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Grouse opener reports vary from 'a non-event' to 'great success'

Success varied across northern Minnesota, with breezy conditions and lots of cover in the woods.

File: Grouse
Grouse reports from opening weekend of the 2021 hunting season in Minnesota ranged from "a non-event'' to "great success." Tyler Schank / 2020 file / Duluth News Tribune

Success on Minnesota’s Sept. 18-19 ruffed grouse opening weekend appears to have varied greatly across northern Minnesota, with some good reports, a few great reports and some pretty bad reports.

The weekly conservation officer roundup showed that a still thick understory in the forest, high winds and a relatively low point in the grouse population cycle may have kept many hunters from seeing or shooting many birds. Yet some officers reported many happy hunters with plenty of birds in the bag.

Here’s a sprinkling of their reports:

CO Curtis Simonson, International Falls: “With the small-game opener this weekend, a lot of people hit the trails. Hunters reported seeing low numbers of birds. The high winds and green forests were factors in hunters not having much success in the area.”

CO Troy Fondie, Orr: “Grouse hunting was a non-event, with few hunters observed.”

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CO Aaron Larson, Tower: “Over the small game opener, fewer-than-expected hunters were out and about. Many of the hunters were finding limited success.”

CO Marc Johnson, Hibbing: “Hunters experienced mixed results over opening weekend, with lots of cover remaining in the woods.”

CO Sean Williams, Ely: “The small-game opener was well-attended with higher-than-normal numbers of hunters seen in the Ely area. Although drought conditions made for less-than-usual underbrush for the small-game opener, very few grouse were reported taken by hunters.”

CO Kylan Hill, Tofte: “Grouse hunters saw great success as Hill checked multiple groups who were close to a limit.”

CO Thomas Sutherland, Grand Rapids: “... quite a few hunters out and about … With hunters seeing many young grouse over this past summer, early success seems good and may lead to a very promising fall for hunters.”

CO Kipp Duncan, Duluth: “The small-game opener was very busy. Many people were walking and riding ATVs on area trails looking for grouse.”

CO Keith Olson, Duluth: “The beautiful weather and decent numbers of ruffed grouse produced many smiles and happy hunters.”

CO Andy Schmidt, Duluth: "... worked areas of heavy small-game hunting activity, with moderate success observed."

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CO Ryan Brown, Karlstad: "Small-game hunters reported a low number of grouse being spotted in the area, but some mild harvest success."

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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