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I want to try and do some grouse hunting this year. I am looking for some guidance on what public hunting lands would be the best bet to explore. I live in Bergen County NJ and I'm willing to travel up to 2 hours to hunt. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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Look for timber harvests and you may find some birds. No guarantee, but you probably will find some woodcock. Grouse aren't easy to find south of the Adirondacks so guys are very tightlipped about grouse covers. Same as deer hunters are tight lipped about good spots

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Smart move, as there is no better eating bird that I know of.  It’s been a few years since I killed one, but there seems to be a decent population on the NW corner of the Adirondack park.  

I am up there for some smallmouth bass fishing right now.  Thanks for the reminder, because I’ll be sure to bring along my shotgun, next time I come up for early ML deer season on October 15. 
 

I have always seen the most in and around brushy cover, creek edges, or best of all, abandoned and overgrown apple orchards.  

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One thing you have to remember about grouse hunting. They be fast and you be slow and the older you get the faster they get. :hunter:

Im probably 0-30 on grouse. Ive never hit one! Im usually suspended in wild rose when they flush however


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Right now grouse populations are just starting to rise in their classic 10 year cycle of population.  They have been scarce for the last 2 years, but are coming up again right now.  Nobody really knows why this cycle occurs, but grouse hunters agree it does.

So finding any this year will be tough, especially if you have never really hunted them.  But it's a good year to read books on grouse hunting and study areas with likely habitat and cover.  Grouse & Grouse Hunting by Frank Woolner is a great book to read.  It's also a good year to travel these covers to get your legs in shape and accustomed to hiking a lot of miles looking for them.  It is said for every grouse taken, the hunter has traveled 5 miles in the woods.  Of course a few were missed in those travels too, but it is a good way of setting the expectations a grouse hunter should have.  If you are batting .300 shooting grouse, you're doing great.

I would suggest hunting the Catskill lands that belong to the NYC Watershed Authority.  There is a lot of public land in their possession that will hold grouse.  You can find a listing of these properties online with maps locating them.  (I'll look to see if I have it and post it here if I find it.) Find an area with good cover and maybe some old apple trees, or thornapple groves, and you will find some birds.  Areas with pine groves or hemlock trees will hold some too, but it's hard to see them when they flush inside those trees.  Edges along farmland are often very good too, but an abandoned apple orchard can't be beat.  It's all about knowing what food items the birds are eating at any given time and finding it.  The foods the birds eat changes as the season goes on.  A good grouse dog is priceless too.

To put the odds of hitting one in your favor when you finally flush one, you should choose a lightweight shotgun with a relatively short barrel and an Imp Cylinder bore in the early season, then move to a Modified choke later on when the birds don't hold as close anymore.  It's important to use a gun that you can shoot instinctively, as you will only get a second to point and fire at this fast moving target.  Some practice rounds on a sporting clays course will really pay of when you get a shot at a grouse.  Any light 12 gauge is a good choice and anything 28 gauge on up is fine.  Grouse are not hard to kill.

A lightweight gun helps, because as the day goes on, any gun will feel much heavier than when you started.  A heavy gun combined with fatigue, will turn your shooting skill into one easily matched by a drunken gorilla.

Here's the online info.  Good Luck this fall.

NYC DEP Watershed Recreation Areas (arcgis.com)

Your closest locations will be around Liberty, NY off of Route 17, or around the Ashokan Reservoir off NYS Thruway Exit 19 in Kingston and follow Route 28W.

The farther you go on Route 28, the better the cover will be.  If you are willing to travel as far as Bovina on Route 28, there is good farmland and grouse cover in those woods.

Edited by Grouse
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15 hours ago, The_Real_TCIII said:


Im probably 0-30 on grouse. Ive never hit one! Im usually suspended in wild rose when they flush however


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I started 0/14, on my very first hunt for them, when I was 14 years old.  I was using the 16 ga Ithaca model 37, that my grandad left me when he passed, with a modified choke barrel.  I have yet to kill anything with that combination.

 I mounted a scope on the receiver, a few years later, so it will never see any more grouse action.  It has not failed me once on a deer, using the smooth bore , no/choke deerslayer barrel, since I put the 1.5x Weaver on the receiver.

My other grouse hunts been with 16 gauges also, most with a Stevens Springfield side by side choked I/C and mod.  I have killed about 25 with that and missed about 5.  I took my dads Browning sweet 16 with mod choke on just one hunt, where I shot twice and killed two.

I also may have taken a couple with rifles, one with a .22, while I was squirrel hunting, and another with a 150 gr Federal Classic 30/06, while I was deer hunting.  There wasn’t much left to eat from that one, so I won’t be trying that again.  

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Grouse will be in the most desolate part of any state land that has the thickest cover filled with multi flora sticker bushes and briars.

Unless you have a good dog, you best bet is to have another hunter sneak to the other side of the thicket and wait for a bird to flush as the other hunter is cursing while being ripped apart trying to make their way through the thicket.

 

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Thank you all for your help. I have a GSP who does well with Woodcock and would like to try our hand at another wild bird. I am willing to put in the time on the ground to find the birds, after all walking the woods with your dog is half the fun. I am also willing to travel further if that is what I need to do to be successful. Just trying to narrow down my search area for productive State or public hunting lands. I understand that we are looking for young timber stands or overgrown fields and now, certain trees and food sources. I was considering exploring Bear Spring Mountain WMA and Partridge Run WMA to start. Does anyone know of recent clear cutting or logging operations on those or other public hunting areas?  

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1 minute ago, eaglemountainman said:

Is a permit still required to access the NYC watershed properties? Seems I remember that they might have dropped that requirement a while back, but I could be wrong.

Yes, still required but still free. Some DEP areas are heavily patrolled by DEP police so definitely get one 

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I started 0/14, on my very first hunt for them, when I was 14 years old.  I was using the 16 ga Ithaca model 37, that my grandad left me when he passed, with a modified choke barrel.  I have yet to kill anything with that combination.
 I mounted a scope on the receiver, a few years later, so it will never see any more grouse action.  It has not failed me once on a deer, using the smooth bore , no/choke deerslayer barrel, since I put the 1.5x Weaver on the receiver.
My other grouse hunts been with 16 gauges also, most with a Stevens Springfield side by side choked I/C and mod.  I have killed about 25 with that and missed about 5.  I took my dads Browning sweet 16 with mod choke on just one hunt, where I shot twice and killed two.
I also may have taken a couple with rifles, one with a .22, while I was squirrel hunting, and another with a 150 gr Federal Classic 30/06, while I was deer hunting.  There wasn’t much left to eat from that one, so I won’t be trying that again.  

I had an awesome spot in Hume, havent seen it in 15 years though. Theres were ten or more Chevy Corvaires in the woods lined up, just rusting away


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46 minutes ago, The_Real_TCIII said:


I had an awesome spot in Hume, havent seen it in 15 years though. Theres were ten or more Chevy Corvaires in the woods lined up, just rusting away


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My favorite spot was not to far from there, at a friend’s camp in Centerville.  It’s been about 25 years, since I hunted for grouse in the old overgrown apple orchard down there.  That’s where I had the 2/2 hunt with my dad’s sweet 16, and where I killed the most grouse overall.

That 2/2 hunt, back in 1989, got dad and I thrown out of that camp for opening day of deer season.  That was back when the season opened on Monday.  A couple of my buddies (the camp owner’s sons) and myself had went back Sunday afternoon to check on our stands.  I carried my dad’s sweet 16 , just in case a grouse showed up and the two did, because my Ithaca had a scope on it. 

Nobody saw any deer the following morning, for the first time on opening day, since they had the camp.  One of the old “regulars” said it was because of “those kids shooting those grouse back there” the day before, driving away all the deer.  

Ironically, that was the same year that I killed my PB whitetail buck (as far as antlers go) on Thanksgiving morning, on our farm in Clarence Ctr.  The camp owner and the crotchety, complaining old regular were about a mile down the road, standing in front of his barn, that day.  I made a point of stopping in with that big 3.5 year old 9-point in the bed of my truck.  I have deer hunted from home, or at my folks place in Akron, every gun season opening day since then.    
 

I have not killed one, or even shot at a grouse yet, here at the in-laws place, right on the NW corner of Adirondack park.  Before they built here, they rented a place, about 20 miles off the corner, farther to the NW.  I killed my last 5 or 6 there, including the two with rifles. 
 

I have seen two, and killed one in Clarence Center, about 35 years ago.  I was rabbit hunting with my side by side 16 gauge, and one exploded out of some thick cover, almost at my feet.  I shot quickly, from the hip, and it caught the full pattern, wad and all, from less than 10 yards.  
 

When I walked over to get it, dejavou, “it” exploded out again, which turned out to be a second bird.  I never got a shot off at that one.  About half the breast was blown off of the first one, but what was left was lead tenderized and still very tasty.  I have not seen another one around home after that.  That’s my fault for taking out half of the only mating pair in town, before they established a featherhold.  
 

 

 

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7 hours ago, JimC1965 said:

Thank you all for your help. I have a GSP who does well with Woodcock and would like to try our hand at another wild bird. I am willing to put in the time on the ground to find the birds, after all walking the woods with your dog is half the fun. I am also willing to travel further if that is what I need to do to be successful. Just trying to narrow down my search area for productive State or public hunting lands. I understand that we are looking for young timber stands or overgrown fields and now, certain trees and food sources. I was considering exploring Bear Spring Mountain WMA and Partridge Run WMA to start. Does anyone know of recent clear cutting or logging operations on those or other public hunting areas?  

Grouse numbers even when high in NY state are nothing compared to other new England state grouse numbers because we don't have the land and active logging needed to keep them here.

A lot of the old spots that were productive are either overgrown or posted.

Grouse need a certain habitat to keep them around.

NY does have a grouse program, but when there's not a lot of land , but a lot of hunters , your just traveling to take a walk in the woods with your dog in the most beautiful groomed grouse cover imaginable, but there's not a grouse to be found.

You and your dog will tire from seeing no grouse and your GSP will get bored and start looking to hunt other things in the woods.

If you want to get your dog on grouse, I recommend you taking the time to go up to north east kingdom in Vermont or the north Maine woods.

By the time you leave, your dog will know what a grouse is and you'll also know how to shoot at and sometimes hit them.

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Versatile_Hunter said:

Yes, still required but still free. Some DEP areas are heavily patrolled by DEP police so definitely get one 

Permits are free and easy to acquire, but not all DEP land requires them. In fact, other than the land around the reservoirs, I almost never see "permit required" land. Here are the various signs you will come across.

Recreation By Permit Sign
Areas posted with “Recreation By Permit”signs require a DEP Access Permit.
 
Public Access Area Sign
Areas posted with “Public Access Area” signs do not require a DEP Access Permit for recreational use.
 
No Trespassing Sign
Properties that are marked with “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs are not open for public use.
 
Deer Management Sign
“Deer Management” signs are posted in hunting areas where Quality Deer Management principles are enforced.
 
Caution Active Forest Management Sign
“Caution Active Forest Management” signs appear in areas where forest management projects are underway.
 
Temporary Closure Signs
“Temporary Closure” signs are posted in areas where a recreation area is temporarily closed.
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3 hours ago, left field said:

Permits are free and easy to acquire, but not all DEP land requires them. In fact, other than the land around the reservoirs, I almost never see "permit required" land. Here are the various signs you will come across.

Recreation By Permit Sign
Areas posted with “Recreation By Permit”signs require a DEP Access Permit.
 
Public Access Area Sign
Areas posted with “Public Access Area” signs do not require a DEP Access Permit for recreational use.
 
No Trespassing Sign
Properties that are marked with “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs are not open for public use.
 
Deer Management Sign
“Deer Management” signs are posted in hunting areas where Quality Deer Management principles are enforced.
 
Caution Active Forest Management Sign
“Caution Active Forest Management” signs appear in areas where forest management projects are underway.
 
Temporary Closure Signs
“Temporary Closure” signs are posted in areas where a recreation area is temporarily closed.

Man, I’ve been putting my little DEP permit at every DEP site I go to. I’ve gotta read the rules more carefully. 
The DEP is also doing forest management? That’s great! I thought their approach was to not touch it and leave it in a forever wild state. Is this new? Do you now if the cut locations and dates are posted?

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3 minutes ago, Versatile_Hunter said:

Man, I’ve been putting my little DEP permit at every DEP site I go to. I’ve gotta read the rules more carefully. 
The DEP is also doing forest management? That’s great! I thought their approach was to not touch it and leave it in a forever wild state. Is this new? Do you now if the cut locations and dates are posted?

Forever wild is state parks of NY not DEP. DEP is technically private so they can do as they please. They are most definitely logging their forests, but its mostly because they see an improvement of water quality. The improved habitat is a happy byproduct for them. At least this is what was explained to me by the foresters I've spoken to

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9 hours ago, ATbuckhunter said:

Forever wild is state parks of NY not DEP. DEP is technically private so they can do as they please. They are most definitely logging their forests, but its mostly because they see an improvement of water quality. The improved habitat is a happy byproduct for them. At least this is what was explained to me by the foresters I've spoken to

Haha! Right on cue! (I almost tagged you my post)

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I have stable number in summerhill state forest in Central NY. I see them in the same places every year, the food sources change but you can see there little tiny "V" shaped bites. Crabapple, apples, small tender beech brows, bugs.... they have a large list if food items.

Scouting for them sometimes can be relatively easy. Around 10am often times you can see them dusting on dirt roads. In early season they will be in there broads still and you can have more opportunity at some doubles. Just like everything else if you want to be successful I think it's important to scout.

Driving on downwind edge of brushlots with a dog's head out the window can work great also.

I have only gotten 4(ny limit) one time in my life. I also found a sweatshirt full of apples and honey mushrooms on the same day. It was a day to remember.

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