Friday, October 2, 2020

Focus Outdoors National Hunt MN Ruffed Grouse Hunting with RGS Video

Focus Outdoors National Hunt MN Ruffed Grouse Hunting with RGS Video

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Finding the Perfect Grouse Gun is a Lifelong Pursuit




















Grouse hunters are always chasing the next great shotgun

A low electronic hum created an ambient sound that complemented a smell that was a mix of what I could only guess was steel, gun oil, and concrete well aged in this fluorescent-lit room hidden in the back of a parking lot. The industrial metal door thumped shut like we were barricading ourselves from a zombie apocalypse. A Purdey over-under leaned against a dusty workbench to my immediate right, the surfaces filled with what seemed like a disastrous maze of tools, parts, and who knows what else, that with the slightest touch could send piles cascading to the ground like an avalanche just waiting for a tipping point. Stephen Hutton of Britannia Sporting Arms, AKA “Doc,” spoke with a thick English accent in slow, deliberate precision to Gregg Elliot, a gun writer, and double gun connoisseur.

Without delay, we soon huddled over one of Gregg’s original Fox A Grades, disassembled next to the newer Savage Fox A Grade. As I snapped pictures, Doc spoke. “Would you like me to take it down further?”

It was no shock what we would find. Despite their similar names, these guns are not the same. The modern version is a rendition of the Connecticut RBL made more in commemoration of the original A Grade in name and looks but not mechanics. Gregg took careful time to show me the inner tooled workings of the original shotgun. You could see the markings of chisels and faint memories of a fine American craftsman long gone.

On the surface, when a grouse hunter walks out of the woods, side-by-side in hand, grouse dog in tow, bell jingling around a modern GPS collar, it does not look much different than 100 years ago. Yet innovation is at every corner in the modern age. New technical fabrics, more durable and practical boots, even the advancement of electronics have infiltrated this timeless pursuit. It is an exciting time to be a hunter. Yet a paradox exists in the double guns we carry. The introduction of the Anson and Deeley action by Westley Richards in England, or more commonly referred to as the boxlock, was invented in 1875 and as Elliot wrote in the article The Insult That Conquered the World, “If you’ve ever fired a side-by-side or over-under, there’s a 99.9 percent chance your hands have touched one of Westley Richards’s patents.”

This was not the first time I found myself looking over Elliot’s shoulder learning the ins and outs of the double gun. We had traveled to Italy together the year before where we spent a few days touring the Beretta factory. This is where the paradox began to reveal itself to me. As we looked at a 3-D printer and a perfect digital rendition of the inside of an actual gun barrel right before our eyes, I realized there was no bounds to how precise a double gun could be.

Getting Started on Side-by-Sides - Read the full Outdoor Life article




Wisconsin DNR Asks for Help from Hunters for Final Year Ruffed Grouse Study


The Wisconsin DNR is in its third and final year of study looking at the impact of West Nile Virus on ruffed grouse.

The DNR is looking into how present the virus is in the species and the effect it could have on populations.

So far, results show the virus does not have a devastating impact on the ruffed grouse population in Wisconsin.

“About 20 to 30 percent of the grouse that we’ve sampled have antibodies to West Nile Virus which means that they’re contracted the disease but they’re building up antibodies and flushing it out of their system and actually surviving the disease,” said DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist Alaina Gerrits.

The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating the final year of the study.

Normally DNR staff would get together and assemble sample kits to hand out to hunters. They can’t do that this year because of COVID-19. But Gerrits estimates there are about 500 unused kits out there from previous years.

“We’re just asking hunters that if you have left over kits or if you know someone who does to please send it in. Nothing in the kit expires. We felt that this was our best option instead of delaying the study or canceling it was just to try get as many samples as we could this way,” said Gerrits.

Hunters are asked to collect a small amount of blood, a few feathers, and the heart from their harvested grouse.

It will likely be next winter or spring before the final results of the study are available.

You can learn more about ruffed grouse and the DNR's study on its website.

Read the full wxpr article


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Outdoor Bound TV Bowen Lodge Minnesota Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Video

This week on Outdoor Bound TV, we get ready to hit the woods at famous Bowen Lodge in Northern Minnesota for a little October grouse and woodcock hunting with a group of friends, who gather each year, from all over the U.S., to take part in this special weekend. Come on along, as it's all about good friends, good food and great hunting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Minnesota ruffed grouse preview: 'Average' season in the cards, DNR wildlife managers predict






















 Written By:  Brad Dokken

Trying to predict ruffed grouse hunting prospects is never an exact science, given the thick wooded cover in which the birds are found, but all of the signs this year point to an average season in Minnesota – or perhaps slightly better than average.

Minnesota’s season for ruffed grouse, spruce grouse and Hungarian partridge opens Saturday, Sept. 19. Sharptail season opens Sept. 19 in the Northwest Zone and Saturday, Oct. 10, in the East-central Zone.

Based on spring drumming count surveys, which were abbreviated this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, surveyors from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other cooperators tallied a statewide average of 1.6 drums per stop along their listening routes.

That’s on par with or better than the past five years with the exception of 2017, when the spring survey count was 2.1 drums per stop statewide, a number that didn’t translate into better hunting success that fall and left many DNR experts shaking their heads.

By the numbers

Biologists tally spring ruffed grouse abundance by following set routes and stopping to listen for the “drumming” sound male ruffs make as the birds rapidly beat their wings in an effort to attract a mate.

By region, this year’s survey tallied 1.7 drums per stop in the Northeast, which encompasses the core of Minnesota grouse range; 1.2 drums per stop in the Northwest, down from a statewide high last year of 2.1 drums per stop; and 1.2 drums per stop in the Central Hardwoods.

The Southeast survey region wasn’t sampled this year. The DNR didn’t conduct a sharptail survey this past spring because of the pandemic.

Read the full article for more reports and updates





Friday, September 11, 2020

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Minnesota 2020 Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring population counts are similar to last year and likely are following the 10-year cycle of rise and fall—a predictable pattern recorded for 71 years. Due to COVID-related restrictions, this past spring’s drumming counts in southeastern Minnesota were not conducted as planned.

As the DNR was able to resume more field operations in May, there was still time to conduct drumming counts in more northerly portions of the state, where grouse breeding occurs later.

While spring drumming counts that were conducted produced similar results as last year, only having counts from the northern region—which has more forest and holds more grouse—likely means the statewide index is higher than it would be if the southeastern region was included.

Some consider the ruffed grouse the “king of game birds” because it’s a challenge to pursue, a thrill to witness on the wing and a delicious wild game entrĂ©e when served. These birds are native to Minnesota—the top ruffed grouse-producing state in the coterminous United States, with millions of acres of public land for hunters and their dogs to explore.

Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. However, the number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.

The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.

If production of young birds is low during the summer months, hunters may see fewer birds than expected based on counts of drumming males in the spring. Conversely, when production of young is high, hunters may see more birds in the fall.

The 2020 survey results for ruffed grouse were 1.6 drums per stop. The averages during 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 were 1.1, 1.3, 2.1, 1.5 and 1.6 respectively. Counts vary from about 0.6 drums per stop during the years of cyclical low grouse abundance to about 2.0 during years of high abundance.

Drum counts were 1.7 drums per stop in the northeast survey region; counts were 1.2 drums per stop in the northwest; 1.2 drums per stop in the central hardwoods; and no routes were completed during the appropriate survey window in the southeast survey region.

Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting. Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions.

“In a typical year we have 16 cooperating organizations providing folks to help us count grouse drumming,” Roy said. “We are grateful to our federal and tribal partners, some of whom conducted extra routes to get surveys completed during the pandemic.”
Biologists were not able to collect sharp-tailed grouse survey data this year during the pandemic.

The Minnesota grouse hunting season opens on Saturday, Sept. 19. More information about ruffed grouse hunting and sampling, the grouse survey report and West Nile virus is available on the DNR grouse hunting page.

RESULTS & DISCUSSION Ruffed GrouseObservers from 11 cooperating organizations surveyed 102 routes (80% of all routes) between 21 April and 13 May 2020, with 84% of northern routes completed and 42% of southern routes completed. Most routes (89%) were surveyed between 21 April and 10 May, with a median survey date of May 6, which is similar to last year (May 4) and the median survey date for the most recent 10 years (May 3). Observers reported Excellent (61%), Good (37%), and Fair (2%) survey conditions for 95 routes reporting conditions.  

Statewide counts of ruffed grouse drums averaged 1.6 dps (95% confidence interval = 1.2–1.9dps) during 2020 (Figure 3). Drum counts were 1.7 (1.3–2.0) dps in the Northeast survey region (n = 92 routes), 1.2 (1.0–1.3) dps in the Northwest survey region (n = 5), 1.2 (0.4–2.2) dps in the Central Hardwoods survey region (n = 10), and no routes were completed during the appropriate survey window in the Southeast survey region (Figure 4a-d).  

Statewide drum counts were similar to last year. I received 5 surveys from 2019 after the report was written last year, and updated results are included here. The southern survey regions tend to have lower average counts than the northern regions each year, and because southern regions were not surveyed in 2020, the statewide index is likely higher than it would be if southern routes were included. In the Northeast and Northwest, counts were similar to or down from last year, respectively. In the Central Hardwoods, observers surveyed only the northern portion of the region where counts tend to be higher, which likely explains the slightly higher, although not statistically different, dps in this region in 2020 compared to 2019. The most recent peak in the 10-year cycle occurred in 2017. Although peaks in the cycle occur on average approximately every 10 years, they vary from 8 to 11 years apart (Figure 3). Recent survey data indicate that ruffed grouse are in the declining phase of the 10-year cycle in Minnesota.

 Read the original DNR Article