Early reports from Minnesota’s grouse season, which opened Saturday, indicated few hunters in the woods and few birds in the bag.
One dedicated grouse hunter I know hunted all morning and part of the afternoon on Saturday in his good spots and saw not a single bird, his wife said. Other reports were similar.
Monday’s reports from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers echoed the same theme. Here are some excerpts from their reports:
- Officer Randy Hanzal of Duluth reported that a few grouse were seen on some back roads, but very few grouse hunters were located.
- Officer Marty Stage of Ely worked grouse hunters and some lingering fishermen this past weekend. There were a few bear hunters out and some archery deer hunters. The success was slow for all these groups, but the weather was incredible.
- Troy Fondie, DNR conservation officer in Orr, reported the grouse opener was the poorest he has seen in recent years with no birds and very few hunters.
- Officer Brad Schultz of Cook reported that grouse hunting started out very slow with only a few hunters observed and no birds observed in the bag.
- Ruffed grouse hunters were much fewer in number than past years; however, most of those checked had at least one to two birds, which is not bad with the low population forecast and abundant foliage present, reported C.O. Don Bozovsky of Hibbing.
- Officer Matt Frericks of Virginia reported that he checked several grouse hunters on opening weekend. Every hunter checked reported seeing birds, and most hunters had at least one bird in the bag. The only hunters who didn’t have any birds were the ones who didn’t get out of their vehicles, he said.
- Hunting was decent near Ely, apparently. Officer Sean Williams of Ely reported that excellent weather most of the weekend gave hunters a good chance to hit the woods, and several had some birds to show for it.
- Officer Darin Fagerman of Grand Marais checked grouse hunters during opening weekend. Most people were hunting from the road and commenting that they weren’t seeing any birds in the thick cover while they were traveling 30 miles per hour down the road, he said. The people who got out of their vehicles and walked did much better. There are birds around, but many of the young birds are still in coveys.
- In the Tofte area, officer Thomas Wahlstrom checked grouse hunters who had had spotty success. The foliage is still thick in the woods. Hunters who got out of their vehicles and walked saw more birds than the typical road hunters, he said.