Hunt Reports: MN, MI Grouse Seem Good

October 4, 2010 | By | Reply More

Sharing hunt reports....

It’s tough to tell what a bird season in an entire state will be from anecdotal reports, but that’s really all anyone has to go on – and we’re all going to hunt anyway, right? Here are a couple of ruffed grouse reports from Minnesota and Michigan, two states that – per our compiled grouse forecast – are supposed to have good grouse populations this year.


Bill Marchel writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

> Not long after sunrise, we took to the woods accompanied by our canine counterparts, Rolf’s pudelpointer, Annie, and my Deutsch Drahthaar, Axel. A light frost – the first of the season – covered the grasses in the openings among the aspens. Fall colors have yet to peak. It was 34 degrees, perfect for man and dog.

> Early season hunting for ruffed grouse can be frustrating because oftentimes, due to the heavy vegetation, flushing grouse wing to safety without being seen and without a shot being fired. [They also run more!]

> …the whirr of wings. “Coming at you,” Rolf yelled. Sure enough, a big adult grouse sporting a long red tail winged past my head and out over a watery sedge meadow. Not a twig was between the bird and me – a grouse hunter’s version of a slam dunk if there ever was one. Twice I pulled the trigger, and twice feathers flew, but the bird continued on, finally flying out of sight into the woods a hundred yards or so across the wet meadow. “We can find that bird,” I said to Rolf.

> Men and dogs sloshed across the wet meadow stumbling now and then on the grassy hummocks. Some 40 yards into the woods, Axel’s beeper signaled he was pointing. I spotted the dog, rigid among a clump of hazel brush, and approached him head on, gun ready. In front of Axel’s nose I discovered the now-dead grouse.

> A few minutes later Rolf added a bird to his game bag when Axel accidently bumped a grouse. Axel is 10 years old. When he messes up and puts a grouse to wing without first pointing the bird, he often barks as if frustrated with his poor performance. Rolf heard Axel bark and then spotted a grouse darting among the aspens in his direction.

> In roughly four hours of hunting, we had 26 grouse flushes, some of which I’m sure were reflushes. Four ruffs ended up in our game bags. Our dogs, a bit rusty after a long offseason, bumped a number of birds out of gun range. We also put up nine woodcock [that season was not open yet].

> The best grouse hunting of the season is yet to come, when the cool winds of October send the leaves tumbling downward. [We will be there!]


Michigan is supposed to be on fire grouse-wise this year. Although this article in the Flint Journal isn’t about traditional bird-hunting, it gives a flavor of how many birds are in the woods – seems like a lot.

> Last week, I had one of the more unusual grouse openers in my bird hunting history.
I joined a group of traditional muzzleloaders from throughout Michigan for a grouse-and-squirrel opener hunt on private land a few miles east of Fairview….

> There hadn’t been a hard freeze in this part of Michigan as of mid-September,  so the ferns and leaf cover were still thick and green, making it difficult to see flushing grouse. We heard quite a few birds flushing, but we didn’t see them until it was too late to get a shot. Because the aspen groves were virtually impassable, we stayed out of the thick cover and tried to concentrate on the edge cover nearby, but it didn’t work out as well as hoped.

> Our host said he saw more than 15 grouse while hunting alone or walking through the woods, but he only got one shot…. It was encouraging that he saw the birds in the kind of fairly open pines [spruce grouse?] that generally don’t hold many birds this time of year. This may well be the top of the grouse population boom that generally runs in 10-year cycles.

> I have to admit that I didn’t hunt as hard as I often do on opening weekend, mostly because I’m overdue for a knee replacement and can’t hunt as long as I used to do. My two English setters were in shape and ready to hunt, but I wasn’t. So for the first time in more than 35 years of avid grouse hunting, I didn’t get a single grouse opening weekend or even have a shot. I’m hoping the woodcock season [opened Sept. 25] will be as promising as the grouse hunting appears to be.

Category: 2010-11 reports, Hunt reports, MI, MN

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