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.

News Release on Ruffed Grouse (July 10, 2017)

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up 57 percent statewide this year compared to last year.

2017 Grouse Survey Report

Results of ruffed grouse survey conducted between April 7 and May 15, 2017.

Submit samples for DNR studies

Sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken hunters can voluntarily submit samples for study by the DNR. Ongoing research is assessing prairie grouse exposure to chemicals called neonicotinoids. These are pesticides that, once applied, can move throughout a plant. Neonicotinoids are commonly applied to seeds before planting. In the study, the DNR is assessing whether prairie grouse have been exposed to neonicotinoids by eating treated seeds, and other means.

Submit tissue samples

Hunters can voluntarily submit whole frozen liver, breast muscle tissue, or entire carcasses from harvested sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens in zip-close type bags, along with the location where the bird was harvested (GPS coordinates preferred). GPS locations and personal data will not be made public.

Samples should be stored frozen in a sealed plastic bag after harvest and dropped off at a local DNR wildlife office by appointment during regular business hours.

Funding for this project is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Submit wings

The DNR will also accept wings from sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken that researchers can archive for future study.

Submit Your Wings


09/15/18 - 01/01/19


Ruffed and Spruce Grouse, Hungarian Partridge season

09/15/18 - 11/30/18


Sharp-tailed Grouse season (northwest zone)

10/13/18 - 11/30/18


Sharp-tailed Grouse season (east-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.

Where to stay

Explore Minnesota - Grouse

If you're not on your home turf, you'll need a place to stay, something to eat and a souvenir or two. Communities such as Grand Rapids, Ely, Duluth and Bemidji offer a wealth of options.

Video: Ruffed grouse drumming

More helpful information on Grouse