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.

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

Ruffed grouse

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. If you are strictly hunting grouse, you do not need a plug.

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.

Sharp-tailed grouse

Sharp-tailed grouse zones

Map depicting Minnesota's sharp-tailed grouse hunting zones.

Map depicting Minnesota's sharp-tailed grouse hunting zones.

Northwest zone

The northwest sharp-tailed grouse zone is that portion of the state’s open area lying west of the described boundary line: Beginning at the intersection of Voyageurs National Park and the northern boundary of the state; thence along the western boundary of the park to the public access to Lake Kabetogama at Gappa's Landing; thence along County Road 523, St. Louis County, to County State-Aid Highway (CSAH) 123, St. Louis County; thence along CSAH 123 to CSAH 122, St. Louis County; thence along CSAH 122 to U.S. Highway (US) 53, thence along US 53 to State Trunk Highway (STH) 73; thence along STH 73 to the intersection of STH 73 and STH1.

East central zone

The east central sharp-tailed grouse zone is that portion of the state’s open area that is not included in the northwest zone.

About sharp-tailed grouse


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.
Spruce grouse

Learn more 

Spruce grouse are found in Minnesota only in the most northern part of the state. They are far more common in Canada, which has plenty of the spruce forests that this bird prefers.