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2004-05 Grouse Hunting Log Results

Introduction

During the 2004-05 ruffed grouse hunting season, DEC launched the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log. This survey asks hunters to record their daily grouse hunting activities including information such as the number of grouse flushed, the number of hours hunted, the number of grouse killed, and if a dog was used to hunt grouse. The primary purpose of the log is to monitor the number of birds flushed per hour. Changes in the flushing rate illustrate trends in the grouse population when viewed over a long period of time and will provide insight into statewide distributions for this popular game species as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.

We want to extend a sincere thank you to all the hunters that participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log during the 2004-05 season. With only one year of data it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions about grouse distribution and abundance; however, the inaugural season was an important first step in monitoring grouse populations. Over time, the efforts of participating hunters will help wildlife managers answer questions about the ecology and conservation of ruffed grouse. A 59 kB PDF version of the 2004-05 Report (PDF) is available here.

Results from the 2004-05 Season

During the inaugural season, 274 hunters participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log. Grouse log participants reported data from over 2,700 hunting trips across the state, from the lower Hudson Valley in the south, to the Adirondacks and St. Lawrence Valley in the north, and the Lake Plains and Allegheny Plateau in far western New York. They spent over 8,000 hours afield and flushed over 6,600 grouse (about 0.8 flushes/hour).

Some general findings from the 2004-05 season include:

  • Hunters participating in the survey averaged about 31 hours afield during the 2004-05 season. They took just under 11 trips afield for the season and spent about 3 hours afield per trip.
  • Grouse log participants averaged about 25 grouse flushed per hunter for the 2004-05 season and had to spend a little over an hour hunting in order to flush one grouse. In addition, hunters averaged about two birds harvested for the season and had to invest about 12.5 hours of hunting effort to harvest one grouse. On average, one out of every 11 grouse flushed was harvested.
  • The majority of hunters (about 70%) that participated in the survey used a dog to hunt grouse (Table 1). In general, hunters that used a dog flushed and harvested more grouse and had a higher flushing rate (0.95 grouse flushed/hour) than hunters that did not use a dog (0.70 grouse flushed/hour).
  • Just under 70% of the effort expended by hunters occurred during the first half of the season (September - November; Table 2). In addition, over 70% of the grouse flushed and harvested occurred during this early part of the season. In general, the flushing rate decreased as the season progressed (Table 2).
  • Effort expended and the number of ruffed grouse seen were similar on public and private lands (Table 3), but flushing rate was higher on private lands.
  • Overall, there was more effort expended in the southern grouse season zone, but the flushing rate was higher in the northern season zone (Table 4).
  • Almost half of the hunting effort took place in western New York State (43% Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, 4% Lake Plains Ecozone). The highest number of grouse were flushed and harvested in the Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, followed by Catskills-Delaware Hills Ecozone, and the Adirondacks-Tug Hill Ecozone (Table 5; see Figure 1 for regions referred to here).
  • The flushing rate was highest in the Champlain Valley Ecozone (1.35 grouse flushed/hour), followed by the Adirondacks-Tug Hill Ecozone (1.14 grouse flushed/hour), and the Catskills-Delaware Hills Ecozone (1.00 grouse flushed/hour; Table 5, Figure 1). The flushing rate was similar among the St. Lawrence Valley, Lake Plains, and Appalachian Hills and Plateau ecozones (about 0.8 grouse flushed/hour), and was lowest in the Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands Ecozone (0.61 grouse flushed/hour).
Table 1. 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by hunting method (with dog vs. without).
Hunted with Dog Hunted without Dog
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,952 70.4 822 29.6
Number of Hours 5,478 67.4 2,656 32.7
# Grouse Flushed 4,997 75.6 1,612 24.4
# Grouse Harvested 465 78.2 130 21.9
Flushing Rate ± SEa,b
(flushes/hour)
0.95 ± 0.03 0.70 ± 0.04

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flushing rates are calculated as an average flushing rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.

Table 2. 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by month.
Month # of Trips % of Total # of Hours % of Total # Grouse Flushed % of Total # Grouse Harvested % of Total Flushing Rate ±SEa,b (flushes/hour)
September 56 2.0 139 1.7 179 2.7 19 3.2 1.22 ± 0.16
October 1,221 43.9 3,618 44.4 3,156 47.7 253 42.4 0.92 ± 0.03
November 574 20.6 1,882 23.1 1,519 22.9 160 26.8 0.87 ± 0.04
December 300 10.8 812 10.0 637 9.6 57 9.6 0.87 ± 0.07
January 321 11.5 822 10.1 515 7.8 45 7.5 0.74 ± 0.06
February 311 11.2 882 10.8 616 9.3 63 10.6 0.80 ± 0.10

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flushing rates are calculated as an average flushing rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.

Table 3. 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by month.
Public Land Private Land
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,468 53.1 1,298 46.9
Number of Hours 4,467 55.0 3,649 45.0
# Grouse Flushed 3,477 52.8 3,115 47.3
# Grouse Harvested 286 48.2 308 51.9
Flushing Rate ± SEa,b
(flushes/hour)
0.79 ± 0.03 0.98 ± 0.04

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flushing rates are calculated as an average flushing rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.

Table 4. 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by DEC grouse season zone (northern vs. southern).
Northern Zone Southern Zone
# % # %
Number of Trips 599 21.5 2,184 78.5
Number of Hours 1,738 21.3 6,417 78.7
# Grouse Flushed 1,899 28.7 4,723 71.3
# Grouse Harvested 178 29.8 419 70.2
Flushing Rate ± SEa,b
(flushes/hour)
1.08 ± 0.05 0.82 ± 0.03

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flushing rates are calculated as an average flushing rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.

Table 5. 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by ecozone.
Ecozonec # of Trips % of Total # of Hours % of Total # Grouse Flushed % of Total # Grouse Harvested % of Total Flushing Rate ± SEa,b (flushes/hour)
Adirondacks - Tug Hill 261 9.6 863 10.9 986 15.4 89 15.5 1.14 ±0.08
Appalachian Hills & Plateau 1,148 42.4 3,385 42.6 2,471 38.6 217 37.9 0.83 ±0.04
Catskills - Delaware Hills 417 15.4 1,277 16.1 1,264 19.8 120 20.9 1.00 ±0.06
Champlain Valley 105 3.9 280 3.5 348 5.4 28 4.9 1.35 ±0.15
Lake Plains 149 5.5 344 4.3 271 4.2 13 2.3 0.81 ±0.10
Mohawk Valley - Hudson Valley - Taconic Highlands 486 18.0 1,442 18.1 726 11.3 69 12.0 0.61 ±0.05
St. Lawrence Valley 142 5.2 357 4.5 335 5.2 37 6.5 0.89 ±0.07

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flushing rates are calculated as an average flushing rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.
c Ecozones are an aggregation of Wildlife Management Units. The Costal Lowlands Ecozone (New York City and Long Island) does not have a ruffed grouse season, thus is not listed.

Map showing grouse flushing rates
Figure 1. Flushing rate (grouse flushed/hour) by ecozone based on 2004-05 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data.