The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) held its 35th annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt (NGWH) on October 13 and 14, 2016 in and around Grand Rapids, Minnesota with harvest results, obtained by RGS wildlife biologists, showing increases in ruffed grouse and American woodcock harvest compared to 2015.
Participating hunters (104) harvested 175 ruffed grouse during the two-day hunt, which is a 17 percent increase over the 2015 harvest of 149 ruffed grouse. Each hunter harvested an average of 0.86 grouse per day in 2016, which is the fourth lowest in NGWH history, compared to 0.73 in 2015, which was the second lowest. These results are not surprising as we climb from the bottom of the ruffed grouse cycle. Based upon calculated results, the index to reproductive success for ruffed grouse was 15 percent lower than the long-term average, which means there were fewer young birds in the current population.
Participating hunters harvested 384 American woodcock, which is an 8 percent increase over the 2015 harvest of 357 American woodcock. Each hunter harvested an average of 1.9 woodcock per day in 2016 compared to 1.7 in 2015. Based upon the calculated results, the index to reproductive success for American woodcock was on par with the long term average.
“Not only has the RGS National Hunt been an important celebration of grouse and woodcock hunting for 35 years, but it provides an unparalleled opportunity to study the population ecology of ruffed grouse and American woodcock,” said RGS President and CEO John Eichinger. “Each year, the data collected gives us a chance to better understand these two important game birds. The information accumulated throughout the history of this event represents one of the longest, continuous efforts for collecting scientific data of a target species within a specific region.”
The late Gordon W. Gullion, universally acknowledged as the world’s expert on ruffed grouse, immediately recognized the scientific potential of the NGWH when the event was first held in 1982. Gullion understood that because it is conducted in the same locale, at the same time each year and using the same methods, it provides an outstanding opportunity to study the annual variation of the local ruffed grouse population and how that variation relates to the 10-year cycle.
The NGWH is conducted in the Grand Rapids area during the second week in October each year. This world-class event is sponsored and coordinated by the Grand Rapids Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society whose volunteers contribute literally thousands of hours of their time to make the event happen.
“We are proud to host the RGS National Hunt in Grand Rapids. Not only does the event enhance the future of grouse and woodcock populations, but it brings marketing and tourism benefits to the local community. Thanks to all the Grand Rapids Chapter committee members for their hard work and dedication to host this celebration of grouse and woodcock hunting,” said Grand Rapids Chapter President Marty Niewind.
For 35 years, the NGWH has provided invaluable insight into the ecology of these two premier game birds. RGS will continue to ask questions and, hopefully, find answers through the NGWH that will help secure the future for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and the sportsmen and women who hold them so dear.