Grouse season far from over
Leaves are down. Ruffed rouse numbers are up. Now is the time get out and hunt.
That's the message from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whose field staff report ruffed grouse hunting has been quite good this autumn.
"Most hunters are seeing or hearing about good numbers of birds," said Jay Johnson, DNR hunting recruitment and retention coordinator. "This is a great year for introducing someone to grouse hunting, or taking it up again if you haven't been in the field in recent years when the birds weren't as abundant." The season runs through Jan. 3.
Johnson said some of the best hunting reports are coming from the northwest and north-central parts of the state. Hunters are finding success in areas with extensive quality cover such as aspen forests with stem diameters between two to three inches. Especially important are thick patches of brush, such as hazel or dogwood within aspen stands. Alder swamp edges can also be very productive. Grouse seek refuge in this thick and tangled cover now that the canopy of leaves has fallen to the forest floor.
Johnson reminds would-be grouse hunters that the firearms deer hunting season remains open through Nov. 22 in much of north central and northeastern Minnesota. As such, hunters may want to focus on other parts of the state. Grouse hunters are always required to wear one blaze orange article of clothing above the waist. When grouse hunting during the firearms deer season blaze orange requirements are more extensive. During this time the visible portion of a hunter's cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, must be blaze orange.
Hunters can find public hunting land by using DNR's hunter walking trail locator at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Johnson said Google Earth also can be an effective tool for locating and scouting grouse habitat. With practice, hunters can use the site's aerial photos to identify young forest stands, logging trails, swamp edges and other features that contribute to success.
"A resourceful grouse hunter will be able to find more quality grouse cover on public lands than they can ever hunt," said Johnson. "Now is the time to discover your niche in the forest and how fun grouse hunting can be."