D E C banner
D E C banner

Disclaimer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

2008-09 Grouse Hunting Log Results

During the 2008-09 ruffed grouse hunting season, DEC conducted the fifth 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 both locally and on a landscape scale.

We thank all the hunters that participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log during the 2008-09 season.

Results from the 2008-09 Season

During the 2008-09 season, 327 hunters participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log. Grouse log participants reported data from over 3,200 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 9,000 hours afield and flushed almost 10,200 grouse (about 1.2 flushes/hour). Some general findings from the 2008-09 season include:

  • Hunters participating in the survey averaged about 28 hours afield during the 2008-09 season. They took about 10 trips afield for the season and spent about 3 hours afield per trip.
  • Grouse log participants averaged about 31 grouse flushed per hunter for the 2008-09 season and had to spend about 53 minutes hunting in order to flush one grouse. In addition, hunters averaged almost 3 birds harvested for the season and had to invest about 10.5 hours of hunting effort to harvest one grouse. On average, one out of every 12 grouse flushes resulted in a kill.
  • About 65% of the effort expended by hunters occurred during the first half of the season (September - November; Table 1). In addition, about 72% of the grouse flushed and 70% of the grouse harvested occurred during this early part of the season. In general, the flushing rate was higher during the first half of the season, but varied by month with peaks in September (1.77 flushes/hour) and December (1.34 flushes/hour; Table 5).
  • Effort expended and the number of ruffed grouse seen were similar on public and private lands (Table 2). During the previous 3 seasons the flushing rate was higher on private land than on public land; however, over the past two seasons the flushing rate has been similar on private and public lands (1.17 vs. 1.18 grouse flushed/hour, respectively).
  • Overall, there was far more effort expended in the southern grouse season zone (over 70% of the total), but the flushing rate was higher in the northern season zone (1.38 vs. 1.09 grouse flushed/hour; Table 3).
  • Hunting effort was well distributed across major geographic regions of New York State. About 40% of the hunting effort took place in western New York (33% Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, 5% Lake Plains Ecozone), about 30% in northern New York (15% Adirondacks-Tug Hill Ecozone, 10% St. Lawrence Valley Ecozone, 4% Champlain Valley Ecozone), and about 30% in the southeastern part of the state (21% Catskills-Delaware Hills, 13% Mohawk Valley-Hudson-Valley-Taconic Highlands). The highest number of grouse were flushed and harvested in the Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, followed by the Catskill-Delaware Hills, Adirondacks-Tug Hill, and St. Lawrence Valley ecozones (Table 4; see Figure 1 for regions referred to here).
  • The flush rate was highest in the Adirondacks-Tug Hill ecozone (1.51 grouse flushed/hour), followed by the Catskills-Delaware Hills (1.40 grouse flushed/hour), and St. Lawrence Valley (1.37 grouse flushed/hour) ecozones (Table 4, Figure 1). Flush rates in the Appalachian Hills and Plateau, Champlain Valley, Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands, and Lake Plains ecozones were below the annual statewide average of 1.2 grouse flushed/hour (Table 4, Figure 1).
  • 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 (1.17 grouse flushed/hour) than hunters that did not use a dog (0.92 grouse flushed/hour).

Comparing the 2008-09 Season to Previous Seasons

  • Overall, hunters spent fewer hours afield during 2008-09 than the previous year (9,041 vs. 9,404 hours), and they flushed and harvested fewer grouse (10,197 vs. 10,263 flushes and 856 vs. 922 birds harvested, respectively). The flush rate in 2008-09 was similar to the previous season (1.2 vs. 1.1 flushes/hr) and the amount of time spent afield to harvest a grouse increased slightly to 10.5 hours (Table 6). During 2008-09 hunters had a lower average number of grouse flushed per hunter for the season (31 vs. 35 flushes/hunter/season) than during 2007-08 (Table 6).
  • Summary statistics for effort (trips/hunter, hours/trip, hours/hunter), grouse abundance (flushes and kills/hunter, flushes and kills/hour), and hunter success (kills/flush) during the 2008-09 season were similar to the five-year average for these indices (Table 6).
  • Flush rates increased in four of seven ecozones from 2007-08 to 2008-09, with the greatest increases observed in the Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands, Catskills-Delaware Hills, and Champlain Valley ecozones (28%, 24%, and 16%, respectively; Figure 1). Similar to previous years, 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 decline in flush rate was observed in the Appalachian Hills and Plateau Ecozone (-12%; Figure 1). The annual change in flush rates in the Adirondacks-Tug Hill and St. Lawrence Valley ecozones were small (2% - -7%; Figure 1). Annual variation in grouse abundance is likely a result of variation in weather, including spring temperature and rainfall and winter snow conditions, and food availability during the summer and fall (e.g., soft and hard mast). Ecozones with flush rates that are consistently below the statewide average likely suffer from poor habitat quantity and quality. In areas with a lack of the early successional habitats on which this species depends, grouse, their nests, and young are more vulnerable to predation and other limiting factors.
  • After five seasons, we can begin to assemble a picture of grouse distribution and abundance in New York State, and use this information to help target habitat management efforts to improve conditions for early successional species (Figure 2). Improving or restoring habitat in or close to regions with high quality habitat has a better chance at being successful than habitat management in regions devoid of high quality grouse habitat. In fact, conducting habitat improvement in regions with a lack of good habitat can have detrimental impacts on grouse populations by creating habitat "sinks" (islands of good habitat in a sea of poor habitat) that are insufficient for reproduction and survival.
  • Flush rates in ecozones for 2008-09 follow the same general pattern as the five-year pooled data (Figure 2) where we observe a grouse "focus area" ranging from portions of the St. Lawrence Valley and western Adirondacks south through the Mohawk Valley, East Appalachian Plateau, and Catskill Mountains.
Table 1. 2008-09 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 Flush Rate +/- SEa,b
(flushes/hour)
September 142 4.4 358 4.4 682 6.7 51 6.0 1.77 +/- 0.16
October 1,375 42.3 4,039 42.3 4,676 45.9 371 43.3 1.16 +/- 0.03
November 585 18.0 1,655 18.0 2,012 19.7 175 20.4 1.27 +/- 0.06
December 305 9.4 773 9.4 924 9.1 104 12.1 1.34 +/- 0.10
January 387 11.9 1,001 11.9 883 8.7 69 8.1 0.99 +/- 0.07
February 458 14.1 1,215 14.1 1,020 10.0 86 10.0 0.92 +/- 0.06

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flush rates are calculated as an average flush 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. 2008-09 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by land type (public vs. private).
Public Land Private Land
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,472 46.8 1,671 53.2
Number of Hours 4,392 50.3 4,339 49.7
# Grouse Flushed 5,303 53.6 4,586 46.4
# Grouse Harvested 409 50.4 402 49.6
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.18 +/- 0.03 1.17 +/- 0.04

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flush rates are calculated as an average flush 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. 2008-09 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by DEC grouse season zone (northern vs. southern).
Northern Zone Southern Zone
# % # %
Number of Trips 854 26.3 2,398 73.7
Number of Hours 2,517 27.8 6,524 72.2
# Grouse Flushed 3,658 35.9 6,539 64.1
# Grouse Harvested 323 37.7 533 62.3
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.38 +/- 0.04 1.09 +/- 0.03

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flush rates are calculated as an average flush 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. 2008-09 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 Flush Rate +/- SEa,b
(flushes/hour)
Adirondacks - Tug Hill 406 12.5 1,323 14.6 2,113 20.7 172 20.1 1.51 +/- 0.08
Appalachian Hills & Plateau 1,148 35.3 3,020 33.4 2,810 27.6 230 26.9 1.05 +/- 0.04
Catskills - Delaware Hills 643 19.8 1,884 20.8 2,525 24.8 213 24.9 1.40 +/- 0.05
Champlain Valley 128 4.0 317 3.5 324 3.2 25 2.9 1.03 +/- 0.09
Lake Plains 205 6.3 491 5.4 355 3.5 27 3.2 0.80 +/- 0.08
Mohawk Valley - Hudson Valley - Taconic Highlands 415 12.8 1,151 12.7 868 8.5 67 7.8 0.86 +/- 0.07
St. Lawrence Valley 307 9.4 855 9.5 1,202 11.8 122 14.3 1.37 +/- 0.08

a SE = Standard Error
b Overall flush rates are calculated as an average flush 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. 2008-09 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by hunting method (with dog vs. without).
Hunted with Dog Hunted without Dog
# % # %
Number of Trips 2,054 65.7 1,070 34.3
Number of Hours 5,601 64.5 3,078 35.5
# Grouse Flushed 7,380 74.4 2,542 25.6
# Grouse Harvested 575 71.0 235 29.0
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.17 +/- 0.03 0.92 +/- 0.03

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

Table 6. Summary statistics for the 2004-05 through 2008-09 grouse hunting seasons from the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log.
Summary Statistics 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 5-Year Average
Trips/Hunter 10.7 11.1 11.2 11.2 9.9 10.8
Hours/Trip 2.9 2.8 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.8
Hours/Hunter

31.4

30.5 32.0 31.7 27.6 30.6
Grouse Flushed/Hunter/Season 25.5 31.0 38.6 34.6 31.2 32.2
Grouse Harvested/Hunter/Season 2.3 2.8 3.3 3.1 2.6 2.8
Hours/Grouse Flusheda 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.9 0.9 1.0
Hours/Grouse Harvesteda 13.7 11.0 9.8 10.2 10.6 11.0
Grouse Harvested/Flushb 0.090 0.090 0.085 0.090 0.084 0.088
Flush Rate (grouse flushed/hour)c 0.9 1.0 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.1

a Number of hours afield to flush or harvest one grouse.
b Number of grouse killed for every bird flushed. For ex., during 2008-09, 1 out of every 12 grouse flushed was killed (about 8.4%).
c Overall flush rates are calculated as an average flush rate for all hunting days, not a simple division of the total number of grouse flushed by the total number of hours hunted.

Grouse Flush Rates by Ecozone, 2004-05 to 2008-09
Figure 1. Flush rate (grouse flushed/hour) by ecozone based on Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data for the 2004-05 through 2008-09 seasons. Ecozones are an aggregation of Wildlife Management Units. Abbreviations: Champlain Valley (CHVA), Adirondacks-Tug Hill (ADKS-TH), Catskills-Delaware Hills (CATS-DH), St. Lawrence Valley (SLV), Appalachian Hills & Plateau (APPH&PLT), Lake Plains (LKPL), Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands (MV-HV-TH). The Costal Lowlands Ecozone (New York City and Long Island) does not have a ruffed grouse hunting season.

Five-year Grouse Flush Rates by WMU, 2004-05 to 2008-09
Figure 2. Flush rate (grouse flushed/hour) by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) from the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log, 2004-05 - 2008-09. Only ecozones with >50 observations/records or >100 hours were included in the analysis. The statewide flush rate for the five-year period was 1.1 grouse flushed/hour. WMUs in white north of New York City (WMU 2A) had too few observations for analysis. WMUs comprising the Coastal Lowlands Ecozone (WMUs 2A, 1A, and 1C) do not have a grouse hunting season.