NY.gov Portal State Agency Listing Search all of NY.gov
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.

2009-10 Grouse Hunting Log Results

During the 2009-10 ruffed grouse hunting season, DEC conducted the sixth 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 2009-10 season.

Results from the 2009-10 Season

During the 2009-10 season, 284 hunters participated in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log. Grouse log participants reported data from over 3,000 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 8,200 hours afield and flushed over 10,400 grouse (about 1.2 flushes/hour). Some general findings from the 2009-10 season include:

  • Hunters participating in the survey averaged about 29 hours afield during the 2009-10 season. They took about 11 trips afield for the season and spent about 3 hours afield per trip.
  • Grouse log participants averaged about 37 grouse flushed per hunter for the 2009-10 season and had to spend about 48 minutes hunting in order to flush one grouse. In addition, hunters averaged almost 3 birds harvested for the season and had to invest about 9 hours of hunting effort to harvest one grouse. On average, one out of every 11 grouse flushes resulted in a kill.
  • About 70% of the effort expended by hunters occurred during the first half of the season (September - November; Table 1). In addition, about 80% of the grouse flushed and 79% of the grouse harvested occurred during this early part of the season. The flush rate was higher during the first half of the season (1.4 vs. 1.0), but varied by month with a peak in November (1.5 flushes/hour).
  • The effort expended by hunters was similar on public and private lands (Table 2), but hunters saw and killed more grouse on public lands. Over the past three seasons the flush rate has been similar on public and private lands.
  • 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 (1.5 vs. 1.2 grouse flushed/hour; Table 3).
  • Hunting effort was well distributed across major geographic regions of New York State. About 45% of the hunting effort took place in western New York (39% Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, 6% Lake Plains Ecozone), about 30% in northern New York (15% Adirondacks-Tug Hill Ecozone, 9% St. Lawrence Valley Ecozone, 5% Champlain Valley Ecozone), and about 25% in the southeastern part of the state (14% Catskills-Delaware Hills, 12% Mohawk Valley-Hudson-Valley-Taconic Highlands). The highest number of grouse were flushed and harvested in the Appalachian Hills & Plateau Ecozone, followed by the Adirondacks-Tug Hill, Catskill-Delaware Hills, and St. Lawrence Valley ecozones (Table 4; see Figure 1 for regions referred to here).
  • The flush rate was highest in the Catskills-Delaware Hills and Adirondacks-Tug Hill ecozones (1.6 grouse flushed/hour), followed by the St. Lawrence Valley (1.5 grouse flushed/hour), and Appalachian Hills & Plateau (1.2 grouse flushed/hour) ecozones (Table 4, Figure 1). Flush rates in the 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 flush rate (1.5 grouse flushed/hour) than hunters that did not use a dog (0.8 grouse flushed/hour).

Comparing the 2009-10 Season to Previous Seasons

  • Over the past six seasons, 876 hunters have participated in this survey. They took over 18,000 trips afield, spent over 51,000 hours pursuing grouse, flushed almost 56,000 birds, and harvested about 4,900 grouse.
  • Overall, hunters spent fewer hours afield during 2009-10 than the previous year (8,245 vs. 9,041 hours), but they flushed and harvested more grouse (10,422 vs. 10,197 flushes and 917 vs. 856 birds harvested, respectively). The flush rate in 2009-10 was similar to the previous season (1.24 vs. 1.17 grouse flushed/hour) and the amount of time spent afield to harvest a grouse decreased from 10.5 hours to about 9 hours. (Table 6). During 2009-10 there were more grouse flushed and harvested per hunter for the season (37 vs. 31 flushes/hunter/season; 3.2 vs. 2.6 kills/hunter/season) than during 2008-09 (Table 6).
  • Summary statistics for effort (trips/hunter, hours/trip, hours/hunter) during the 2009-10 season were similar to the five-year average for these indices (Table 6), but indices for grouse abundance (flushes and kills/hunter, flushes and kills/hour) were all better than the five year average.
  • Flush rates increased in six of seven ecozones from 2008-09 to 2009-10, with the greatest increases observed in the Lake Plains, Catskills-Delaware Hills, and Appalachian Hills & Plateau ecozones (24%, 14%, and 11%, respectively; Figure 1). The flush rate in the Mohawk Valley-Hudson Valley-Taconic Highlands ecozone declined 21% from the previous year (Figure 1). The Adirondacks-Tug Hill ecozone is the only region where we have observed a continually increasing flush rate over the past six years, but annual changes may not be statistically significant (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.
  • When we pooled six years of grouse log data we observed 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 (Figure 2). WMU 7P (in white, center of the map) was newly created in 2009-10 by extracting it from the larger WMU 7M. There were too few observations to calculate an official flush rate for this WMU for the season, but the rate based on the few observations we have for 7P was slightly below the statewide average.
  • After six 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.
Table 1. 2009-10 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 106 3 257 3 376 4 39 4 1.23 +/- 0.15
October 1,254 41 3,514 43 4,670 45 376 41 1.30 +/- 0.04
November 723 24 2,074 25 3,123 30 296 32 1.49 +/- 0.06
December 310 10 768 9 799 8 55 6 1.08 +/- 0.07
January 375 12 936 11 837 8 84 9 0.95 +/- 0.06
February 272 9 696 8 617 6 67 7 0.92 +/- 0.07

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. 2009-10 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by land type (public vs. private).
Public Land Private Land
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,468 48 1,533 50
Number of Hours 4,365 53 3,774 46
# Grouse Flushed 5,838 56 4,426 43
# Grouse Harvested 522 57 385 42
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.27 +/- 0.04 1.21 +/- 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. 2009-10 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by DEC grouse season zone (northern vs. southern).
Northern Zone Southern Zone
# % # %
Number of Trips 870 29 2,170 71
Number of Hours 2,403 29 5,842 71
# Grouse Flushed 3,869 37 6,553 63
# Grouse Harvested 374 41 543 59
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.47 +/- 0.05 1.15 +/- 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. 2009-10 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by ecozone.
Ecozone c # 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 447 15 1,307 16 2,308 22 215 24 1.59 +/- 0.08
Appalachian Hills & Plateau 1,198 39 3,149 38 3,442 33 301 33 1.17 +/- 0.04
Catskills - Delaware Hills 427 14 1,331 16 2,096 20 160 17 1.60 +/- 0.07
Champlain Valley 145 5 322 4 338 3 42 5 1.12 +/- 0.11
Lake Plains 194 6 452 6 451 4 29 3 0.99 +/- 0.08
Mohawk Valley - Hudson Valley - Taconic Highlands 368 12 945 12 618 6 57 6 0.68 +/- 0.06
St. Lawrence Valley 261 9 739 9 1,169 11 113 12 1.45 +/- 0.09

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. 2009-10 Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data by hunting method (with dog vs. without).
Hunted with Dog Hunted without Dog
# % # %
Number of Trips 1,830 60 1,173 39
Number of Hours 4,907 60 3,249 39
# Grouse Flushed 7,564 73 2,698 26
# Grouse Harvested 656 72 246 27
Flush Rate +/- SEa,b (flushes/hour) 1.50 +/- 0.04 0.84 +/- 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 2009-10 grouse hunting seasons from the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log.

Summary Statistics 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 5-Year Average
(2004-05 - 2008-09)
Trips/Hunter 10.7 11.1 11.2 11.2 9.9 10.7 10.8
Hours/Trip 2.9 2.8 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.8
Hours/Hunter

31.4

30.5 32.0 31.7 27.6 29.0 30.6
Grouse Flushed/Hunter/Season 25.5 31.0 38.6 34.6 31.2 36.7 32.2
Grouse Harvested/Hunter/Season 2.3 2.8 3.3 3.1 2.6 3.2 2.8
Hours/Grouse Flusheda 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.0
Hours/Grouse Harvesteda 13.7 11.0 9.8 10.2 10.6 9.0 11.0
Grouse Harvested/Flushb 0.090 0.090 0.085 0.090 0.084 0.088 0.088
Flush Rate (grouse flushed/hour)c 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.1 1.2 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 2009-10, 1 out of every 11 grouse flushed was killed (about 8.8%).
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 through 2009-10

Figure 1. Flush rate (grouse flushed/hour) by ecozone based on Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log data for the 2004-05 through 2009-10 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.

Grouse Flush Rates by Wildlife Management Unit, 2004-05 through 2009-10

Figure 2. Flush rate (grouse flushed/hour) by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) from the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log, 2004-05 - 2009-10. Only ecozones with >50 observations/records or >100 hours were included in the analysis. The statewide flush rate for the six-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.