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

If you would like to contribute to research on West Nile virus in ruffed grouse, you can become involved in this voluntary hunter submission of samples collected within 60 miles of Bemidji and Grand Rapids.

Participation involves submitting hearts, a few feathers for sexing and aging and blood collected on filter strips from harvested birds for testing. You must also provide the location of harvest (GPS location preferred). The location will not be made public.

Contact Ted Dick at [email protected] or call 218-395-0577 for more information. Sampling kits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Funding for this project is provided, in part, by The Ruffed Grouse Society.

Upland bird calendar

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09/14/19 - 01/01/20


Ruffed and spruce grouse, and Hungarian partridge hunting

09/14/19 - 11/30/19

Northwest zone

Sharptailed grouse hunting

10/12/19 - 11/30/19

East-central zone

Sharptailed grouse hunting


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.