RGS History 1970's

The 1970's -- Becoming a Full Force Drumming...




The Ruffed Grouse Society’s roots are in the mountains. The organization, founded in the small Virginia town of Monterey, in the mountainous country near the West Virginia border, was granted a Virginia charter dated October 24, 1961 as The Ruffed Grouse Society of America.

The Society has experienced two truly seminal years, the first 1961, the year of its inception, and the second 1977. In that first year, Bruce R. Richardson, Jr.; Seybert Beverage, an attorney; and Dixie L. Shumate set out to create an organization to help find out what was ailing ruffed grouse populations, which they saw in general decline.

Sixteen years later, in 1977, the organization found itself at a crossroads. The Society’s leaders, dissatisfied with the pace of progress up until then decided to dramatically revamp the organization. What followed was a revitalization, and over the next 30 plus years RGS laid out a comprehensive campaign to bring the cause of forest wildlife to the forefront of the conservation movement.

It was in 1977 that The Ruffed Grouse Society of North America, as it was called since mid-1971, got its second wind. Following the reorganization, from 1978 through 1981 the annual growth rate of the Society approached 64 percent. Within that time period, income totaled approximately $720,000, nearly twice the income raised in RGS’ first 17 years.

Annual meeting at Shanty Creek Lodge in Bellaire, MI August 28-29, 1970. National and state organizational charts developed. Membership jumps from 275 to several thousand. Full-time office opened at 4515 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY.

Current view of RGS' first full-time office location
4515 Culver Rd as it appeared on Google Maps Street View in 2010.

Name changed to add North; Ruffed Grouse Society of North America on magazine's first glossy paper cover.

First use of RGS of NORTH America
Ruffed Grouse Society of North America first use.

Want Ad for Executive Secretary. Gordon Gullion named head of board Research and Development Committee. Gullion’s habitat improvement booklet “Improving Your Forested Lands For Ruffed Grouse” announced for sale in December. Member application includes Life Member @ $25/yr for 6 years (quite a bargain; a Centurion is $1000 up front in 2011). Annual meeting at Worthy Inn, Manchester, VT September 17 and 18. Authorization obtained to publish sections of Wm. Harnden Foster’s “great grouse classic” New England Grouse Shooting in magazine and to sell the book (first merchandise other than pin, patch or decal) re-printed by Charles Scribner’s. Read the first installment, Chapter 1, "THE LITTLE GUN", as it appeared in the March 1971 issue and "HITTING A GROUSE" pages 7-17 from the December issue.

Drawing From Hitting A Grouse in New England Grouse Shooting
Example drawing from New England Grouse Shooting "HITTING A GROUSE" by Wm. Harnden Foster


Improving Forested Lands ad -- RGS' first habitat improvement publication
"Improving Your Forested Lands For Ruffed Grouse" Ad – RGS’ first habitat management publication

RGSNA Membership Application - 1971
RGSNA 1971 membership application

Want Ad for first RGS Executive
Want ad for RGS’ first Executive Secretary


The Society provided a grant to Gordon Gullion, who would, over the years, earn the title “Mr. Grouse.” His studies in Minnesota of grouse, grouse habitat and most especially the relationship between grouse and aspen are still paying dividends. Life membership no longer available for new enrollees after year-end. Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota hold first state-wide chapter meetings. Board of Governors (current day Board of Directors) listed and described. “Band Woodcock” article by Robert Lytle.

Don Whitlatch woodcock art from The RGSNA newsletter
Art on Dec. 1972 The RGSNA “cover” in larger format since December 1971.

THE DRUMMER – Newsletter of the Ruffed Grouse Society of North America became the official newsletter (now 3 issues/yr) with a 4 page newsletter in February, 16 saddle-stitched pages in June and eight pages in December; edited by Mark C. Rees, Executive Secretary. WANTED -- Habitat Improvement Consultant ad. Grouse and Woodcock Management Symposium held in mid-September. Ohio state chapter organized.

THE DRUMMER Feb 1973 banner
THE DRUMMER first issue.


Annual meeting at Sheraton Inn, Rochester, NY. Improving Your Forested Lands For Ruffed Grouse price reduced from $4 to $3. Changed from two magazines and two newsletters per year to one magazine (see below) and four (or five in the same issue) newsletters per year.

New format - full cover July 1974 THE DRUMMER 
New cover design

David C. Batson, II hired as new Executive Director August 1, 1974 and national headquarters moved from Rochester, NY to Kingwood, WV. Albert A. Smith, Michigan elected president.

Ad for Executive Director
WANTED ad for Executive Director

RGSNA headquarters in Kingwood, WV

The blue patch with tail feather became known as the “Turkey” patch (see 1967) replaced in March with below patch with separate rocker panels showing membership level for Sustaining and Sponsor members.

RGS of North America patch w/ Sustaining and Sponsor rocker panels
New RGSNA member patch shown with both Sustaining and Sponsor rocker panels.

“THE DRUMMER” transitions to “tabloid” using four and then eight large sheets of newsprint and starts as Vol. 1 No. 1 in June.

THE DRUMMER Vol 1 No 1 June 1975

Annual meeting held at Park Place Motor Inn in Traverse City, Michigan. Joe Messenger hired as habitat consultant.

1974-05 WVU grad wildlife class at habitat improvement demo area sign
Sign erection was the highlight of the field trip as Dr. Ed Michael's (far right) graduate wildlife
management class began cutting. Dave Batson, Dr. Phil Mathias (property owner), and behind Phil,
R.G.S.N.A.'s new Habitat Consultant, Joe Messinger (hand on sign) are pictured at far left.
The fourth person from the right is Susie. She demonstrated woman can handle an axe too!

April found RGSNA in second Kingwood, WV headquarters.

Kingwood WV 2nd HQ Apr 1976
Second RGSNA headquarters near Kingwood, WV.

Annual meeting October 1-3, at Holiday Inn, Ithaca, NY where Robert J. Lytle is elected President. December 1976 Batson resigns as Executive Director (ED) and Mark C. Dilts, editor-publisher named interim ED. RGSNA initiates major habitat projects in WV and VT.

Drummer Cover Feb 1976.jpg
Dietmar Krumrey’s Ruffed Grouse – Series II, significant in two ways: first art to grace two RGS covers (again in Feb. 1978) and grouse later used as RGS arm patch.

THE LATE 1970's

At Pine Mountain, Georgia, in the spring of ’77 the Directors overhaul the Society. There they first state the comprehensive goal that still defines RGS: Dedicated to improving the environment for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest wildlife. They hire a new executive director, Samuel R. Pursglove, Jr., PhD and they shorten the Society’s name to The Ruffed Grouse Society by knocking off “of North America” (because nobody uses it anyway). They also begin to develop plans to generate the income that will be needed to allow the Society to grow and to accomplish the goals set for it.

Drummer Cover New RGS May 1977.jpg
The Drummer May 1977 cover showing The NEW Ruffed Grouse Society.

Major headlines and Samuel R. Pursglove, Jr., new Executive Director.
Major headlines and Samuel R. Pursglove, Jr., new Executive Director.

Robert J. Lytle, president of the National Board of Directors in 1977 has this to say: “First, we must regain the desirable grouse habitat that has been lost to over-mature forests.”

Quadna Mountain Lodge, Hill City, MN hosts the 16th annual meeting October 7-9. RGS’ offices are moved from Kingwood, WV to Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, where they remain today, although moving four times between 1977 and 1990.

RGS’ first Coraopolis PA headquarters.
RGS’ first Coraopolis, PA headquarters at 1314 Fourth Ave.

In October, the Board of Directors unanimously approves the affiliation proposal submitted by the Pennsylvania Grouse Association (PGA). A working agreement is established between the two fully autonomous non-profits. The PGA will function primarily as the operating arm of the Society in Pennsylvania, where it has already conducted its own successful programs over the past several years.

In one of the Ruffed Grouse Society’s early major cooperative agreements, RGS and Minnesota Power and Light Company join in an effort to improve habitat in the Island Lake Areas, about 30 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota. Gordon Gullion, leader of the Forest Wildlife Project, University of Minnesota, and chairman of the Society’s Projects Committee, outlines the habitat management proposal for the 640 acres of mature and over-mature aspen being made available by the power company.

The most successful fund-raising venture in the entire history of the Society (at that time) is held in Pittsburgh April 6, 1978. The Ruffed Grouse Society and its new affiliate, the Pennsylvania Grouse Association, jointly sponsor the first annual Greater Pittsburgh Area Sportsmen’s Banquet. The Society’s Sportsmen’s Banquet Program is under way with the first 5 fund-raising banquets held in Pittsburgh and Reading PA, Detroit and Traverse City MI, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Dr. Roger Latham, festured speaker at RGS' first Sportsmen's Banquet, Pittsburgh, PA
First RGS fund-raising Sportsmen's Banquet in Pittsburgh, PA.                                              

The Forest Wildlife Foundation is formed. The Foundation, as an adjunct to the Ruffed Grouse Society, will encourage people from all walks of life, not just upland sportsmen, to contribute to research designed to answer pressing wildlife management questions and on-the-ground habitat work utilizing the lessons learned through this research.

As he assumes the duties of president of the National Board of Directors from Bob Lytle at the year’s end, Leigh H. Perkins observes, “We have a unique and very saleable product in the Ruffed Grouse Society.” 

The Society selects its first regional director, Rodney W. Sando, a former director of the Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. His region includes the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. This first field representative in the Society’s history is considered a “free consultant,” available to forest owners who want to improve habitat for ruffed grouse, woodcock and other wildlife. He and future regional directors will be deeply involved in the development of active local chapters.

The Society receives its first chance at significant national exposure when ABC’s The American Sportsman television show, hosted by Curt Gowdy, chooses RGS as a program subject. Involved in the filming are Sando; Gullion; Steve Garvey, first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers; his wife Cyndy, a Los Angeles television personality; and Lral I. Delaney, world famous trap shooter.

A new RGS conservation stamp program begins. Annual revenues derived from the sale of stamps and limited edition stamp prints will fund forest wildlife habitat improvement through the Forest Wildlife Foundation. The first stamp/print painting is of a ruffed grouse pair by Jim Foote (shown below), a professional wildlife biologist turned wildlife artist from Michigan.

RGS 1979 Stamp Print by James Foote
RGS First of Edition - 1979 Stamp Print by James Foote

Roger M. Latham, Pennsylvania outdoor writer, Ruffed Grouse Society National Director and world-respected conservationist and lecturer is killed in a mountain-climbing accident in the Swiss Alps while photographing wildlife. His was one of the strong guiding hands of the Pennsylvania Grouse Association, and his reputation added immeasurably to the credibility of the state group and, subsequently, to the Ruffed Grouse Society’s in the early days of the RGS-PGA affiliation.

More than 30 years after the 1977 restructuring that ushered in a new era, RGS fills a unique niche in the conservation world. No other organization dedicates itself to the improvement of forest wildlife habitat, and does so by actively seeking partnerships with those who have primary responsibility for the forests. At the core of the Society’s philosophy is that forests can be managed by science-based methods that benefit both the forests and the wildlife species that live within them.

“For all of us, it was a labor of love,” said Bruce Richardson, RGS’ first president, many years ago.

It remains so today.

Continue to the 1980's
Return to History

Created February 3, 2011
Revised February 20, 2012


Mission Statement

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

Join & Renew

Sign Up

Corporate Sponsors