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tybo

MN Drumming Count up!!

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I just saw on the MN DNR HSOforum that the drumming count numbers are up again. Let's hope they make it to the fall.

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Here's the news from the DNR:

Ruffed grouse counts up after uncertain fall hunt (June 20, 2008)

Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts are slightly higher than last year despite the concern of some hunters that last fall’s harvest didn’t meet their expectations.

“Some people thought last fall’s grouse population may have been lower than expected given drumming counts from the spring of 2007,” said Mike Larson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife research scientist. “This year’s counts suggest that any potential problems probably haven’t had a substantial effect on this spring’s breeding population.”

Drumming counts increased 9 percent in the northeast survey region, the core of grouse range in Minnesota, to 1.6 drums per stop. Grouse counts increased most in the central hardwoods region, from 0.7 to 1.0 drum per stop. There were slight increases to 0.9 drums per stop in the northwest and 0.6 drums per stop in the southeast.

Minnesota frequently is the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. On average, 115,000 hunters harvest 545,000 ruffed grouse in Minnesota each year, also making it the state’s most popular upland game bird. During the peak years of 1971 and 1989, hunters harvested more than 1 million ruffed grouse. Michigan and Wisconsin, which frequently field more hunters than Minnesota, round out the top three states in ruffed grouse harvest.

“Higher drumming counts are good news,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “Minnesota offers some of the best ruffed grouse hunting in the nation and we want to maintain and enhance those opportunities.”

One reason for Minnesota’s status as a top grouse producer is an abundance of aspen and other ruffed grouse habitat, much of it located on county, state and national forests, where public hunting is allowed. According to the DNR’s draft ruffed grouse management plan, 11.5 million of the state’s 16.3 million acres of forest are grouse habitat. Maintaining public hunting access to large blocks of private lands through the Forest Legacy Program also is a key strategy.

“Maintaining prime grouse habitat is important,” Simon said. “Wildlife managers are working closely with forest managers to find ways for timber harvests to benefit habitat that can provide ample thermal cover for grouse in winter.”

Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s ruffed grouse range. This year, observers recorded 1.4 drums per stop statewide. Last year’s average was 1.3 drums per stop. Counts vary from about 0.8 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 1.9 during years of high abundance.

Ruffed grouse populations tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, Larson said. Counts have increased each year since the last low in 2005.

For the past 59 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 13 organizations surveyed 132 routes across the state.

The DNR’s grouse survey report, which contains information on sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens, will be available soon online at mndnr.gov/hunting.

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I've been trying not to think about it....but when I start to see the signs for Game Fair I know it wont be long now....He he he .....uplander

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