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I thought a fun June topic might be what you think the next ten years will look like for Bird Hunting in the state of Michigan? I realize this is somewhat like predicting the weather, but what the hell.

We have really three Major species to hunt, and two minor ones.

Ruffed Grouse: I believe we will see a cycle swing down pretty quick here, if history repeats itself, with that said, I believe our forestry department is doing a better job than ever before in cutting practices that benefit wildlife the last five years. I'm encouraged by the amount of cutting (still not enough, but more than in the past) on Federal Lands in the LP. Just maybe I believe the deep end might get shallower and the Diving board might get higher. I think in 10 years we will have more Ruffed Grouse than we do today.

Pheasants: I think it's pretty bleak, the pheasant recovery is never going to work unless we tap the NRTF and start putting together large blocks of 25-40K acre grass lands by expanding our State Game Areas down state. Then I think they need to go to a draw system for at least the first three weeks of the season on those lands in the fashion they manage waterfowl areas. The increase in food demand will revert more and more land to row crops in simple supply and demand economics.

Woodcock: Flat, I've been seriously bird hunting and living up north for 10 years now, and I have not seen a fluctuation in WC numbers, they seem very constant, I'm more worried about wintering habitat than I am nesting, brooding, spring, summer and fall covers.

Bobwhite Quail: Are there any true wild birds left? I have not moved a covey of wild MI quail in 5 years.

Sharptails: I don't have much education on this, maybe Dauber can comment. I hope they continue to grow the area to hunt, and I believe a draw and tag system would be nice to have.

Your thoughts?
 

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I look forward to the next ten years of grouse hunting because I believe it will be better then the last ten. Hopefully I have good dogs on the ground and good spots it should be fun the rest of the birds I don't chase so don't know hopefully the sharpies take off I would chase them
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Fritz, to be honest, I haven't studied the issue as closely as I should, but in large part, I agree with most of what you say.

I might add that I believe that in zone 3, grouse are headed for near extinction due to the lack of cutting in the SGA's.

I also heard something interesting about woodcock: the guys in KY said that they had pretty good nesting numbers down there while large areas of our state had very few according to most of the banders I know. I'm not a bander, but I too noticed that woodcock were down significantly this Spring in the areas that I train and trial in. Does it mean anything with regard to future numbers? Frankly, I have no idea--maybe it's just due to the bizarre Spring we've had.
 

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I predict that MY next decade of birdhunting, provided my health is good, will be very good. I will have more experience, more money, better trained dogs, discovered more covers and expanded my understanding of the birds.
Combining all of that should increase my birds killed numbers, even if population numbers decline.
Besides, I'd rather be optimistic about the future than pessimistic!

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I predict that MY next decade of birdhunting, provided my health is good, will be very good. I will have more experience, more money, better trained dogs, discovered more covers and expanded my understanding of the birds.
Combining all of that should increase my birds killed numbers, even if population numbers decline.
Besides, I'd rather be optimistic about the future than pessimistic!

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Spot on!
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I predict that MY next decade of birdhunting, provided my health is good, will be very good. I will have more experience, more money, better trained dogs, discovered more covers and expanded my understanding of the birds.
Combining all of that should increase my birds killed numbers, even if population numbers decline.
Besides, I'd rather be optimistic about the future than pessimistic!

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I like it!

I would hope that if what recurverx was mentioning with the farm bill in another thread that there would be the possibility of the large expansions of grasslands for pheasant numbers.
 

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You think they Wc, went further North?

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That was exactly my thought, but I spoke recently with a historically-successful UP bander who had a very abysmal Spring. That of course, doesn't specifically say where those UP birds went...
 

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Ruffies will be fine in zone 1 and 2. I haven't seen anything but increased numbers for a while even in the "bad" years others report.

Woodies may be moving further north, but that just means they will migrate through later. If it continues to warm up you might even have the chance at a December woodie

Pheasant are increasing slowly but surely (we actually saw one this year) Until people give them a chance with habitat and predator control it won't matter.

Sharpies will be the new draw. They are all over the UP, not just the small area open to hunting. The area should be expanded.

Quail ....... no idea. Never seen one in Michigan.
 

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ten years? who the hell knows.

i know this though. this year is shaping up to be one to remember. a nonexistant winter, followed by a made to order spring. barring some hail storm or flood in the next week or so, and we should be home free for what looks to be an amazing hatch.
 

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I agree with Fritz on all but the ruffed grouse, which I think we're having a very good hatch of this year, like we are of the turkeys, geese, and ducks, and the woodcock, which I think are continuing to decline.

The loons were very late returning to their breeding grounds here, so were my hummingbirds. Despite the warm spring, some folks I've talked to have told me it wasn't such a swell spring further south, instead cold and rainy for their areas, which may have delayed the loons and hummers, as well as a lot of songbirds from coming north early or on time.

It may also have delayed the woodcock, or even kept a lot of them from coming all the way north, as reports seem to increase every year about birds nesting further south. But that could just be that more people are aware of them now further south than there used to be. I know that banders around here did very little or nothing this year, and of the chicks they found, most were already flying at a time when they usually just start marking nests.

Overall, I think the woodcock are continuing to decline in numbers, but it may have slowed a bit.
 

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Here is what I see going into my 25th season following bird dogs:

Ruffed Grouse: personal belief is that 2013 will be the peak, with 14-16 pretty lean compared to the highs, yet still good base numbers because of increased cutting. I don't hunt every corner of the northern lower or u.p. but where I do go, cutting is definately going on. Cuts 0-5 years old are frequent if you look. In 2020 at the next peak this new young cover will be able to support good bird numbers. No input on zone 3.

Sharptail Grouse: I think numbers should only go up. The recent fires should help. Maybe somehow chickens could come back.

Woodcock: slowly falling. Hard critter to judge numbers for the layman. You can see huge numbers for a few days and get a false sense of a healthy population or not fly one for two weeks and feel like numbers crashed. Best left to biological bean counters, but from what I understand winter cover is the limiting factor.

Pheasant: a far cry from what it was even 15 years ago, maybe when corn goes back down around $3 some ground might idle and cr33 might help keeping them extinct. The housing collapse has reverted a lot of potential sub divisions into nice blocks of young weeds here and there and I heard several cocks crowing this spring around metro D in such areas.

Quail: to answer the question of any Michigan wild quail left with a question, are there any wild Indiana (or Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, etc.) quail left? Numbers show a 90% decline in numbers since 1980 across the board minus Texas. There are still a few quail around Michigan, I move some every now and then. Used to shoot quite a few. I don't see it improving in MI in the next decade.

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Great discussion. A lot to be learned from this thread.
 

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Quail: to answer the question of any Michigan wild quail left with a question, are there any wild Indiana (or Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, etc.) quail left? Numbers show a 90% decline in numbers since 1980 across the board minus Texas. There are still a few quail around Michigan, I move some every now and then. Used to shoot quite a few. I don't see it improving in MI in the next decade.

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I ran a field trial in TN early this Spring and the quail hunters down there were extremely negative on the species, saying that it wasn't worth it to go out anymore and a lot of hunters were selling their dogs. Similar experience in SE KS last year. I guess it helps explain why we've become such a major destination hub for the traditional quail hunters of the South.
 

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I certainly don't think public land grouse hunting will get any worse. I am seeing more Federal land being cut than I can remember and of course the state continues to mow down state lands which is/are still your best bet for quality grouse hunting in Michigan.
Woodcock are doing well in my opinion. Last season I saw the greatest flight of birds ever in my career in the woods. However I do believe they are adapting their migration patterns with many, many of them not returning to traditional breeding grounds in the upper peninsula.
 

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I know grouse are studied to fluctuate in 10 year cycles, but in the covers I have been hunting for 16-17 years now, I have never seen a real number change. Maybe I need to expand my range. I have always been able to go in and find birds, and up until a couple years ago, that was without a dog. I like the look of this spring, and hopefully a good fall will come out of it. 10 years? Who knows. I do know that there needs to be some more cutting in the areas of federal land that I hunt. Stuff is getting pretty mature. Maybe that will be the downfall.

As for WC. The first 10 years I hunted birds, I only saw one. I was convinced they were a legend. Now, I kick those little buggers up all over the place. I don't know what has changed, but the population seems to be strong. And yes, I will shoot a few each year.
 

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I tell you what, last season I kicked up more grouse than I can remember and I agree with the light winter and spring we have had I can on.y see it getting better for this year.

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I believe the increase in cutting will help both the grouse and woodcock numbers. Based on my banding exoeriences this year the grouse appear to be up slightly in the woods I tromp. Woodcock numbers were about the same this spring as they have been in the past few years.
 

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don't know what 10 years will bring, but i believe this - that pheasants are very quick to rebound when the circumstances allow. very tough bird. when the habitat allows it, numbers increase quickly.

and i agree about the synopsis for this year. there must have been a dozen roosters cackling in our area of the section last night. like a chorus going off.

and i don't believe you need 25 - 40 acres of grasslands to make a difference.

5 acres of grass on our farm has made a tremendous difference. someday, it will be 50, and i can only imagine what that will hold. but that day will have to wait for some time longer.
 

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Last year in MI, I saw more woodcock than I had in at least 15 years. Same in MN and WI. Last year in MI, WI and MN my grouse numbers were down compared to the year before.
I hope you guys are right about this year being great.


I don't chase Sharptails in MI, but here in MN and WI the Turkeys are killing the hatch and I wish they would allow us an open season on Turkeys. Our sharptail grouse areas are hurting.
 
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