm a bit spoiled now.

I also agreed that a minimal amount of human activity/intervention is probably beneficial to ruffed grouse. Our early settlers did it by happenstance. I want to emphasize MINIMAL. To much human presence is almost always a sure way to decrease upland game species. During this rising presence, habitat management practices will have increasingly LESS effect. At a point, it becomes cost probibitive for the isolated gains obtained. We are FAR past that point in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for pheasants.

Hey, I can learn to hunt deer and turkey. I might like it! There is nothing wrong with either of them. Deer hunting simply has a "crouding out" effect on ruffed grouse habitat and hunting. I will add that deer hunting practices in the last 15-20 have become increasingly more pro-active and intense. Didn't Grampa simply walk deep into the woods and sit at the base of his favorite old oak tree with his brown overalls on?

1pheas4, I truely respect and appreciate your opinions, and in VERY isolated areas, pheasants can be helped in "the east". I do however strongly disagree that "despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants.......could be a thing of the future"[in the east]. It just defies reality. The landscape has changed DRASTICALLY over the last 50 years and it is NOT comimg back for pheasants. Ten years ago I believed as you do. But I've pulled my head out and can see the light. We've been delt a new hand - I picked up my five cards - yup, three with deer, 1 with turkey, and 1 with ruffed grouse.

There are areas out west that need better pheasant habitat and with relatively little effort and cost it responds with "home runs". But not in Michigan! Good grief! No way.

1pheas4
08-22-2012, 09:23 AM
[QUOTE=RK Special K;116160]1pheas4, I truely respect and appreciate your opinions, and in VERY isolated areas, pheasants can be helped in "the east". I do however strongly disagree that "despite an increasing human population, record amounts of pheasants.......could be a thing of the future"[in the east]./QUOTE]

RK, I've been told to put the optimism away a few years ago. Indeed (for the most part) I have. My post wasn't meant to hand out a dose of "feel good". Instead, I was addressing the fact that it comes down to land management.

What good will it do to remove most of us, and have nothing but fields of emerging buck throne and honey suckle?

I've watch enormous groups of wild pheasants fly into cattails to roost outside my motel room in the town of Mitchel SD. In the 1990's I used to flush healthy numbers of wild pheasants just outside my cousins door, 20 min. west of downtown Chicago.

Managing the land made this happen, not removal of most humans. Land management is the answer. I believe increasing wildlife populations can coincide with increasing human populations with proper land management.

Will it happen on a large scale? In reality (as you said) probably not. But again, proper land management is what it takes.

Anyway, RK I figure you'll get a kick out of the optimism coming out of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Their long term wild pheasant harvest outlook is pinned at 1 millions birds a year! What do they know that we don't:confused::confused:

RK Special K
08-23-2012, 01:46 AM
OldDublin and 1pheas4, I very much appreciate both of your responses. They were both refreshing and interesting.

The following is the best way I know to express my understanding of pheasants:

My Dad grew up on a farm near Standale, MI. There were plenty of pheasants around their farm and in Michigan but in the fall of 1949 both he and my uncle began going to SD(little town of Carpenter just south of Clark) with about 6 other guys. They said Michigan was good but South Dakota........WOW! It was crazy FANTASTIC! They felt like they were there to rid the countryside of these swarms....literally waves upon waves of these corn eating locusts. They were HELPING this farmer out and all the other farmers around! Pay to hunt? Never heard of such a thing! They slept in the farmers basement in sleeping bags and they ate all their meals with the family which, of course, they did pay for. Daily limits were VERY high and those were frequently surpassed they do admit. All the farmers family had licenses so it was "not a problem". The season was shorter than today. I have pictures of them grinning ear-to-ear with their WMD's beside stacks of birds 3 feet high and 12 feet long. After a week, they would return to Michigan after shooting nearly 500 hundred birds. My Dad quit going after 1963 and the group kind of splintered off soon thereafter.

Fast-forward to 2012: Not much at all has changed in South Dakota. Why, I bet if you took a time machine from 1960 to 2012, you might hardly perceive a difference - a few more abandoned, dilapidated farmsteads, a couple fancy motels on the edge of town, Wal-Mart, Cabella's in Mitchell - that's about it - yawn. AND you could still drive for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles..........and see nothing but the horizon in the far, far distance and endless, boring, tedious, gargantuan seas of corn, grass, soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, grass, soybeans, corn, sunflowers, grass, wheat, grass, soybeans, corn, grass, sunflowers, wheat, grass, soybeans, grass - from one side of the horizon to the other.........and, and, and.................
PHEASANTS!!!!!!!............EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, time has not stood still in Michigan nor been kind to it. It's now a tired, old, worn out rag of a hag. Infected by irreversable, massive viral intrusions and expansions into its fragile pheasant environment by a population 10 times the size of South Dakotas. Something HAD to give!

Here's what I truely believe about pheasants:

They are close to an ALL or NOTHING proposition:

If you have everything pheasants need you will have ALL the pheasants you could possibly handle. We'll call this 100%

If you have 75% of what they need you will only have 25% of the birds.

If you have 50% of what they need you will only have 10% of the birds.

If you have 25% of what they need you will only have 3% of the birds.

I believe Michigan is now at 25% of what pheasants need. That is REALLY sad and sobering. What this means to me is that we would have to TRIPLE our "What they need factor" to obtain 25% of what we want. We have WAY to far to go to get what we DON'T want. I'm depressed already.

Pheasants are practically a praire type bird that has a preference to eat a farm type crop. Michigan is not a praire type of state and to get there I simply don't think it is even close to possible anymore. It amazes me how damn close we got in the 30's, 40's and 50's and we "faked it" real good for that "blink of an eye" period. But we stand naked now, as the true imposter we are, is exposed.

1pheas4
08-23-2012, 08:23 AM
I believe Michigan is now at 25% of what pheasants need. That is REALLY sad and sobering.

Indeed it is. Particularly when considering what the pheasant requires to survive and even thrive. It doesn't take much!!! He tolerates us fairly well in comparison to other game birds within N. America.

We've managed to find a way to screw him over too. Sad and sobering.:(

OldDublin
08-23-2012, 08:44 AM
OldDublin and 1pheas4, I very much appreciate both of your responses. They were both refreshing and interesting....


I would add accurate, thought-provoking and independent of high-five interest to both as well. :)

If you were/are trying to incite a discussion based upon the idea that population growth delivers negative effects to gamebird populations, specifically pheasant or Bonasa U, then that would be, as said, a non-starter....I confidently believe folks reading this message board need little convincing along those lines.
Principally because many of us have lived the event.

However, what many here appear interested in is providing a pheasant experience for others(kids and dogs especially) and themselves.....often in areas which have few birds.
Either few remaining for myriad reasons or total absences for additional reasons.
Not everyone had or knew relatives who had, and I would add never should have had, experiences with pheasants resulting in piles of gone-home pheasants high enough to repel blue-painted Picts.
As with the common photos of ruffed grouse overflowing bushel baskets, that was a sign of times which would carry, again stated, too many negatives or was of a time of understandable and important "growth" and one for which folks would have benefitted from a bit of restraint.

A SD pheasant experience is not really needed, imho, by a kid or a dog...they seldom or don't really have the comparative experience to understand and appreciate the difference or, basically, their concept of happy and enough does not fall beyond the moment.
Because of that there is a place for the less than jaw-dropping re pheasants...and that lower level of glut can be provided by a released bird experience, a small population bird experience on the farm of a family friend or even a Preserve.
Any of those three can be provided by a level of pheasants in Michigan or Pennsylvania or wherever.
The real sticker is whether funds are available to support the program, funds use is viewed honestly and apportioned fairly over time, enough folks support the effort and...a good dose of luck is spooned down the throat.
In other additional words, RK...kids likely would not know an "imposter" from Adam's off ox and if a few birds can yield a few good experiences under some applied commonsense, then good.

Also good that you did not apply the % reasoning to the ruffed grouse issue....there are few true comparisons between those species and.......I have a cup of tea again.

RK Special K
08-23-2012, 10:19 AM
Hold the tea! Hold the tea! :)

No, my previous post had nothing to do with ruffed grouse. Their needs have their own peculiarities. Different subject matter.

And don't get to rapped up in my % numbers. Feel free to adjust them as you might feel they should be. They are only meant to be "rough" approximations based upon a certain level of understanding that I have. You may have different takes based upon your understanding.

I am more confident in my pheasant %'s than I am with the table I prepared previously for ruffed grouse. It was "off the cuff" but still reflected a general idea:

To simplify:

No people - 30 birds

20 people - 90 birds

80 people - 20 birds

Where the maximum is 100 for both people and grouse. It trys to reflect a concept of a little bit of human agitation is great - too much is really bad.

I agree, we don't need the god-awful amount of pheasants that SD had in 1949 or perhaps even what Michigan had back then. A good experience pheasant hunting shouldn't have to based on those bird numbers.

I have one more "fun" analogy for Michigan pheasants:

The situation is not like re-arranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. We were there between 1963 and 1970. The situation is like re-arranging the deck chairs with a remote mini-sub, after she's been on the bottom for 42 years, hoping we're going to raise her up and restore her back to full glory!

I am going to take a break from this for awhile and LISTEN to reasons why I might be wrong on all of this..........and I hope like hell that I am! I really do!

RK Special K
08-24-2012, 01:53 PM
Just a reminder on a patient in critical condition:

Iowa is where Michigan was in say 1967-68. She's hit an iceberg and taking in water fast. Flares are being shot in the night sky. An SOS is frantically being tapped with morse code. Will her water tight compartments hold and keep her from sinking? She might have a bit more raw material to work with than what Michigan had in our time of crisis but it's close, man is it CLOSE! The western half might be salvagable, especially the NW. And let's not forget SW Minnesota. The eastern half appears to me as too far gone. Crop prices, land values, loss of CRP, people factor - with some luck and effort, a couple of these factors could change for the better in the west. A lot of her landscape mimicks the praire ok - not great but it's adequate.

The California and Carpathia are around, but, of couse, they would only serve to rescue the surviving hunters and carry them to safety in SD, ND, MT, NE, and KS. Let's hope we don't need them! I hate going to funerals.

FCSpringer
08-24-2012, 05:09 PM
Good god, LOL. Enough allready. Go enjoy the out doors and be happy. You could move to islamabad and see how that pans out.:rolleyes:

Tireguy
08-31-2012, 08:10 PM
December hunting is not the problem. Shooting roosters is not going to hurt the population. What we need to do is reduce the predators, coyotes, house cats, possums and etc. If we ever want to see pheasants in Michigan of any quantity we have to deal with the predators. I have driven through the thumb of Michigan after the crops are down and counted 20 plus house cats (and not on porches or in barns). I live in Michigan and see lots of good habitat for birds, but no birds. I also believe that is the problem with our Ruffed Grouse population, even though the birds are cyclical the highs keep getting lower every time.

mmelton
08-31-2012, 08:47 PM
we could get rid of a hell of a lot of racoons and coyotes that would help for sure. In the 70s people in michigan could make a living of collecting furs but there just isn't much money in it anymore

RK Special K
09-01-2012, 09:09 PM
South Dakota has certainly as many predators as Michigan and probably many, many times MORE per square mile.

It's HABITAT! If you removed every last pheasant predator in Michigan, you would NOT see a significant rise in bird numbers. See my previous posts. There is simply no room at the INN here in Michigan for large numbers of pheasants, with or without predators.

In my book, predators are more than welcome to co-exist and even thrive within the context of good/excellent pheasant habitat. But this may be closer to the truth: Great pheasant habitat promotes large #'s of pheasants and in turn, good pheasant habitat is probably not as good for their predators. Bad pheasant habitat is probably better habitat for predators. That's why you see so many.

The habitat in SD and "out west" is so overwhelmingly in favor of pheasants that you hardly recognize larger predator numbers. The number of birds WAY exceeds the ability of predators to significantly impact them - even at higher predator #'s than in Michigan.

Pheasants will become virtually extinct in Michigan in less than 40 years - well, about like New Jersey, Maryland or Massachusetts. Are there any wild birds in those states?

I don't hunt ruffed grouse on the plains of Nebraska and nor would I ever consider improving the habitat for them in Nebraska. I would hunt them in northern MI, WI, and MN and improve habitat there for them. I don't hunt pheasant in the wooded, broken up farmland of Michigan and nor would I ever consider improving habitat for them in Michigan. It's WAY to far GONE! I hunt them in SD, ND, and MT and pheasant habitat projects there reap HUGE rewards. My gosh, what is all the fuss about - hunt them where they like to live and quit trying to force round pegs into square holes!

OldDublin
09-01-2012, 10:16 PM
At the risk of continuing a pretty well hashed idea....Habitat is not always the answer....it is the the shallow one.

FWIW, we in Ohio have some good and some developing ruffed grouse habitat now...and few grouse, other than secreted in pockets or holding their breath in a quiet cove.
There is a theory mostly related to deer called the Predator Pit, or some such.
Basically, once deer are reduced by hunting say or removal of too many does, etc. then the predators, ie coyote, effectively prevent the deer from prospering back....I may have not explained it well but...the general idea is out there....fully backed, or not.
Habitat, at some point, simply can not succeed alone as a reviver of any critter population.....takes more to climb out of the pit they find themselves in with circling predators all around.

For ruffed grouse I have been saying much the same for years....once the population slides so far down the decline curve then even the best of habitat will yield little positives. What needs additionally addressed are all the smaller factors of decline from hunter additivity and beyond. Factors that a healthy gamebird population can more easily absorb....but, most everyone first yells the easy and trite...Habitat!
It is not as simple as that everywhere for the ruffed grouse(I wish that it were) and I would guess that it is not the same with pheasants either....tho they do respond to habitat...quicker, along with being aided by a helping hand from the release truck.

IF you removed every, single predator in Michigan then you would indeed see more pheasants, imho.....you would see them where habitat exists and in habitat much more marginal than any specie requires that is strafed by various predators day and night.
You would not see them in a ShopKo parking lot...that would be asking too much.
But....it is all of little importance as predators, 4-legged and 2, will not be removed and habitat by the nature of us humans will continue to be reduced and negatively affected....as but two points.
None of that tho is any reason to grind under a boot heel any stab at helping some pheasant populations for some folks, often young and local folks...if, as I earlier mentioned, some commonsense, perspective and sound limits are applied to the venture.

The much talked about SD and other western states have their own issues with prarie chicken and sage grouse and even sharptail declines, some short-term and some long-term...some even likely to be occassioned by pheasants and what they have brought...and others tracking man's footprints.
Gamebird populations will always be in flux and birdhunters will always need to be adaptable to the real world....as it changes.

RK Special K
09-11-2012, 01:09 PM
I agree with the term "shallow" if, by definition, these are MICRO habitat projects within a vast arena of very marginal, declining, and adversarial MACRO habitat themes.

Generally, when I use the term "habitat", I mean immense, seemingly endless amounts of "foundational" habitat. This would be "macro-habitat" or, in other weords, the "overwhelming landscape theme" as a required base.

Within this macro-habitat theme, small, micro-habitat improvements are VERY beneficial. Without a tremendously expansive, macro-foundation and background, micro projects are almost useless.

mwilly56
10-12-2012, 11:23 AM
Three reasons for less Pheasants in Michigan Habitat, Habitat, Habitat. As for winter hunting, no impact, unless your shootings hens. Last actual winter we had was in 2011 not 2012. And numbers don't appear to have changed .

Tireguy
10-12-2012, 09:42 PM
Okay, why is there so few birds where the habitat is good? I agree you cannot hurt populations by only shooting males, however the predator chain kills anything it can. We have a overpopulation of predators such as house cats, coyotes, possums, raccoons, crows and hawks that all need to eat. All issues need to be addressed including habitat and predators.

RK Special K
10-30-2012, 02:17 PM
Michigan does NOT have the vast, macro-habitat themes required to support a healthy pheasant population. Oh sure, you will see 600 acres here and 300 acres there in a vast area of PREDOMINANTLY useless and even hostile habitat, but those small islands of habitat don't get it done. LARGE areas of grass, crops, grass, crops, grass, crops.......seemingly endless, from one horizon to the other and encompassing 4,5,6,....12.....15 counties, then we can talk about "fine tuning" this habitat for even better numbers.

Michigan CAN'T have good pheasant numbers because:

1. It is not a praire state and there are too many trees.

2. There are WAY too many people in Michigan(it's US or pheasants).
Pheasants are VERY intolerent of large numbers of people.

3. The farming practices on the scraps of ag land left are hostile to
pheasants. The value of farmland in MI is too high to expect it to be
committed to pheasant habitat.

So, to recap:

You will have the foundation for good pheasant numbers IF:

1. The over-riding landscape theme is PRAIRE.

2. VERY low people numbers - at the most, 1/10 of what Michigan has. SD
has 1/10, ND has 1/20! This part of the equation is VERY important!

3. LOW ag land values: < $1000/acre is ideal - when it rises above
$2500/acre, long-term good pheasant numbers will be hard to sustain.

4. Last but certainly not least, GRASS, GRASS, GRASS, GRASS, GRASS.
Yup, LOTS of it! My gosh, it's what pheasants call their HOME! Without
LOTS of it - NO PHEASANTS!!!!!!!

OldDublin
10-30-2012, 02:29 PM
You really need to consider a bit, RK.....consider losing the agenda apparently driven by generalizations, misconceptions and comparing a perfect Grimes Golden to a less than perfect Winesap.
The idea is not that Michigan or Pennsylvania ever will be North Dakota.
The idea is to provide a pheasant experience for which no dog and few hunters would look down their nose....and fewer still would waste time in making the comparison to a Grimes and a Winesap.
Because, perfect is not the important point of the matter.
And comparisons?....well, they are a luxury not all can enjoy.

Tireguy
10-30-2012, 04:47 PM
RK what you say is somewhat true, however we still have some habitat that could support birds. Birds and people not tolerant? How about birds and predators, cats etc. Michigan will never be like hunting the Dakota's but as I stated predators are a problem that should not be ignored. I cannot legally leave my dogs run loose, but I drive by homes in pheasant country with lots and lots of cats running loose.

RK Special K
10-30-2012, 11:26 PM
If "somewhat true" you mean 98% true, I would agree. The last 40 years of Michigan habitat history proves my "theories" correct and, over the next 40 years, as the people population continues its persistant invasion into and its saturation of any last remaining tidbits of pheasant habitat, true wild pheasants will be virtually extinct in Michigan.

Great pheasant habitat "out west" supports many more predators AND MANY, MANY, MANY, MANY more pheasants than Michigan does. Besides, there is no proven cost-effective way to control predators no matter what the habitat is like so it's a moot issue.

HELLO! - more predators is a decent indication that your pheasant habitat is thriving. I just got back from MT and ND. Saw more skunks, raccoons, hawks, foxes, cuyoties, etc. than I could believe. And on cats: a retired farmer whose land we hunt has a barnyard FULL of cats - he loves them - all 65 of them - big ones, little ones, everywhere. His 480 acres is some of the best we hunt - his tree rows are FULL of birds! The habitat on his property is like a PF poster. As is most of the surrounding 6-8 counties around him.

But if you have a cost-effective method to significantly reduce all those mentioned rascals, I'm listening.

A base, foundational, macro-habitat theme is EVERYTHING.

If it were 1953 in Michigan and you asked me: "How would you protect the pheasant habitat we have here in Michigan". My answer: I would put a fence around every city and village and not let anyone out and I would keep the soil bank and require farmers to keep as much grass in the future as they have today. That unrealistic opportunity is LONG gone! That "blink-of-an-eye" period came and went many years ago - it's OVER.

marshrat
01-22-2015, 12:54 PM
Great conversation here and very civil - unlike most of these discussions on Internet forums.

I was a wildlife manager in Michigan. I did my college work on ruffed grouse, and worked on deer, turkeys, grouse, the Sichuan pheasant program, waterfowl...habitat management, etc. I managed a state wildlife area in southern Michigan and worked in the U.P. My family and in-laws live in the Traverse City area. I have extensively hunted throughout the state of Michigan (deer, Turkey, rabbit, squirrel, waterfowl, pheasants, ruffed grouse )and have also extensively hunted Wisconsin (deer, grouse, pheasants, waterfowl) North Dakota (pheasants, waterfowl, sandhill cranes, sharp tailed grouse)Nebraska (pheasants, prairie chicken), Kansas (pheasants) and Colorado( deer, elk, pronghorn, pheasants, doves, waterfowl). I say this not to brag but to just point out my hunting experience juxtaposed with my biological knowledge and experience as a wildlife manager.

It is indeed a fact that all wildlife species have their own set of unique habitat requirements for breeding, birthing, bringing up young, and survival to breeding age. But "habitat" is THE basic requirement. Considering habitat Ina most-general sense, there can be "habitat" devoid of good numbers of critters, and there can be limited numbers of critters existing in very marginal "habitat". This is especially the case in areas which are marginal range for the species under consideration.

The lower the quality of the habitat for a given species, the greater the impact on that species from other negative influences. Take pheasant predation for instance; in the Dakotas, with its seas of grasses and agriculture as previously described, there are tremendous numbers of predators. But they have very little overall impact on pheasant numbers because of the sheer abundance of high-quality, year-round "habitat". Pheasants, being non-migratory gallinaceous birds (as are ruffed grouse), need all their life requirements in a relatively small area. It is generally agreed that where ALL life requisites for the ring-necked pheasant exist in about a square mile, there is a good chance pheasants can be sustained, and where they do not exist pheasants will not and cannot be sustained in any significant numbers over the long-term.

Islands of seemingly ideal pheasant habitat, which exist throughout many parts of the Midwest, might be able to support a few birds now and then. However, as the landscape in southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, southeast Minnesota, etc., has transitioned from a family-owned "farmscape" with lots of "waste" and "inefficiencies" to a corporate-owned "agriscape" with just the opposite, the only thing that exists in many places are relatively small islands of habitat which are incapable of supporting sustainable populations of pheasants over the long-term. The "pheasant states", as many of you know, have tremendous amounts of large blocks of habitat. Here in Colorado and western Kansas pheasant numbers wax and wain due to the impacts of seasonal weather...we can have a great hatch in the spring and lose almost all of the production in localized areas due to hail storms (which we get a LOT of!) or drought. The last three years we have had very few birds on tremendous amounts of acreage suitable for pheasants...but they will come back to relative abundance given advantageous weather conditions. And I will be out there hunting them until the season ends of January 31st.

This is a large part of the basic argument against "stocking" pheasants. The average life span of the ring-necked pheasant is 9-11 months, whether they are hunted or not. This DOES NOT mean that some birds don't live to 2 or even, in some cases, 3 years - they do. But AVERAGE, in the WILD, is 9-11 months. So the sustainability of a population relies upon "recruitment", which depends upon "fecundity" and ... "Habitat". So large areas of marginal habitat which might seem ideal to some are simply incapable of supporting a significant number of birds over time. Lots of corn is not year-round habitat; lots of smooth brome grass is not year-round habitat; fields of indiangrass and switchgrass surrounded by tree rows and wood lots (all predator perches) in not year-round habitat.

So when it comes to hunting, in December or otherwise, for r-selected wildlife species it is still a compensatory mortality factor. Hunting CAN BE an additive mortality factor when the islands are too small - if you have a rooster and three hens on your '40' in the Thumb and you shoot the rooster things don't look good for your "pheasant population". But the reality is that rooster's (and the hen's) odds of surviving to breeding season are not that great. The idea with pheasants is to survive to your first breeding season. If that happens generation after generation, you can have a sustainable population; if it doesn't, you can't.

And we just aren't that good at "hunting" for the most part. We can't smell, we can't see, were noisy and unstealthy, and we are only out the practicing it for a small percentage of the year!

Kismet
01-22-2015, 01:33 PM
Nice 2012 thread. GREAT last post by Marshrat.

:)

Tireguy
01-22-2015, 10:56 PM
Marshrat,
Sounds like you know your stuff, I have a question for you being that you are very educated with Michigan and it's wildlife. I have been noticing a lot of oaks being clear cut in northern lower,100 to 300 acre parcels. Are we not cutting a great food source for both are deer and other wildlife in trade for a short term aspen. Also would it not be better for wildlife if we cut small parcels 5-30 acres, creating more edges for wildlife as well as leaving a food source of acorns. Thanks for your input.

Crossing shot
01-23-2015, 04:57 AM
"The average lifespan of the ring-necked pheasant is 9 - 11 months."

What exactly does this mean? Is chick mortality included in this lifespan? I would imagine most deaths are chicks. After the bird has reached adulthood, would it's lifespan be considerably greater on average than 9 to 11 months, especially hens?

RK Special K
01-23-2015, 09:35 AM
From what I've gathered from biologists who should know, if an adult pheasant is lucky/smart enough to dodge lead, predators, vehicles, etc., less than 1% would reach their 3rd fall hunting season. Almost all pheasants die of "old age" before they reach their 3rd fall season. As we know, many make it to their 2nd fall season but the "old age", natural die-off gets almost all the rest between the 2nd and 3rd fall season.

marshrat
01-23-2015, 01:02 PM
The 9-11 month life expectancy comes from studies done in South Dakota and a few other "pheasant states" where birds were radio collared and followed in areas closed to hunting and areas open to hunting. General findings were that very few birds made it much past their first breeding season, and fewer still made it to their second breeding season.

Chick mortality is sort of in a different equation. When I mentioned the term "r-selected" I figured a few would look it up. Basically ecologists and population biologists categorize animals into two broad categories, r-selected species and k-selected species. The term refers to overall strategy a species uses to maintain itself. K-selected species are described as having high birth rates and low parental care (thus low energy expenditure) and short life expectancy to compensate for high death rates...they're food. Rabbits, mice, and many species of birds are examples of r-selected species, as are pheasants. Many more young are produced than are needed to sustain a viable breeding population.

K-selected species are the opposite; they have relatively low birth rates, high parental care, and long life expectancy. Humans, elephants, bears...are examples of k-selected species. The category a particular species or group of species is in has much to do with what regulations (bag limits, season length, etc.) are in place for hunting that species.

As far as the oak question, the answer depends upon who the landowner is and what the management goals are. Most of the oak stands in northern Michigan are the red oak type. Red oak has fairly high commercial value (lumber, firewood, etc.) and is a relatively fast-growing tree. It is also pretty shade intolerant, so clear cutting is a silvicultural technique for regenerating oak stands. Some sites are seed-tree cut and good regeneration can be experienced from that method as well. If there is aspen on the site, the aspen will outcompete the oak most likely and at least for 30-50 years, but eventually it will tend toward a mixed stand.

Red oaks do produce acorns, obviously. But they are very unreliable producers. Some individual trees will always produce a good crop and some will never produce a good crops, but a red oak stand, in general, produces acorns every 2-5 years. So relying on oaks as a reliable food source is not a winning strategy generally, and acorns really are considered "ice cream". Clear cutting a red oak stand with aspen in it, converting it to an aspen stand, will provide far more food value and cover more reliably than the oak stand will. Of course, identifying good acorn-producing trees and leaving 2-5 per acre would be a good thing to do. Another consideration would be to live-lop some of the oaks trees around the edge ; the stump sprouting provides really good thermal cover for a variety of wildlife species.

Cutting smaller blocks does create more edge and is a good thing to do when feasible. Sometimes cutting smaller blocks is economically challenging for commercial logging operations and larger cuts can be designed utilizing natural contours of the land, etc, to avoid straight edges which reduce habitat quality. The consideration is the deer population. In areas with high deer numbers for the existing habitat, the cuttings have to be large enough to overwhelm the browsing pressure that will occur. That has an impact on the quality/quantity of the regeneration. So, lots of things to consider....

RK Special K
01-23-2015, 01:38 PM
Also, bag limits DO NOT enhance(to any real significant degree) long-term numbers of upland game birds. Bag limits simply serve to fairly spread out CURRENT SEASON hunting opportunities and provide a longer hunting season.

Ya can't "stockpile" the birds.

Crossing shot
01-23-2015, 03:08 PM
Bird hunting has been terrible in Missouri for 15 years with the exception of one week.

In 2000, a large conservation area was closed for duck renovation. Did not open until after the 2003 duck season.

2003 was not a great year until duck season closed. I shot 50 quail in one week. Never saw so many hunters so I figured I should shoot the birds myself. Actually saw a flock of roosters (30 birds) land in some milo 100 yards in front of me. A friend shot a limit of roosters for over two weeks.

If hunting does not affect bird numbers, why was hunting so good here and poor in areas with similar cover?

Next year, this area was like the rest. Cannot believe hunting does not hurt in the era of little cover. Everything changes. Time to change bag limits.

RK Special K
01-23-2015, 06:31 PM
Nope, bag limits are ABSOLUTELY the wrong focus. The facts of pheasant biology just don't support it. Oregon biologists have done extensive studies on this - if you go to their web-site find a link: Game Birds - Harvest Studies.

It's time to change HABITAT not bag limits.

Trying to enhance #'s by using bag limits is like chasing your tail or a mirage in the desert.

I will venture to say that if Missouri closed the pheasant season for 10 years and the habitat stayed as bad as it is, there would be no more birds in the
10th year than there is today - and probably less because the poor habitat is producing ever smaller #'s each year.

The octane upon which bird numbers are built is HABITAT.

Crossing shot
01-23-2015, 08:40 PM
I don't think so. An area closed for three years had more pheasants than I have ever seen in MO. We never see flocks of roosters. Five thousands acres of prime habitat managed for pheasants did not have many pheasants that year.

Problem is fragmentation in Missouri. Even if you bought land and installed great habitat, where is the breeding stock going to come from? Missouri is not a big pheasant state so mainly talking quail. Not everyone is going to take it easy on coveys. It does not really matter. Last limit of quail I shot was in 2003. Sad. Cannot remember half a limit.

I do agree habitat is the most important factor.

FCSpringer
01-23-2015, 08:45 PM
First of all this thread was started in Michigan LOL. Has no bearing on other states. We in MN for example have been shooting birds through December since the beginning of time. So has the other states up here in pheasant country. It has changed nothing since the beginning of time. So biology smoligy. Take the study and toss it out the window on your way to a state that has birds.:thumbsup::D If you don't have them by now your not going to.;)

Crossing shot
01-23-2015, 09:26 PM
The study cited was from Oregon. And I agree it may not apply to other states.

My background is science and you are right about biology smoligy. Non-scientists view experimentation as gospel. It is not. Too many variables; easy to conclude the results you are looking for.

To counter my position you could say I am projecting one occurrence as the norm. If anyone knows of a large area with good habitat that has not been hunted for years, let me know and I will go and collect some data.

oldandnew
01-24-2015, 01:29 AM
First of all this thread was started in Michigan LOL. Has no bearing on other states. We in MN for example have been shooting birds through December since the beginning of time. So has the other states up here in pheasant country. It has changed nothing since the beginning of time. So biology smoligy. Take the study and toss it out the window on your way to a state that has birds.:thumbsup::D If you don't have them by now your not going to.;)
I suspect that research on quail, pheasant, and upland birds have a broad application to other states and areas. Admittedly, Missouri does not have a big pheasant range as other states so there maybe better opportunities there. But I think I could surprise you with the number of birds I can raise on private ground hunted only by me! Part of it is exposure to hunting, and tactics. The Missouri department of conservation made a study that concluded that quail are stressed later in the season, most "excess" birds are harvested without any affect in the early season. Late harvested birds, by logic?( I will trend lightly on that!), reduce the breeding population for the following spring, because of stress. as we know the spring, where food and cover are at their minimum, stress all upland birds. Missouri, as they will tell you, ad nauseum, stops the season on January 15, every year, to compensate. Now, at one point in my life, we harvested over 2,000,000 quail a year for a twenty year span, some of those were years where we harvested 4,000,000! I personally doubt if there are 4,000,000 alive in the state currently. With the quail focus areas, and some effort, with nice assist from low snow and ice, and warm dry springs, Missouri is on a roll. I have hunted recently in Kansas, also having better success, and Oklahoma, which was the last bastion of quail hunting before the drought. Oklahoma is recovered nicely, and has better habitat than Missouri and eastern Kansas currently. Both Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas hunt later than Missouri, and I have not seen populations being affected at all.

Back to habitat! and a good favorable dose of weather. I believe that hunting is affected by closures of an area. If nobody hunts there, the first few who do have a distinct advantage, like groundhog day, or opening day deja vu! works in South Dakota, Minnesota, or Missouri. Heck if we had a one weekend season, all days would be that way!

RK Special K
01-24-2015, 10:11 AM
As may be the case in MO, there are always minor exceptions to an over-riding GENERAL principle. Perhaps MO has a few pockets of birds that would benefit from protection from the gun.

But the over-riding principle is this: As habitat remains poor to marginal and/or declines, you will chase limits down until eventually the season will close in a futile attempt to restore long-term bird #'s.

Again, reducing bag limits is commendable if the goal is to share more fairly a declining bird population for the CURRENT SEASON with as many hunters as possible but it should not be a significant tool in restoring the "hey day" era or even close.

Just to be clear, I'm talking about pheasants. Lest we forget, pheasants are the only upland game that shields hens from the gun. Other birds are not so fortunate. Shooting hens is like shooting 5+ of next years birds.

RK Special K
01-24-2015, 12:10 PM
Here's another way to make my point:

If 100,000 WILD birds(75k hens - 25k roosters) were live-trapped in SD and immediately released into the 4 best counties in MO AND the season entirely closed for 5 years in those 4 counties, I would venture to say that at the end of the five years, there would be no more pheasants in those counties than there is today.

The #'s would simply revert to that amount that is possible by the habitat.

Crossing shot
01-24-2015, 01:02 PM
No matter where, you have a chance to hunt two parcels of identical habitat. It is opening day. One has not been hunted in ten years; one has been hunted every year. Which one are you going to hunt? This is the only hunt you can have on either of these places.

I understand the long term loss of habitat and carrying capacity. I agree with you. All I want to know is which area you would hunt.

oldandnew
01-24-2015, 04:01 PM
Here's another way to make my point:

If 100,000 WILD birds(75k hens - 25k roosters) were live-trapped in SD and immediately released into the 4 best counties in MO AND the season entirely closed for 5 years in those 4 counties, I would venture to say that at the end of the five years, there would be no more pheasants in those counties than there is today.

The #'s would simply revert to that amount that is possible by the habitat.

I think you and crossing shot are debating apples and oranges. Nobody disagrees that the capacity is determined by the habitat, and it will revert, unless management practices are changed. What we are discussing is the numbers which hunters bag vs. what is taken by ALL sources in a particular habitat. The refuge example is accurate. I would say because it has habitat, and was not hunted, with birds adapting to NOT being hunted. I assume that a lot of those birds were hunted before crossing into the refuge zone, making the population bigger than historically it was. Your theory is right, the end game is how many birds it will support, is the balance, the habitat will carry. Crossing shot is right that a refuge area, especially when other adjacent areas are hunted, will support higher yields when the refuge is opened. Crossing shot is wrong in my opinion, that closing the season in December will produce a higher ratio of breeding stock, in my opinion they get pruned by weather, predators, countless dangers inherit in the life of wild game birds. I believe he is right that a juggled or staggered season, with some closed and while others open, allowing a rest period, will result in hunters harvesting more of the population. Regardless of the dates, either early or late season. Again apples and oranges, how many are there, and where? vs. how many we harvest of the surplus? The Mo. conservation commission is not the cheerleaders for hunters, they are a cheerleaders for the game, as is abundance and escape cover! A lot of areas, have game, but they are hunter educated, with a vast acreage of escape cover, and wise enough to use it! so a possibility is that there may be more game present on an area....but devilishly hard to find!

Crossing shot
01-24-2015, 10:17 PM
I think you and crossing shot are debating apples and oranges. Nobody disagrees that the capacity is determined by the habitat, and it will revert, unless management practices are changed. What we are discussing is the numbers which hunters bag vs. what is taken by ALL sources in a particular habitat. The refuge example is accurate. I would say because it has habitat, and was not hunted, with birds adapting to NOT being hunted. I assume that a lot of those birds were hunted before crossing into the refuge zone, making the population bigger than historically it was. Your theory is right, the end game is how many birds it will support, is the balance, the habitat will carry. Crossing shot is right that a refuge area, especially when other adjacent areas are hunted, will support higher yields when the refuge is opened. Crossing shot is wrong in my opinion, that closing the season in December will produce a higher ratio of breeding stock, in my opinion they get pruned by weather, predators, countless dangers inherit in the life of wild game birds. I believe he is right that a juggled or staggered season, with some closed and while others open, allowing a rest period, will result in hunters harvesting more of the population. Regardless of the dates, either early or late season. Again apples and oranges, how many are there, and where? vs. how many we harvest of the surplus? The Mo. conservation commission is not the cheerleaders for hunters, they are a cheerleaders for the game, as is abundance and escape cover! A lot of areas, have game, but they are hunter educated, with a vast acreage of escape cover, and wise enough to use it! so a possibility is that there may be more game present on an area....but devilishly hard to find!

I do not think we should lower the limit until I am long and gone. I was saying the first time I saw a flock of 25 to 30 roosters was on an area that wasn't hunted for three years. I hunted that area for a few years before it was closed and it was good. Never saw a flock move on its on accord in Missouri.

I also believed the standard line that harvesting a large percentage of one gender of a species has no negative effect.

Now I'm not too sure. It is unnatural harvest and warrants close scrutiny.

marshrat
01-29-2015, 09:18 PM
I kinda like your last point...South Dakota did a study that suggested maybe we should be considering hens as part of the bag limit. The hens actually select the roosters they will "allow" to be bred by. Years ago biologists thought that roosters gather a "harem", so to speak, and then breed all the hens in the harem. With hens selecting roosters, it has also been found that if the hens don't find suitable roosters, they won't mate.

It's been said that you can remove up to 90% of the roosters in a given population without impacting the following years' production. I think that's the case in many areas, mostly because I think it's almost impossible to remove 90% of the roosters. I'm not saying that can't be and/or isn't done with SMALL relatively isolated island populations in marginal habitats. But in the pheasant belt I don't think it happens...every day that goes by during hunting season the ROI on hunting effort shrinks and it gets harder to kill each bird than it was earlier. I think there is a law of diminishing returns with a lot of hunted species.

Still, there has to be enough roosters around for the girls to "pick from" or, as I said, some just won't breed and that is wasted potential. Interesting stuff...

1pheas4
01-30-2015, 08:44 PM
I kinda like your last point...South Dakota did a study that suggested maybe we should be considering hens as part of the bag limit. The hens actually select the roosters they will "allow" to be bred by. Years ago biologists thought that roosters gather a "harem", so to speak, and then breed all the hens in the harem. With hens selecting roosters, it has also been found that if the hens don't find suitable roosters, they won't mate.
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Informative post Marshrat. Thank you.

There's a number of state sights here in IL where "Manchurian" cross roosters where being released. There didn't seem to be any sign (genetically) of the Manchurian roosters cross breeding with wild hens. I believe it's due to the point you made above.

I suggested trying just the opposite---release hens and see if they will breed with the existing wild roosters. Our current wild stock is tough, handsome, has a strong appearance and healthy shape to his wattle, large ear tuffs, and a tail where each tail feather is barbed. Sounds like a hen's dream right? lol

Nick

Preston1
01-31-2015, 01:02 PM
The study of wild pheasants all over the North American pheasant range is a work in progress, we are always learning new information.

This theory that suggest that hunters can safely harvest 90% of the wild roosters with no adverse effect on the overall wild population is only an educated guess or theory. That one rooster mating with 10 or more hens in the real wild, wild (predator infested thorn and briar world) has never been proven with radio telemetry.

The one wild rooster mating with ten or more hens is based on data from safe well feed and well protected pen raised pheasants.

That may be true in places with millions of wild pheasants like South Dakota, that you can harvest 90% of the healthy wild roosters with no adverse effect on the population.

But I know for sure that that is not true on the southern part of the pheasant range in places like the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandle and S. W. Kansas. I spent many spring morning watching pheasants in Texas and Kansas and I know for sure that that wild roosters do more than just mate. With all the predators we have those roosters in the spring stay on alert watching for danger as the hens graze and feed gathering nutrients for laying.

In good wild pheasant country you average 10 to 12 hens per square mile. How can one rooster fly around and mate with all those hens scattered over a mile without being picked off by a aerial or ground predator.

After a three year drought (in the southwest), and the reduced the wild pheasant population by 70% in some areas, it would not be wise to advise people to harvest 90% of the healthy wild roosters.

Crossing shot
01-31-2015, 04:33 PM
Hopefully, it will be a long time before drought comes back.

Next time it does happens, why not try closing a couple counties to pheasant hunting?

marshrat
02-02-2015, 10:46 PM
Because it doesn't work. What would be the goal of closing counties? If there aren't any birds due to drough-driven lack of habitat, nobody will kill any. Preston1, yes pheasant research is an ongoing endeavour since pheasants are a high-profile and highly-desirable game species. But not all studies have been done on well-fed penned birds...not by a long shot. Here is a link which summarizes a lot (not all of course) of the mortality studies done with pheasants:
www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/pheasant/manag.htm.

Consider the study done within adjacent counties (multiple counties) in Iowa and Minnesota comparing hunted and unhunted counties along with other variables. It just doesn't make a difference. The "90%" business, the removal of up to 90% of the roosters, almost never occurs in most habitats. Granted, it CAN occur in isolated cases, but "managing" pheasants on isolated islands of habitat is a waste of time. There aren't many pheasants on isolated islands of habitat because it is marginal habitat...for whatever reason.

I think hunters need to realize that they're just not that great (relatively) at hunting, and pheasants have to survive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's a lessor challenge for them to evade us and our part-time canine hunters with all the practice they get with real predators. When hunters hear about "90%" removal, the assumption is that is what happens so we need to "back off" somehow so we can "save some for seed" or whatever. Most states could harvest more pheasants than they do without any negative effect. The goal of wildlife managers is not to kill off wildlife; I'll continue to enjoy our resources as much as I can for as long as I am able.

Crossing shot
02-03-2015, 05:06 AM
Because it doesn't work. What would be the goal of closing counties? If there aren't any birds due to drough-driven lack of habitat, nobody will kill any. Preston1, yes pheasant research is an ongoing endeavour since pheasants are a high-profile and highly-desirable game species. But not all studies have been done on well-fed penned birds...not by a long shot. Here is a link which summarizes a lot (not all of course) of the mortality studies done with pheasants:
www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/pheasant/manag.htm.

Consider the study done within adjacent counties (multiple counties) in Iowa and Minnesota comparing hunted and unhunted counties along with other variables. It just doesn't make a difference. The "90%" business, the removal of up to 90% of the roosters, almost never occurs in most habitats. Granted, it CAN occur in isolated cases, but "managing" pheasants on isolated islands of habitat is a waste of time. There aren't many pheasants on isolated islands of habitat because it is marginal habitat...for whatever reason.

I think hunters need to realize that they're just not that great (relatively) at hunting, and pheasants have to survive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's a lessor challenge for them to evade us and our part-time canine hunters with all the practice they get with real predators. When hunters hear about "90%" removal, the assumption is that is what happens so we need to "back off" somehow so we can "save some for seed" or whatever. Most states could harvest more pheasants than they do without any negative effect. The goal of wildlife managers is not to kill off wildlife; I'll continue to enjoy our resources as much as I can for as long as I am able.

If you are not going to shoot any birds, then it wouldn't matter if the season was closed. If it doesn't matter, try it in one county and see if it makes a difference. Do they bounce back faster?

When I saw that flock of roosters in Missouri, my first thought was a pheasant double. They landed 100 yards away in a milo field. On the way there, flushed two huge coveys that I did not shoot at. Should have, the pheasants were not there. Shot many limits of quail and pheasants, but this day shot a limit of both for the only time in my long life.

This place is now the same as other places. It was good before the renovation because you had to walk a long way to get to the good places. Now there are roads and hunters everywhere.

RK Special K
02-03-2015, 10:27 PM
Refuge issue:

If birds are pushed, DURING THE CURRENT SEASON, into adjacent refuge property with poor habitat, there will be more birds there at the END OF THE CURRENT SEASON. But NOT after 5 years at THE BEGINNING OF THAT 5th SEASON.

If birds are pushed, DURING THE CURRENT SEASON(and subsequent seasons), into adjacent refuge property with decent habitat, there will be more there at the end of the current season AND many more at the beginning of the 5th season.

My point: If you push birds into bad habitat, you get nothing long-term. If you "push"(or transplant) them into good habitat, you get more and more birds IN THAT GOOD HABITAT, long-term.

Moral of story: Get birds into existing good habitat OR create NEW good habitat. But cutting limits in BAD habitat just doesn't work. You have to "push" or transplant the "last survivors" of BAD habitat into GOOD habitat.

The season for pheasants in Georgia has been closed for.....for.....for....EVER. Are there any pheasants in Georgia? Nope........reason is simple. No habitat. Transplant "millions" to Georgia? - there will be -0- in less than five years even with no open season. This is a bit extreme but you can't force pheasants to live where they WON'T. Just can't do it. Guns or no guns.

Pheasants need GRASS.........and LOTS of it. Oceans of it......from one horizon to the other, with a checkerboard of crops. Tall, thick grass - the turbo-charged octane booster of pheasant numbers. Oh, they like windbreaks too. Don't want those hens getting too stressed out(or passing away) before the nesting season.

RK Special K
02-03-2015, 10:52 PM
I will also add this axiom:

Where there are LOTS of birds, there is LOTS of hunting pressure.
Where there are VERY few birds, hunting pressure is extremely light.

We don't see huge caravans of out-of-state hunters filling up motels in Missouri all for a chance to get one of those last five Missouri roosters. I would suggest that the pressure in MO is already extremely light, just like it is here in Michigan. And Michigan might even have a few more birds than Missouri. Might be a toss-up.

Crossing shot
02-05-2015, 04:51 PM
From what I've gathered from biologists who should know, if an adult pheasant is lucky/smart enough to dodge lead, predators, vehicles, etc., less than 1% would reach their 3rd fall hunting season. Almost all pheasants die of "old age" before they reach their 3rd fall season. As we know, many make it to their 2nd fall season but the "old age", natural die-off gets almost all the rest between the 2nd and 3rd fall season.

How reliable are spur lengths in aging birds?

RK Special K
02-05-2015, 06:30 PM
More reliable:

Pick up a bird with your fingers by the bottom beak. Let it hang for a second or two. If that bottom beak bends, it is a spring bird. If it stays sturdy and does not bend even with a bit of bouncing, it is a 2-year old bird. And the chance that it is 3 years old is less than 1 in 100.

Unless it is obvious, I do this with almost every bird. Using this method, I find that about 15-25% of the birds are 2 years old. The overwhelming majority are spring birds. And almost all of these 2 year old birds die of "old age" before they reach their 3rd hunting season.

Strong bird numbers rely heavily(if not entirely) on the number of hens and their success at raising them to adulthood(late summer to early fall). This depends on habitat and weather. Habitat being THE most important factor in long-term sustainability of numbers.

Crossing shot
02-06-2015, 03:59 AM
That's interesting. I will try it next year.