Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ruffed Grouse in the North GA Mountains

The north Georgia mountains are the southernmost range of one of our country's popular upland game birds, the Ruffed Grouse. While not nearly as plentiful as they are in northern areas, there is a stable and huntable population of grouse in our national forests and WMAs.

The Georgia Ruffed Grouse season runs from October 15, 2008 - February 28, 2009 with a limit of 3 birds per day. Dogs, especially Spaniels and Setters, are often used in the pursuit of these elusive birds who would often rather run than fly away from danger. Habitat changes have taken place over the past couple of decades for Ruffed Grouse in north Georgia. Environmental regulations that have reduced the amount of clear cutting in the forests have limited the amount of food and cover available. You are most likely to find the birds near a food source..and these days that consists mostly of acorns, wild herbs and their seeds, blueberries and dogwood berries. Cover is often provided by rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets close to springs and streams.
All of north Georgia's Wildlife Management Areas with good elevation can harbor populations of Ruffed Grouse, with some of the best habitat and availability found in the Cohutta, Chattahoochee, and Cooper Creek WMAs. The terrain requires both hunters and dogs to be in decent physical condition and good knowledge of the outdoors and safety practices. The effort is considered worth it by hard core bird hunters, a Ruffed Grouse bagged in Georgia is considered a coveted trophy-hunters average flushing or seeing less than three birds per trip.

For more information about Georgia Wildlife Management Areas and hunting regulations, click on the link below:

Georgia DNR

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