Showing posts with label ME. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ME. Show all posts

New England 2017 Forecast for the upcoming Grouse and Woodcock bird hunting season

  • Outdoors Dave Sartwell
Upland bird hunters will be getting some good news — and bad news — about the fall 2017 bird populations throughout New England. This past winter the ruffed grouse fared well, while the migrating woodcock flew straight into the blizzards of March. Let’s start with the woodcock. It’s important to understand the biology of these long-beaked birds.
Woodcock are the first ground-nesting bird to migrate north from their wintering grounds in the southern United States. They often arrive in late February or early March, looking for earthworms, grubs and other little crawlers that exist just below the ground surface. Usually, the ground is just warming at that time of year. They find their food sources on those sunny side-hill slopes or spring seeps that lose the first snows of winter. In one of the many miracles of nature, if there isn’t enough food to provide the energy necessary to produce eggs, they’ll maintain their body weight and delay reproduction. Earlier this year, however, they flew into New England just as we were experiencing a hard cold, followed by a large dump of snow. These new arrivals could not find enough food to eat to stay alive, and many perished in the cold. We haven’t had those conditions since the spring of 2007, when several snow storms in late March and April covered the Northeast. The only good news is that woodcock do not fly north in flocks; they are individual birds that move at their own calling. Because of that, some would have arrived later in the spring and taken a different route to get here. It’s still to early to tell the full extent of the decline this year, but everyone agrees there were less singing males in the spring woods — and there will be less young birds available this fall. Ruffed grouse populations have fared much better. Biologists are reporting that we should see normal to above-normal amounts of birds in the woods, depending on location. This grouse is one of the most widely distributed birds in North America, with the ruffed grouse being one of the smaller of the 10 different species. It’s almost impossible to tell an adult male from an adult female without examining the internal organs. The male tail feathers are often longer than those of the female, but aren’t a reliable indicator. There are two predominant color phases: red and grey. The birds in our region are mostly grey. Ruffed grouse populations have been tied to the amount of farmland under production. They love the logged-over areas, where the berry bushes and other food sources pop up when the forest canopy has been removed. Grouse numbers this fall will be steady or a little higher than usual. Grouse have pretty good mechanisms for surviving our winters: they just bury in, create their own cave under the snow, and wait for the storms to blow over. They also eat a wide variety of foods, which makes them more adaptable to weather problems. For example, in the winter they eat dead flower buds or the dried catkins of birch and cherry trees. After they hatch, the chicks feed mainly off a variety of bugs that are high in protein, which allows them to grow rapidly.
The woodcock season will open in Massachusetts Oct. 4, with ruffed grouse season opening Oct. 14. Both will open simultaneously in New Hampshire (Oct. 1) and Maine (Oct. 2). Read the full GloucesterTimes article

Michigan - No hurry: Future prospects for grouse and woodcock hunting look good

Steve Griffin The weather was too hot, the pup too young, so I stayed home. I'll wait. A week ago, Friday, September 15, instead of crashing through thick brush in pursuit of ruffed grouse, I leafed through the annual grouse and woodcock report and forecast from the DNR's Wildlife Division. A few days later, I swapped emails with grouse-avid Al Stewart, the DNR's upland gamebird specialist. What I read in both cases made me glad for my pup's youth. Hunting for grouse is pretty good and likely to get better: the bird population continues to build toward a 10-year cycle's high point, due about 2020. And although woodcock fortunes have fallen across the decades, those who hunt them in good cover still flush them at about the same rates as in the past. This year? "Grouse hunting has been good," Stewart reported a few days into the season, with his contacts reporting a few more flushes than in recent early seasons.
But, "It has been wicked hot, so finding birds is being impacted by the weather. If a dog is panting through his mouth, he is not pulling that fine bird scent through his nose." Stewart said he'd been adapting by hunting early in the day, near creeks and other water sources. Stewart expects hunters to have similar woodcock flush rates this year as last year, in the season that opens today, and maybe even a few more. Read the rest of the MidlandDailyNews article

Maine Bird hunter returns with ruffed grouse

ALLAGASH, Maine - Bernard McMahon of the District of Columbia harvested these ruffed grouse on Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the forests around Allagash.

McMahon has traveled up to the St. John Valley each year since 2001 to go bird hunting with Registered Maine Guide Sean Lizotte of Allagash.

Ruffed grouse season throughout the state started on Oct. 1 and continues through Dec. 31.

Read more: St. John Valley Times - Bird hunter returns with ruffed grouse Includes full article and photo

State, UMaine biologists embark on ambitious ruffed grouse research project

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

At a semi-secret site deep in the woods, wildlife biologist Kelsey Sullivan spent Wednesday evening helping to gather data he expects will eventually provide the first clear picture of the life, death and breeding habits of one of state’s iconic game birds, the ruffed grouse.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has teamed up with the University of Maine on the study, thanks in part to a $190,000 federal grant and matching UMaine funding, in order to trap, tag and fit radio collars on grouse that will be released and followed for a year.

The study itself is scheduled to last three years, but more work may be pursued after that, according to the UMaine assistant professor who is leading the research.

“This is the first very large scale investigation of ruffed grouse populations in natural history in the state of Maine,” Erik Blomberg, UMaine assistant professor of wildlife ecology, said.

Blomberg, a scientist who was first introduced to grouse by his dad, an avid Wisconsin bird hunter, said there’s a pretty simple reason why grouse haven’t been the subject of more research in this state.
“In science, we tend to only study animals when they have problems, and [consequently,] ruffed grouse have not had much attention focused on them.”

That has changed dramatically over the past several months, as Blomberg, two graduate students and the DIF&W have teamed up.

Sullivan is the DIF&W’s game bird biologist. Among the first questions he’d like to answer: How are the birds living, reproducing and surviving?

To find the answers to those questions, Blomberg, Sullivan and field crew leader Brittany Currier needed some study birds. They’ve set up two sites as midcoast and northern study areas, and will actively trap birds at both until bird-hunting season opens in October.

The BDN isn’t sharing the exact locations of those sites at the request of researchers. Blomberg said it was important to keep those sites as secret as possible to prevent an unnatural increase in the number of hunters in those areas. Normal hunting pressure is fine, he said, but the research effort is designed to track what actually exists, rather than what might exist after a particular hunting area is publicized.

The Traveling Wingshooter 2014: Ruffed Grouse Forecast MN, MI, ME, WI, NY, PA

by Dave Smith

Ruffed grouse hunters in the Great Lakes region have learned over generations to pursue ruffs when they peak in their 9-to-11 year cycle, which last occurred between 2009 and 2011. Each year since has been marked by a predictable decline, but the results of this springˊs drumming surveys show an increase, statewide, in Minnesota and Michigan, and a slight increase in northern Wisconsin.

The M's

"This may indicate the beginning of an upswing in the grouse cycle, which has been in the declining phase since 2009," said Charlotte Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Roy reported a 34 percent increase in the annual drumming surveys statewide, driven by the birdˊs prime range in northern Minnesota.

Michiganˊs drumming surveys revealed an increase from 10 to 12 drums per route, according to Al Stewart, Upland Game Bird Specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Further, Stewart says that the heavy snow this winter and ideal moisture conditions this spring were perfect for over-winter survival and reproduction, thus he is cautiously optimistic for a slight increase in grouse numbers this fall.

Grouse populations in Maine have declined from the recent peak but are still near the long-term average, and this yearˊs hatch makes for a promising hunting season. "We had favorable weather for grouse nesting and hatch," said Kelsey Sullivan, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "Drumming surveys completed this spring revealed that areas with quality grouse habitat – such as much of northern Maine above Old Town – showed good activity, so I expect production will be relatively good."

Studying Population Dynamics of Ruffed Grouse - Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine

Blomberg Studying Population Dynamics of Ruffed Grouse

Erik Blomberg, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine, received a $181,518 grant from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for his proposal, “Understanding population dynamics of ruffed grouse.”

The three-year project aims to better understand how forest management practices and sport hunting influence Maine’s ruffed grouse populations. According to the proposal, the native bird benefits from many forms of forest harvest and is widely used as a game species by Maine residents and visitors.

Blomberg and his team will implement a large-scale field study to evaluate how components of ruffed grouse biology, such as seasonal and annual survival and nest success, respond to different types of forest composition and management. Researchers also will estimate harvest rates throughout the annual hunting season from October to December.

Collected information will close a large gap in the current understanding of ruffed grouse ecology in the region and will contribute to future management of Maine’s popular game bird, as well as contribute to the general understanding of wildlife ecology in forest ecosystems, according to the researchers.

The researchers say they will work closely with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to ensure results provide the greatest benefit to Maine wildlife management.

Hiring - Maine - M.S. Assistantship – Demographics of ruffed grouse in multiple use forest landscapes

University of Maine
Orono, ME, and regional field sites
United States
Last Date to Apply:
31 Aug 2014
Job Category: Graduate Assistantships
Salary: Stipend: $19,123 per year plus tuition and ½ Health Insurance Premium
Start Date: 09/01/2014

Description: I am seeking applicants for an M.S. position focused on evaluating the demographics of ruffed grouse in Maine. Our objectives for this project are to better characterize how forest management practices, forest habitat composition, and sport hunting influence variation in grouse survival and reproductive success. We will use a combination of mark-recapture, radio telemetry, and forest vegetation assessments to address these objectives. This project is a close collaboration with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), and the successful applicant will work closely with MDIFW biologists and 1 other M.S. student. Field work will occur at two field sites, and each student will be responsible for supervising field operations at one of these two sites. Data collection protocols will be similar among sites, and all project data will be shared and available for the purpose of developing and addressing distinct research questions in support of each student’s graduate thesis.

The start date for this position is no later than September 1, 2014, with an earlier start date possible. The student will be supported primarily through a funded research assistantship, but may be required to serve as a teaching assistant for 1 or 2 semesters. Successful applicants will be expected to apply to the Graduate School at the University of Maine, and the student will be a member of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine. More information on the graduate program in our department can be found online at

To apply please submit the following by email to Dr. Erik Blomberg ( Cover letter describing your qualifications for the position, CV/Resume including GRE scores and undergraduate GPA, and contact information for at least three professional references. A single merged document is preferred.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

Qualifications: Required Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree from a Wildlife Ecology, Biology, Natural Resource, or related program. A positive attitude and the ability to supervise a field crew in a remote setting is a must. The ability to tolerate less-than-pleasant field conditions, which include muggy buggy summers and cold snowy winters, is also mandatory. Must be physically fit and capable of hiking long distances in dense eastern forest habitat. Strong oral and written communication skills, experience with field work, and strong recommendations are required. Must possess a valid driver’s license. A strong academic record including undergraduate GPA (3.0 or better) and GRE scores (50% percentile or higher), plus relevant prior field experience, is desired.

Desired qualifications: Preference will be given to applicants with experience working in in forest communities and with knowledge of forest ecology. Prior experience with the following field skills are desirable: radio telemetry, avian capture and handling, vegetation sampling and identification of eastern forest plants, use of 4x4 vehicles, snowmobile or ATV operation, supervision of field crews. Any relevant experience with data analysis and/or scientific writing is also a plus.

Contact: Dr. Erik Blomberg,

Maine Road Trip: Rough It For Grouse

Article by Lawrence Pyne

To experience the best "pa'tridge" country left, just drive northeast.

Good ruffed grouse covers are getting harder and harder to find, which is why my brother and I make a point of annually heading up to northern Maine. Thanks to large-scale forest management, there is so much productive habitat here that the biggest challenge is simply deciding where to jump in.

Northern Maine encompasses more than 10 million acres of mostly working timberland—almost all of which is potential grouse cover. Much of the best is found in the 3.5-million-acre North Maine Woods (NMW), managed by a consortium of private landowners, which is open to the public for a modest fee. Because it is commercially logged, the NMW has hundreds of thousands of acres of young, regenerating forest that provides great habitat for grouse as well as woodcock. Its 5,000 or so miles of gravel and dirt logging roads weave through more cover than you can hunt in a lifetime. If that wasn't enough, scattered throughout the NMW are more than 300 campsites and a dozen sporting camps. It's an ideal destination for both D.I.Y. hunters and those looking for more luxurious accommodations and perhaps a guide.

Access to the NMW is via 15 checkpoints on primary entry roads. Although it's possible to hunt there on a day-trip basis from gateway towns like Greenville and Millinocket, the farther in you go, the less pressure you'll find—and the more birds you'll encounter. Getting 30 or more miles back in and camping is the best way to get the most out of a trip and save wear and tear on your vehicle.

Upland Bird Hunting in Maine - Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock - Video

Upland Bird Hunting in Maine from Pete A. Eising on Vimeo.

Upland Bird Hunting for Woodcocks & Grouse in Maine with a Small Munsterlander.
We went to several destination this year, Leen's Lodge, Bosebuck Camps and to Andover, ME.
Woodcock were not as good as last year but Grouse were plenty. In December we hit good Covers and flushed 17 birds on one day.