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Old 11-03-2010, 10:40 PM
2weightfavorite 2weightfavorite is offline
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just out of curiosity I was wondering if any of you have ever seen a grouse in the Foothills WMA area in blount county? I've been hunting it for a couple years now, and have yet to flush a bird.. Am I wasting my time? Should I go over towards Chilhowie or Citico? I am quite determined to find somewhere to grouse hunt in east tenn. I dont expect the grouse hunhting we had in PA, but a few flushes here or there would be sweet!
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:53 PM
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Default grouse in east TN

Buddy am I ever right there with you! Annie, my five month old black Lab puppy, and I spent the better part of the day last Wednesday tramping around Royal Blue in the North Cumberland WMA in search of the elusive grouse and came up empty. We did flush a drake Wood duck. I have talked to several folks who declare that said bird has become scarce hereabouts but I and Ms. Annie are out to prove them wrong. If we can find the birds that is. Truly, I need to find some place in east TN where I can have a reasonably good expectation of finding them so that my enthusiasm as well as my dog's can remain high. I am not a person who wishes to have a daily limit on every outing, heck for that matter, I would be happy to have one in the bag at the end of the day. If you can help this poor old man and puppy out we sure would be indebted to you.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 2weightfavorite View Post
just out of curiosity I was wondering if any of you have ever seen a grouse in the Foothills WMA area in blount county?
I predator hunt there every winter and will see one every couple of years. Seems like the only place I ever see them is just inside the powerline cuts.

I was on the muzzleloader hunt in Citico this weekend and flushed one along Crowder Branch trail. Last year I was seeing some pretty regularly along the old Gold Cabin Branch Road. These places are in the bear reserve, so they have special regulations and times when you can have dogs in there, so check the hunting book.

Good luck
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by 2weightfavorite View Post
just out of curiosity I was wondering if any of you have ever seen a grouse in the Foothills WMA area in blount county? I've been hunting it for a couple years now, and have yet to flush a bird.. Am I wasting my time? Should I go over towards Chilhowie or Citico? I am quite determined to find somewhere to grouse hunt in east tenn. I dont expect the grouse hunhting we had in PA, but a few flushes here or there would be sweet!
Not really much help other to say I used to flush them all the time when hiking in the park say like 10-15 years ago. Now I might see 1 or 2 a year. Don't know if there numbers are down (part of natural cycle) or if there are other factors at play such as coyotes that are in much greater numbers now. Anyway that's my pennies worth.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:16 AM
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old east tenn boy, if you ever want someone to go with just give me a holler. I check this board daily, or you can e mail me, troutbum25@yahoo.com. My labs are too old to hunt now, but they were my partners in the woods for years. I tried royal blue last year and never saw any birds either.. I see birds all the time up around new found gap in the park, right along side of the road! Well, I am off to try my luck this morning, Ill post if I flush anything.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:26 AM
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Yep, let us know how you do. Good luck finding some, I've been the last 2 or 3 years since finding a Grouse. I think I'll stick with Quail this year, at least I don't have to drive so far from home to take a skunking!
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:32 AM
TNBigBore TNBigBore is offline
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A good bet would be to drive up the Cherohala Skyway to the highest point you can get in TN and walk the old logging roads and ridgetops. I had a friend in grad school at UT who did his Maters work on grouse and used to set traps for them in that area all the time. The traps consisted of a little section of 18" high chicken-wire fencing crossing a ridgetop. Either end of the fence lead to a rounded chamber with sticks over the top and the ends of the wire fence pointing inward. The grouse would encounter the fence while walking the ridgetop and simply walk down the fence and into the enclosure. They could not get out because the ends fo the wire were pointing inward, and they would not attempt to fly out through the sticks. It seems that grouse at not too bright after all. Anyway, there were good numbers of grouse in that area of the Cherokee National Forest in the 1990s and early 2000s at least.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:40 AM
ZachMatthews ZachMatthews is offline
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Something is happening to our southern grouse populations.

I flush a few a year while fishing in the mountains, but I have never yet seen one in Georgia. I mean to hunt them at some point this winter but the area where I typically see them gets its road access closed this time of year and it's too long to walk.

This survey by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is well worth the read:

http://www.ncwildlife.org/Wildlife_S...veySummary.pdf

To sum up, going back to 1980, the average age of a grouse hunter has steadily climbed, while the average length of a hunting day has remained steady at right around four hours. In the early 1980s, 4-5 flushed birds in an outing was normal. In 1990 the average hunter was flushing 6-7 birds per outing, which was the peak year. Today, the average hunter flushes only 2-3 birds, and it's been steadily declining for 20 years. There was a precipitous drop-off in 2007 when numbers went from 4 birds/outing to 2 birds/outing.

Here's the money quote: "The highest harvest rate/hunt occurred in the early 1990’s: on an average hunt, one grouse was bagged. Beginning in the late 1990’s, it took on average 2 hunts to bag one grouse. This past year [i.e. 2008], it took 3 hunts to bring home one grouse."

As I said, something is going on. I think this may come back to the federal ban on logging, which Byron has mentioned before. I know the areas I fish heavily on national forest land are definitely maturing. In just ten years I've seen certain trails close up and places that were fields become low scrubby forest.

Grouse are a transitional species; like quail they thrive where man has been active. The good news about our maturing wilderness is that deer, turkey, and bear all benefit. Turkey hunting is thriving these days. But our upland options are looking worse and worse. I'm going on a planted pheasant hunt in Arkansas a couple times this winter just to have the chance to actually fire the shotgun in anger.

Zach
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:54 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Zach--I have written a fair bit on grouse, hunted them a lot when I was younger, and retain a keen itnerest in them. Your usggestion that the cessation of logging, along with old farmsteads and other open areas growing up, lie at the heart of the issue. Grouse need those areas mixed with mature forest in order to thrive.
That being said, I still see them pretty regularly, especially when off trail, in the Park. It is a rare day indeed when either my brother or me walks to the place where our father grew up (it is well off trail) and don't flush grouse.
TNBigBore's advice is very sound, and that's because of the aforementioned habitat requirements. There are definitely grouse still to be found in the Cherokee and Nantahala NFs, but they are as plentiful as once was the case.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:02 PM
2weightfavorite 2weightfavorite is offline
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Well, I hunted for about 4 hours today over at the Foothills WMA. Walked up the mountain and over to the powerlines. The terrain looks great along those powerlines, head high pines, waist high scrub oak, mixed with thick grass and briars.. However, maybe what I think is ideal, isnt; because I did not flush a single bird. I walked through the thick briar patches, along the edges of the pines, and everywhere in between. I hunted on the steep slopes, and down in the wet bottoms, I really tried to cover it all. Perhaps I should abandon the powerlines and stick more to the woods I do however believe the hunting will be improving over there because they have relly started logging on that WMA hard. Lots of new roads cut, and lots of new clear cuts. So maybe in a years when those clearings grow up a bit it will produce more birds.
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