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2006-07 Grouse Hunting Log Results

During the 2006-07 hunting season, DEC conducted the third annual 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 should 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 locally and on a landscape scale.

We extend a sincere thank you to all the hunters that participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log during the 2006-07 season. With only three years of data it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions about grouse distribution and abundance; however, the first three seasons were important steps in monitoring grouse populations. Over time, the efforts of participating hunters will help wildlife managers answer questions about the status and conservation of ruffed grouse in New York State.

Results from the 2006-07 Season

During the 2006-07 season, 298 hunters (266 hunted) participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log. Grouse log participants reported data from over 2,900 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 8,500 hours afield and flushed over 10,000 grouse (about 1.2 flushes/hour). Some general findings from the 2006-07 season include:

  • Hunters participating in the survey averaged about 32 hours afield during the 2006-07 season. They took about 11 trips afield for the season and spent about 3 hours afield per trip.
  • Grouse log participants averaged about 39 grouse flushed per hunter for the 2006-07 season and had to spend about 50 minutes hunting in order to flush one grouse. In addition, hunters averaged over 3 birds harvested for the season and had to invest just under 10 hours of hunting effort to harvest one grouse. On average, one out of every 12 grouse flushed was harvested.
  • About 60% of the effort expended by hunters occurred during the first half of the season (September - November; Table 1). In addition, over 60% of the grouse flushed and harvested occurred during this early part of the season. The flushing rate decreased from September through November, with a brief increase in December, followed by a continued decline through February (Table 1).
  • Effort expended and the number of ruffed grouse seen were similar on public and private lands (Table 2), but flushing rate was slightly higher on private lands (1.32 vs. 1.15 grouse flushed/hour).
  • Overall, there was far more effort expended in the southern grouse season zone (about 76% of the total), but the flushing rate was much higher in the northern season zone (1.41 vs. 1.17 grouse flushed/hour; Table 3).
  • Over 40% of the hunting effort took place in western New York State (38% 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 4).
  • The flushing rate was highest in the St. Lawrence Valley Ecozone (1.50 grouse flushed/hour), followed by the Catskills-Delaware Hills Ecozone (1.47 grouse flushed/hour), and the Adirondacks-Tug Hill Ecozone (1.44 grouse flushed/hour; Table 4). Flushing rates in the Lake Plains and Appalachian Hills and Plateau ecozones were close to the statewide average (1.29 and 1.28 grouse flushed/hour, respectively). The flushing rate was lowest in the Champlain Valley and Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands ecozones (1.11 and 0.70 grouse flushed/hour, respectively).
  • Most hunters that participated in the survey used a dog to hunt grouse (Table 5). In general, hunters that used a dog flushed and harvested more grouse and had a higher flushing rate (1.39 grouse flushed/hour) than hunters that did not use a dog (0.83 grouse flushed/hour).

Comparing the 2005-06 and 2006-07 Seasons

  • Overall, hunters spent more hours afield during 2006-07 (8,515 vs. 7,939 hours), and they flushed and harvested more grouse (10,279 vs. 8,059 flushes and 870 vs. 725 birds harvested, respectively) and had a higher average number of grouse flushed per hunter for the season (38 vs. 31 flushes/hunter/season) than during 2005-06. The flush rate was slightly higher during the 2006-07 season (1.2 vs. 1.0 flushes/hr) and the amount of time spent afield to harvest a grouse decreased from 10.5 hours to just under 10 hours.
  • With the exception of a decline in the Champlain Valley Ecozone, flush rates were up across the State during the 2006-07 season. This is likely a result of increased production during the breeding season due to favorable weather conditions during the spring and early summer. Similar to last year, the number of grouse flushed per hour tended to be higher in northern New York (i.e., St. Lawrence Valley, Adirondacks-Tug Hill ecozones) than in the southern parts of the State (i.e., Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands Ecozones; Figure 1). The largest increase in the flushing rate from last year was observed in the Lake Plains Ecozone (0.71 to 1.29 grouse flushed/hour).
  • A substantial increase from last season in the flush rate was noted in the Lake Plains Ecozone, an area that typically has had one of the lowest flushing rates. Whether this is a function of a higher number of birds in this ecozone or just a result of the way this region was sampled needs further investigation.
  • The Champlain Valley is the only ecozone where the flushing rate has declined over the 3 years of the survey. In all other ecozones the flushing rate has been similar (e.g., Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands) or has increased over the three-year period (e.g., Catskills-Delaware Hills). The reasons for the decline in the flushing rate over the three year-period in the Champlain Valley are not known, but over such a short time frame it may be related to small sample sizes or environmental factors such as wet spring weather resulting in poor reproductive success.
Table 1. 2006-07 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 85 2.9 221 2.6 416 4.0 35 4.0 1.68 +/- 0.20
October 1,132 38.1 3,395 39.9 4,243 41.3 341 39.2 1.25 +/- 0.05
November 582 19.6 1,770 20.8 2,099 20.4 177 20.3 1.22 +/- 0.05
December 513 17.3 1,348 15.8 1,705 16.6 148 17.0 1.31 +/- 0.07
January 427 14.4 1,164 13.7 1,369 13.3 129 14.8 1.24 +/- 0.06
February 229 7.7 617 7.2 447 4.4 40 4.6 0.78 +/- 0.08

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. 2006-07 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by land. (public vs. private)
Public Land Private Land
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,434 50.2 1,422 49.8
Number of Hours 4,285 52.6 3,866 47.4
# Grouse Flushed 5,053 50.7 4,891 49.3
# Grouse Harvested 391 46.4 451 53.6
Flushing Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.15 +/- 0.03 1.32 +/- 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 3. 2006-07 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by DEC grouse season zone (northern vs. southern).
Northern Zone Southern Zone
# % # %
Number of Trips 699 23.6 2,269 76.4
Number of Hours 2,092 24.6 6,423 75.4
# Grouse Flushed 3,061 29.8 7,218 70.2
# Grouse Harvested 280 32.2 590 67.8
Flushing Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.41 +/- 0.05 1.17 +/- 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 4. 2006-07 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 316 10.8 963 11.5 1,431 14.1 130 15.2 1.44 +/- 0.08
Appalachian Hills & Plateau 1,160 39.6 3,187 38.0 3,813 37.6 315 36.8 1.28 +/- 0.05
Catskills - Delaware Hills 387 13.2 1,264 15.1 1,836 18.1 155 18.1 1.47 +/- 0.07
Champlain Valley 104 3.6 314 3.7 369 3.6 39 4.5 1.11 +/- 0.09
Lake Plains 156 5.3 337 4.0 418 4.1 28 3.3 1.29 +/- 0.10
Mohawk Valley - Hudson Valley - Taconic Highlands 536 18.3 1,530 18.2 1,042 10.3 82 9.6 0.70 +/- 0.05
St. Lawrence Valley 267 9.1 792 9.4 1,231 12.1 107 12.5 1.50 +/- 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.
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.

Table 5. 2006-07 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by hunting method (with dog vs. without).
Hunted with Dog Hunted without Dog
# % # %
Number of Trips 2,027 70.2 862 29.8
Number of Hours 5,627 68.0 2,648 32.0
# Grouse Flushed 7,773 78.1 2,179 21.9
# Grouse Harvested 628 74.1 220 25.9
Flushing Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.39 +/- 0.04 0.83 +/- 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.