As usual, whether or not hunters were hearing, seeing or shooting many ruffed grouse over opening week of the season depended on where they were and how hard they hunted — but reports from Minnesota conservation officers showed generally slow going.
That’s to be expected with about 97% of leaves still attached to trees and thick walls of foliage blocking much visual time between flush and out-of-range.
Here are some of those conservation officer reports that ranged from no grouse bagged to one hunter who shot a limit of five — and ranged from busy to few hunters out:
John Slatinski, Ray: “Grouse hunters are reporting very few flushes.”
Troy Fondie, Orr: “The grouse opener was very poor — few people and fewer birds. Heavy, dense leaf cover and the return of rain did not help efforts.”
Don Bozovsky, Hibbing: “Fewer ruffed grouse hunters than usual were afield for the opener, but most hunters checked had some birds, with one hunter showing a limit.”
Matt Frericks, Virginia: “The opening of the small-game season was extremely slow, and no birds were seen in grouse hunters’ bags.”
Sean Williams, Ely: “Thick underbrush and foliage on trees made for some tough hunting conditions for the small-game opener. Overall, the volume of hunters was way down from previous years, especially considering the break in the cool, rainy weather for the weekend. Bird numbers reported, however, seemed about average and the few hunters contacted reported seeing a good number while on foot, hiking little-used trails.”
Thomas Wahlstrom, Grand Marais: “The woods are still thick but the hunters who put time in and got off the beaten path were rewarded with some birds.”
Don Murray, Two Harbors: “A slow opener to the grouse season. Not many hunters reported seeing birds as cover remains thick.”
Thomas Sutherland, Grand Rapids: “Some ruffed grouse were seen by hunters, but with full foliage being present on the trees, many hunters only heard the elusive birds flying away.”
Jimmy Van Asch, Pengilly: “Grouse hunters were out in full force but reported limited success likely due to dense foliage cover.”
Taylor Hochstein, Hill City: “The small-game opener over the weekend brought a few grouse hunters out but success rates were low due to foliage on the trees.”
Andy Schmidt, Duluth: “Small-game opening weekend was relatively slow for hunters but there was a lot of ATV activity on roads and trails. Success rates were low due to foliage on the trees.”