RGS 2016 GROUSE CAMP TOUR – Monterey, Virginia
The Birthplace of the Ruffed Grouse Society
Walking down the short main street of Monterey, Virginia, a small mountain town in the northwestern part of the state, it would be difficult to assume that North America’s leading forest wildlife conservation organization was started there way back in 1961, but it was . . . welcome to the birthplace of the Ruffed Grouse Society.
That year, three gentlemen sat around a table in a downtown real estate office and decided it was important to conserve ruffed grouse populations for future generations. Unbeknownst to them, they started a national conservation organization in that little mountain town that grew to the well-respected national conservation organization that RGS is today.
During our Stop #2 in Monterey, we did a little research in town and located the original Articles of Incorporation from 1961 at the clerk’s office and stories from 1962 at the local newspaper. The 1962 newspaper article mentioned ruffed grouse as, “the king of upland game birds”. It is clear that passions for ruffed grouse were the same in the early 60’s as they are today.
The Articles of Incorporation state that the purpose of RGS is to ” study ruffed grouse and its habitats . . . to cooperate with all agencies, public and private, who have an interest in conservation and good sportsmanship . . . and to simply promote interest in, and conservation of, the ruffed grouse.” That same purpose still holds true today.
While in northern Virginia, RGS staff also had the pleasure of spending time with volunteers from the James River and H.C. Edwards RGS Chapters afield and in grouse camp. We enjoyed the camaraderie, stories, great food and laughing inherent in the grouse camp tradition. Thank you to the many chapter members that welcomed RGS staff with open arms and thanks for all you do to create healthy forest habitat so we can preserve our sporting traditions for future generations.
And, we found habitat. But, the wildlife in Virginia and the Southern Appalachian region need more habitat, the grouse need more, especially on national forests.
Where we found habitat, we found birds. Hunts resulted in flushes and a birds harvested. RGS member Middleton Smith bagged his first grouse during the Grouse Camp Tour, which we all know is a memorable moment in the lifetime of a grouse hunter. The bottom line is that where there was habitat, there were birds, which proves that the RGS mission of creating healthy forests based on scientific forest management works.
The purpose of the Grouse Camp Tour is to celebrate grouse and woodcock hunting and the creation of young forest habitat by visiting local chapter grouse camps within the region to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the mission of RGS/AWS. Special thanks goes to Darrell Feasel, Bill Sneddon, Mike Carpenter, Roy Lambertson, Middleton Smith, and many others for donating their time and efforts to show staff around the great place of Virginia. There are others who helped, and names missing from this list will be added here and mentioned in the Spring Issue of the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine. Also, thanks to SportDOG Brand for being the official dog collar sponsor of this year’s Tour. www.sportdog.com.