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.
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.
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.
The DNR will also accept wings from sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken that researchers can archive for future study.
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
Minnesota's most popular upland game bird population is past the peak of it's 10-year cycle. Although we're on what the downward side of that peak, hunter-to-drum counts continue to be favorable and hunters harvested an average of 4.3 birds in 2011.
You're also likely to find woodcock in the same habitat. These birds are beginning their migration south for the winter. Come spring, they'll return to cuts in alder and willow brush, where they find nesting and feeding habitat.
Where to stay
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.
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