It’s shaping up to be a beautiful grouse season in Northern Minnesota! Unofficial reports and personal observations from foresters, dog handlers, observant residents, and those scouting for grouse are sounding good. These observations include large broods (adult hen and juveniles) from Aitkin to the Canadian border. Consistent with the last few years the distribution of these birds is patchy with pockets of good numbers. To be successful, plan on being mobile if the area you normally hunt or have scouted does not produce good numbers. Try moving 10-20 miles in a different direction and pick a couple good covers to test. With the incredible abundance of public land and publicly accessible land around Grand Rapids, Minnesota you should be able to quickly find another spot with a mapping app that has both satellite imagery and ownership layers (e.g. OnX). This bit of technology has made scouting new areas much easier and will give you a lot of confidence in exploring the seemingly endless land access opportunities in the greater Itasca County area.
If you plan to hunt with a dog, bring extra water bottles this year. This summer was hot and dry in the Northwoods and much of the low laying areas, ditches, small creeks, bogs, and even beaver ponds have dried up or are extremely low. Much of those traditional watering holes for dogs are dry to stagnant. Surface water conditions should improve as the trees lose their leaves and evapotranspiration (evaporation plus transpiration from leaves) declines in to fall. With hopes for a little bit of precipitation, it is anticipated that some of the low areas will begin to hold water again and moist soils will support migrating woodcock as they fly through and forage for invertebrates in flight covers in October.
Dog Friendly Place to Stay
Grand Rapids remains an excellent hub for grouse hunters in Northern Minnesota. The town has a culture built around outdoor recreation and is welcoming of hunters and anglers from across the United States and beyond. Many of the town’s hotels are pet friendly and are accustomed to lodging hunting dogs in fall. You can find yourself in good hunting cover within 10 minutes of town in the morning and return later that evening to plenty of places to eat and enjoy a drink to celebrate your time in the woods. With two local breweries and many local eateries the town provides comfortable accommodations for a wide range of tastes.
Blog By: Meadow Kouffeld
Woods and Meadow LLC.
For more information on hunting walking trails, shooting hours, limits and how to be apart of the spruce grouse genetics study, go to https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/grouse/index.html.