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Hunting grouse in Mn with GSP for the first time – need advice

7 posts in this topic

I am heading up to Mn last weekend of October to link up with a good friend and do some grouse hunting. We both have German Shorthaired Pointers, but have not used them for grouse hunting before. Both dogs have been used to hunt other birds and are strong pointers.

We are planning to hunt in the area of Bemidji – Grand Rapids, exact locations to be decided. None of us have hunted grouse before, and have not hunted in Minnesota before. We are both experienced hunters and outdoorsmen, but are new to this part of the states and grouse hunting. I have used the “search function” and have already picked up a lot of good tips. I also bought a book about grouse hunting that I will study. And then I was hoping to get some good advice from you local experts.

1. Are there any special precautions regarding the dogs (diseases, bugs, snakes, animals, etc) in the Northern part of Mn?

2. Are there any areas that are better suited for hunting with a pointing dog? I understand the grouse is hiding in the thick, but I would expect open terrain with pockets of thick vegetation would be more suitable???

3. What is the best time of the day for the dogs (when is the birds holding better, when is the scent strongest)?

4. How close can the dog typically get before the grouse run away/flushes?

5. We do not mind to walk, any areas where there is not that many roads, ATV trails, etc?

6. What kind of weather can we expect in late October?

7. We would like to camp out to have some really quality hunting and outdoor time in the wilderness of MN. Enjoying the outdoors and working with the dogs in a nice terrain is more important than number of bagged birds. Any recommendations regarding areas that would facilitate this?

All advice, tips, comment that can/will point us in the right direction and make this a enjoyable and memorial event for us and our GSPs are highly appreciated!

Semper Fi,


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1. No snakes that you need to worry about, bugs nope..maybe some end of the year mosquitos, but other than that watch out for brown recluse spiders, but they hide in wood piles and stuff like that, so unless your sticking your hand in places it doesn't need to be, you'll be fine. There are bears... but probably wont see one.

2. They say grouse like young aspen, but the thick is generally good.

3. I'd think anytime is good for the dogs... but maybe mid morning after the dew is down.

4. I've been 5-10 feet away from a grouse before it fluttered away... and they go fast.

5. I couldn't answer that better than some local at some outdoor store.

6. Mid october will have cold nights, possibly down to 40 degrees, and days as hot at 70. All depending on rain. Wind picks up in the fall as well.

7. Camping is always an option for a Marine. So is a cabin.

Have fun

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1.No snakes. There are some ticks but it sounds like they are better this year than in years past. Some Frontline would be good, try to get it on a week or so before the trip. You should check them at the end of the hunt since some of them carry Lyme's Disease. Otherwise you can by a spray bottle of Frontline and apply it to them if you see ticks. It works like the topical but requires rubber gloves to apply and it needs to be sprayed on and rubbed in.

2. Many people walk trails from old logging cuts. There is clover and other food that grows on/near the trails that grouse like to eat. They also like Grey Dogwood berries, wild grapes, etc. Most of the time they'll be out in the mornings an evenings on the trails. They are a little lazy so you don't have to be out at first light so an hour or so after first shooting is allowed is a decent time to start. Typically they like aspen that is about as big around as your forearm but you can find them in other areas as well. It's also recommneded to hunt just off the trails as they will usually fly into the woods when danger approaches.

3. The morning is usually better for scent because of the early morning dew/frost but if they are on the ground they are usually browsing for fodd so they'll be moving around and leaving scent.

4. It's always best to have a dog that stops on first scent. It's been my experience that grouse are not very accepting of a dog that creeps, isn't steady. Some grouse hold better than others but they don't usually do it for long. They run more than most people realize so if you don't get a bird up after a point work the area to see if they've ran off. Also, they sometimes fly into trees to elude predators so look up every so often.

5. The MN DNR has lots of info on public land. Some places to look into are the National and State Forests. There are lots of trails that can eb hunted and many offer camping. You can also buy some PRIM maps that show public hunting lands.

6. It depends on where your at, the farther North you go it'll get colder at night so some of the mornings it could be a bit cold. You may even get some frost or light snow but it will most likely melt off quickly with the daylight if you see either.

7. One area to recommend is the Cippewa National Forest. They have camping but not all of it is open all year round. There should be information on that as well on the DNR HSOforum.

I am by no means an expert but I think some of this may help you.


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If your dogs are steady and whoa trained they should be able to pick up pointing grouse, they are a little more tricky than a pheasant. Hunting grouse with a pointing dog is great but the dog has to point pretty far off or the birds will flush. There are grouse in all of the areas you listed and they are found in all types of cover. The thicker the cover and the farther off the beaten trail the better the hunting. I run a beeper collar on my setter because the woods are really thick most of the time, and you can hear the dog and not see him. The beepers don't bother the grouse at all. Grouse will fustrate a lot of pointing dogs so be prepared to let the dogs get used to the grouse. We do have ticks up here and if there a lymes vacination avaliable in NC I could get it for the dogs before coming up. It is a two part shot and it takes 3 weeks before it is effective.

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Well said Tybo and 2thepoint.

I could write a novel, but darn work always gets in the way. I'll do this quickly,

A couple of things:

Be prepared for you and your dog to get a little frustrated times. Have patience, there are plenty of birds once you find the right habitat. Really the best handling dog for grouse is one that is "experienced". Not better way to say it. Grouse are definitely fidgity. So let your dog work, they'll figure it out. You'll probably get into woodcock as well, they hold great for a pointing dog and are fun sport as well.

A beeper collar is must. A ranging dog can disappear from view very quickly. That doesn't mean they are too far away, however. Just because you can’t see your dog doesn't mean it isn't working for you. Nothing better than hearing the beeper on point, walking into thick stuff and seeing your dog plugged in! As 2thepoiint said, if the bird doesn't flush continue to hunt the area, usually they just moved off or jumped into a tree. Set the collar on a mode that locates every several seconds and then either changes tone or beeps faster when the dog points. Bells can work too, the only problem is when the dog stops, so does the sound of the bell. Then you ask yourself, where did I last hear it? Then... did the dog run too far for me to here it? or is it on point? The woods can be god-awful thick in paces, but that doesn't always mean your bird dog is too far away.

Have a great time! Grouse are one fine bird to go after with a dog!

Good Luck, HB

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Thanks for all replies with very useful information. We have plenty of bugs down here in NC to include ticks, heart worm, etc, so that is already taken care of.

Based on your advice and the other threads for “first timers” it seems like Chippewa is a good place to start. I am leaning towards establishing a FOB somewhere central in CNF and then hunt/explore the surrounding areas. Look very much forward to get up there late October, leave some birds for us smile

Semper fi,


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