When it comes to bird hunting, Minnesota can’t be beat. With thousands of acres of natural habitat, the Chippewa National Forest in Northern Minnesota is the only place you need to explore to find plentiful game, including the Ruffed Grouse and the Woodcock. Big Timber Resort sits on the beautiful North Star Lake, and is surrounded by the far-stretching Chippewa National Forest.
Are you looking for the best Grouse hunting? Minnesota is consistently the top Ruffed Grouse-producing state in America. No other state compares when it comes to the number of Grouse harvested each fall and the amount of public hunting land containing the birds. We challenge you to find a better region. Bird hunters from all over the country come to the Chippewa National Forest to enjoy the challenge and thrill of hunting Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock.
There are nearly 300 miles of non-motorized trails in the Chippewa National Forest and many of these trails are very close to our resort and pass through some of the best Grouse habitat. These areas move through small, well-distributed timber stands and openings to provide the different aged forest habitat that allow Grouse and Woodcock to thrive.
The Ruffed Grouse is a native woodland bird that is about the size of a small chicken. The bird is noted for its fan-shaped tail marked by a broad, dark band. Some Ruffed Grouse are called “red-phased birds” if they have chestnut-colored tails, and the gray-phased birds have gray or slate-colored tails. The bird also has a concealed neck ruff that the male puffs out during courtship displays.
Male Ruffed Grouse make a well-known drumming noise that sounds like a distant lawnmower engine. They drum by beating their wings in the air, starting slowly as a series of thumps, and then, as beating speeds up, the sound resembles a drum or an engine. The drumming occurs on logs, boulders, tree roots, or other elevated sites known as “drumming logs.”
Grouse have pretty much the same proportion of white meat to dark meat as chickens do, but many think they taste a bit more gamey than chickens. The breast of a young Grouse is very tender and lean. You can use it in just about any chicken recipe, but be careful not to overcook.
Woodcocks have stocky bodies, cryptic brown and blackish plumage and long slender bills. Their eyes are located on the sides of their head, which gives them 360 degree vision.
As their common name suggests, they are woodland birds. They feed at night or in the evenings, searching for invertebrates in soft ground with their long bills. This habit and their unobtrusive plumage makes it difficult to see them when they are resting in the day.
Most have distinctive displays known as “roding”, usually given at dusk or dawn. This drumming is commonly heard within the context of a mating display, but it can also be displayed as means of distraction when conspecific intruders or potential predators are in the area — this can benefit male birds in attracting a female mate.
A beautiful walk through a recently logged forest ground is a good area to start your hunt. The forestry trails and roads will also produce a good harvest. Pay attention to fallen trees and brush where the birds like to hang out and be prepared for the startling flap when you least expect it!
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.
Book your next hunting trip at Big Timber Resort today!
Minnesota bird hunting season runs from the middle of September to the end of December each year. We are happy to provide the information you need to hunt Grouse and Woodcock up north below. You can also visit the MN DNR for more rules and regulations not mentioned here.
Ruffed Grouse season is September 19th, 2020 through January 3rd of 2021.
Woodcock season is September 19th, 2020 through November 2nd, 2020.
Licenses to hunt these birds are very inexpensive. Visit the DNR to apply for a license.
Big Timber Resort is the perfect place to stay for your next bird hunting trip. We have warm cabins year round to host you in. The Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock are right in our backyard. When you’re not hunting, you can stay in a cozy cabin on a beautiful lake during the best time of year: the changing fall leaves make for a breathtaking experience with fall colors at Big Timber Resort. We’ll see you in middle-to-late September! Book your cabin in advance!
New owners, Craig & Lisa Knutson are carrying on Big Timber's legacy of family fun and outdoor adventure. Their vision is to love and serve each and every guest.
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