Grouse hunting

Grouse, gun and dog

There's more to Minnesota than 10,000 lakes. Try 11 million acres of public hunting land, 528 designated hunting areas in the ruffed grouse range covering nearly 1 million acres, more than 40 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunter walking trails.

Minnesota offers some of the best grouse hunting in the country. Even in down years of the grouse population's boom-and-bust cycle, hunters in other states still envy our flush rates and hunter success rates remain high.

Grouse already know Minnesota is the perfect place. It's time you did, too.

West Nile samples needed from hunters

You can contribute to research on West Nile virus in ruffed grouse by voluntarily submitting samples from birds you harvest. Participation involves submitting hearts, a few feathers for sexing and aging, and blood collected on filter strips.

The location of harvest will also be requested (GPS coordinates preferred and will not be made public). Sampling kits will be available at DNR Wildlife Offices within ruffed grouse range on a first-come first-served basis during regular office hours beginning Sept. 3. Contacts for area wildlife offices are available on the DNR website. There is no evidence that people can contract West Nile virus from handling or consuming properly cooked birds. 

Contact Ted Dick at [email protected] or call 218-395-0577 for more information. Hunters who drop off fully completed West Nile virus test kits and datasheets before Jan. 1 will be entered in a drawing for prizes donated by sponsors.

Spruce grouse genetics study

You can contribute to research on landscape connectivity for spruce grouse by sending three to five feathers from each bird you harvest.

To participate, please use one envelope for each bird and send feathers to Grouse Research at 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Please include your name, contact information, harvest date, and harvest location (GPS coordinates preferred for the analysis and will not be made public) for each bird.

For more information, email Charlotte Roy at [email protected].

Upland bird calendar

Scroll table right to see more »
09/19/20 - 01/03/21Ruffed & spruce grouseStatewide
09/19/20 - 11/30/20Sharp-tailed grouseNorthwest zone
10/10/20 - 11/30/20Sharp-tailed grouseEast-central zone


What you'll need

Not counting a sturdy pair of boots, a blaze orange hat and vest and a shotgun, all you need to hunt grouse in Minnesota is a valid small game license.

Hunters seeking woodcock must be HIP-certified (done when you purchase your Minnesota license) but do not need state or federal migratory bird stamps. Shotguns may not hold more than three shells unless a plug is used.


Where to hunt

Whether you follow the footsteps of famed grouse researcher Gordon Gullion in the uplands of the 34,000-acre Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area, traverse the hunting trails of the 1.6 million acre Chippewa National Forest or try your luck in the far northern forests bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake Of The Woods, Minnesota grouse won't disappoint.

What to hunt

On any given year, grouse is Minnesota’s most popular upland game bird with plentiful populations that cycle up and down every 10 years. But ruffed grouse aren’t the only game birds in the forest. You're also likely to find woodcock in the same habitat. These birds migrate south for the winter and in spring, they return to cuts in alder and willow brush, where they find nesting and feeding habitat.

Can't hunt? Reserve a viewing blind

Experience the spring mating rituals of sharp-tailed grouse.

Map locationContact
1Aitkin area wildlife – 218-429-3012
2Cloquet area wildlife – 218-878-5661
3 & 4Baudette area wildlife – 218-634-1705, Ext. 222
5Crookston – 218-686-6872

Viewing blinds will be closed this season

Prairie chicken viewing opportunities

Map showing starred locations of viewing blinds for sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens.