REGIONAL— The 2023 ruffed grouse season looks to be one of the best in northern Minnesota in years, thanks to what appears to be outstanding reproduction thanks to a warm, dry month of June. …
REGIONAL— The 2023 ruffed grouse season looks to be one of the best in northern Minnesota in years, thanks to what appears to be outstanding reproduction thanks to a warm, dry month of June.
Most young grouse hatch in late May or early June and they’re most vulnerable to harsh weather conditions in their first few weeks.
Cold, wet weather, which used to be relatively common in May and June in northern Minnesota, has become much less frequent and that appears to be working to the benefit of ruffed grouse numbers in the region.
“I think grouse hunting should be phenomenal this year,” said Jessica Holmes, DNR wildlife manager in the Tower area. “We’re getting really good brood number reports.”
The 2023 season gets underway this Saturday, Sept. 16 and Holmes predicts that hunters will find plenty of birds in the woods.
With abundant public land, hunters in the DNR’s Tower work area will find plenty of places to hunt. The work area also maintains 83 miles of hunter walking trails, which were recently mowed in preparation for the season. Those are likely to provide excellent hunting opportunity for hunters looking to work some exercise for themselves and their dogs into their hunting plans. You can find the locations of trails in the area on the DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/hwt/index.html.
Opening weekend should be a great time to be out in the woods, with the fall colors starting to pop, particularly the reds and oranges of the maples. Conditions are drier than usual in the woods, which will help improve accessibility. The current weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and seasonal temperatures.
The best grouse hunting is still a couple weeks off, after the leaf fall which makes the birds easier to spot and track on a flush.
Minnesota has the well-deserved reputation as the nation’s top state for grouse hunting, with an annual harvest that ranges from 200,000 in a poor year, to 500,000 during a peak year.
Ruffed grouse numbers were known to fluctuate on a 10-11-year cycle for many years, but that cyclical pattern seems to have diminished in recent years, possibly due to the changing climate.
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