October 16, 2018
For Immediate Release
Coraopolis, Pa. – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and American Woodcock Society (AWS) held the 37th Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt (NGWH) on Thursday and Friday October 11 and 12, 2018 in and around Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Throughout the NGWH history, data have been consistently collected from all harvested birds by RGS/AWS wildlife biologists to provide historic perspective on population trends. Results this year showed decreases in both ruffed grouse and American woodcock harvests compared to 2017.
Participating hunters harvested 96 ruffed grouse during the two-day hunt (39 grouse on day 1 and 57 grouse on day 2). Wednesday overnight precipitation in the form of ice and snow occurred across most of the hunt areas, which created challenging conditions to begin the event. The first day harvest of ruffed grouse was 37 percent lower than the 2017 NGWH opening day take, while the second day harvest was down just 8 percent from last year. The harvest consisted of 47 percent adult birds, 53 percent juveniles, 43 percent females and 57 percent males. The recruitment ratio (the number of immature birds divided by the number of mature females in the harvest) was 2.72, down from 3.33 in 2017 and the lowest ever recorded at the NGWH.
A total of 291 American woodcock were harvested during the NGWH, a decrease of about 13 percent from the 2017 harvest of 333 woodcock. The day 1 harvest was nearly 40 percent lower
than 2017, but the day 2 harvest increased about 14 percent over last year. The woodcock recruitment ratio was 2.76, a considerable increase from just 0.51 in 2017. The woodcock harvest consisted of 39 percent adult birds, 61 percent juveniles, and 54 percent females compared to 46 percent males.
“Not only has the National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt been an important celebration of hunting traditions for over 35 years, but it provides a unique opportunity to study the population ecology of ruffed grouse and American woodcock,” said RGS/AWS President and CEO Ben Jones. “Each year, the data collected gives us a chance to better understand these two important game birds. The indication of poor grouse recruitment in recent years is a topic of concern to us that warrants further consideration, and we look forward to engaging with our valued agency and university partners to ensure this is given appropriate attention.”
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. The information accumulated throughout the history of this event represents one of the longest, continuous efforts for collecting scientific data for these or any other hunted species from a specific area.
For over 35 years, the NGWH has provided invaluable insight into the ecology of these two premier game birds. RGS will continue to ask questions and seek answers through the NGWH and follow-up efforts that will help secure the future for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and the sportsmen and women who hold them so dear.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society are North America’s foremost conservation organizations dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS and AWS work with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.
More about the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, mission and programs can be found at www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
RGS & AWS Director of Conservation Policy