Minnesota Hunters Have a Passion for Grouse

By Explore Minnesota Tourism

Minnesota provides grouse hunters over a million acres of ruffed grouse habitat on public county and state land, 528 designated hunting areas, 40 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunters walking trails.

Grouse huntersRuffed grouse habitats are primarily in the central and northern regions and extend into the southeast along the Mississippi River. In northern Minnesota, paper mills and logging companies aid in continued creation of excellent grouse habitat in various stages of growth, which provide the hunters with many more options than other states.

Wayne Jacobson, owner of the Sawmill Inn of Grand Rapids, has hosted the National Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Hunt for over 30 years. This prestigious, annual hunt attracts hunters from all over the world. Wayne said the two top reasons that Minnesota is so popular with grouse hunters are “more public hunting land available” and “more birds to hunt, even in our down years.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2013 Minnesota Grouse Spring Survey, “The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is the most popular game bird in Minnesota, with an annual harvest averaging >500,000 birds.” Even on the downward cycle, hunters in other states envy Minnesota’s flush rates. “The grouse drum counts are still favorable,” said Ed Fussy of Pimushe Resort near Bemidji. Ed has hosted avid grouse hunters for over 20 years at his resort.

He commented that “the out-of-state grouse hunters love to come to Minnesota, because even our lowest bird population years are still better than their best.” Ed recalls “just last fall some of our hunters had 20- to 30-a-day bird flushes.”

Minnesota’s fall climate is perfect for grouse hunting—cool temperatures for ruffed grouse, hunters and dogs. The leaves begin to change to brilliant hues of gold and red in early to mid-September. By mid- to late September, 75% of the leaves are off the trees, greatly improving visibility, and temperatures can reach into the freezing levels each night and a pleasant 55 to 60 degrees by midday. The woods have the fresh, crisp smell of fall and the skies are clear and blue.

                                    Photo by Matt Soberg

Eric Hanson, owner of Pehrson Lodge Resort on Lake Vermilion, said his “out-of-state hunting guests appreciate the uncrowded hunting land they find here in northern Minnesota. Rarely will you see a (no trespassing) sign or other hunters while you’re out for the day.”

“Minnesota is also easy to hunt, no need to check your guns or purchase special gun licenses unlike our neighbors to the north,” he adds. Fall is also an excellent time to bring the family and combine some fishing and fall color sightseeing during your stay.

Helpful grouse hunting information:

  • Groused hunting in Minnesota
  • Ruffed and spruce grouse season: Sept. 13, 2014, to Jan. 4, 2015
  • Sharp-tailed grouse season: Sept. 13 to  Nov. 30, 2014 
  • Shooting hours are half an hour before sunrise and sunset. The daily limits are 5 daily combine, 10 possession combine for ruffed and spruce grouse and 3 daily, 6 possession for sharp-tailed. Both cock and hen are legal game.
  • Visit the Minnesota DNR website to buy your license and download maps of hunters walking trails