What’s Happening Now – November 2014
From Upland Journal, November 16, 2014:
Tough year in the Keystone state for many of us. The birds have not been as plentiful in general and certainly not in marginal habitat.
Over the past 6 years or so I have averaged about 6 miles for every dead bird. For much of that time I was shooting about 30% so that would be one shot every 2 miles over the course of a season. I would say I get shots at about a third to a fourth of the birds I find, so maybe I find a grouse every half mile. So that was about 12 birds a day flushed over the course of a season, obviously some bad days bring it down and some great days bring it back up.
So this year started off really bad. First 2 1/2 days…zilch/0 for 12 miles of walking. Now I’m up to 9 days and I’ve killed six grouse covering ~48-54 miles so that’s a little over 8 miles per grouse in the bag. Worse, I’ve shot 50% the last five days, good for me, but it means we really are seeing fewer birds as my birds per mile is down by a third.
Still, there is nothing else I would rather be doing and since my whole passion for grouse hunting is that it get’s me “out there”, I guess I’m still accomplishing something.
For those of you who are just starting to pursue grouse hunting though, think Michigan.
Even on years of a poor quail hatch here in Arizona, we really have it pretty good. Can you imagine covering approximately 50 miles for six quail or approximately 8 miles per quail? Just thought this might bring a bit of perspective!
As it turns out, there has been a pretty decent hatch in some areas, especially for Gambel’s quail. The ratio of birds of the year is 7 of 10 which says that is a pretty good hatch, and even if those areas may be few and far between, they are out there. As always it seems, there is bleak news and that is that some areas are as low as 1 to 2 birds of the year out of 10. So, do some scouting.
Generally, Scaled quail have fared pretty well. Several different age groups are in the hatch – some being birds that are full grown birds of the year and you’re not able to determine if they are juvenile or adult until their wing feather is checked, and other birds of the year that are obviously younger and smaller.
To close, a continuing quandary about decreasing quail numbers. One of the advantages of having spent many years in the field is that I’m seeing some areas right now that had produced good numbers of quail in the past and held good numbers throughout the seasons. But for the past few years especially, they have slimmed down to none or very poor numbers. Even though Arizona is in a long-term drought, I wonder why some of those areas which currently hold excellent quail habitat – feed and water – aren’t producing quail. There has to be other factors involved other than just drought. Something to ponder.
Will be checking in with some Mearns’ reports about mid-December. A very blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.