Grouse Habitat Management
grouse should be directed at creating or maintaining a variety
of forest habitats, specifically; breeding cover, nesting cover,
brood rearing cover, and fall/winter cover.
habitat centers around the availability of suitable drumming
logs. Males select level logs on sites where the vegetation
allows visibility of at least 60 feet. The area must have
sufficient stem density and canopy coverage to provide
protection from hawks and owls. At least one drumming log per
acre is required. The best breeding habitat is found in 10 to 25
year old hardwood stands with densities that tend to range from
2,500 to 15,000 stems per acre, depending on the site and
nesting habitats have more open understories, lower densities of
woody stems, and less ground cover than the habitat used for
drumming. Nesting habitat is comprised of young hardwood stands
which are 15 to 30+ years old, with trees 2" to 8" DBH, and
somewhat open understories. Stem densities may range from 2,000
to 8,000 stems per acre but will vary depending on the site and
hardwood species present.
broods prefer habitats which support a diverse mixture of
herbaceous plants with succulent leaves, fruits, and an
abundance of insects. Broods need habitat which is open at
ground level so as not to restrict movement, but with overhead
cover to provide protection from predators. Five to fifteen year
old hardwood clearcuts meet these conditions.
fall and winter, grouse utilize a wide variety of habitats. The
best winter cover exists in clearcut hardwood stands that are 10
to 30+ years old. Moist sites within clearcuts are heavily
utilized in winter because they support a wide variety of food
sources. Laurel and greenbrier thickets serve as important
fall/winter foods particularly in the southeast. Rhododendron
and/or white pine thickets may provide thermal cover.
the desired future habitat conditions for ruffed grouse, habitat
management practices should include:
Clearcutting as the primary habitat management technique.
Providing critical cover types within a small area (50 to
100 acres) adjacent to each other.
forest stands on a pulpwood or short rotation of 40 to 60
small clearcuts (no larger than 15 acres), irregularly
shaped, and well distributed throughout the woodland.
at least one drumming log per acre cut.
any soft mast shrub and tree species present, particularly
grape vines. Retaining a variety of hard mast trees (oaks,
hickories, gum, beech, cherry, etc.).
no den/perch trees within grouse cuts, to reduce habitat for
Promoting the natural seeding of white pine whenever
possible on small areas for winter cover.
Daylighting roads at least 50 feet on each side.
Stabilizing haul roads, skid trails, and landings with a
grass/legume mixture (no fescue). Soft mast plantings should
be incorporated around landings and skid roads, using native
species which retain fruit late into winter.