• RECEIVE THE GIFTS MEMBERS SHARE WITH YOU HERE...THEN...CREATE SOMETHING TO ENCHANT OTHERS THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE

    You know what we all love...

    When you enchant people, you fill them with delight and yourself in return. Have Fun!!!

Sign in to follow this  
Shikellamy

First Time Grouse Hunting. Where?

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I have been lurking on this message board for a while now. My bird hunting has been limited to ducks and pheasant hunting in the southern part of state for the past couple of years. I purchased a started 1 yr old French Brittany in the spring and I have been working with her throughout the summer. She has a lot of potential, (Works close, retrieves to hand, great nose) and I can’t wait to see her do her thing in the woods.

I have never been grouse hunting before, but am sure once I do I’ll be hooked for life! I have read several posts about how to find them- walking trails, getting off the trail, finding clear cuts, old vs. new growth and transition areas, water / swampy areas etc… I have deer hunted for 20+ years, so I feel like I know my way around the woods and can find these areas.

Anyway, I am taking off of work 10/1-10/4 to head north for my first grouse hunting foray. Just me and my dog! I was hoping someone could tell me where a good destination might be. I am not looking for GPS coordinates or anything that gives away a specific secret spot. Rather, I am looking for some friendly advice on where to start. To be honest, I am a little intimidated. I live in the twin cities and I know I could travel to Blackduck for example, but where do I go when I get there. Is it as simple as looking for forest roads (no posted signs), parking and start hunting?

I thought about going up to the Chippewa NF and making a base camp there. I saw online that there are walking / hunting trails marked off and offer fair pursuit for the birds. Has anyone hunted these trails? Any recommendations on where to start?

I am hoping someone in this on-line community could provide me with some guidance. Any help you could provide, even through e-mail, would be greatly appreciated

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just returned from hunting the Chippewa NF and found plenty of trails and roads to walk. The first thing I suggest is getting a map from the forest supervisors office. I think they can be had for less than $10 and you will not regret the expense. The supervisors office is located in Cass Lake and is open M-F, so if you get there during the week you could pick one up yourself.

We found the leaves to be way to full still, but by Oct. 1 that should change. Not a lot of bird sightings, but the cover was still thick. It was nice to be out and about. Its no secret that grouse like young aspen, so if you find that along the walking trails, that's the place to be, usually. You have to get out and walk to use the dog, and that is the most fun anyway.

If there is a car parked at a trailhead, you move on to the next one. What you will not be able to determine is if someone is down the trail with an ATV, but don't be discouraged if you meet an ATV. I have on several occasions shot a grouse only minutes after seing the ATV. I'm sure they get a few too....., but drive by more than the guy with a good dog.

Also, the map doesn't show all of the trails, so driving around and getting familiar with an area is the best advice I can give. Like any new adventure, discovery is a lot of the fun.

One technique others use if there are two is to have about 20 yards between on the trail and work the dog back and forth between the hunters as they walk down the trail.

Have fun. By the way, if you get a Superior National Forest map you will find an incredible amount of trails to try there also. Anywhere from just north of Duluth to the BWCA there are grouse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check some of the county websites and look for either recreational opportunities or the county forestry/land department. They will most likely have a map of county managed lands with roads or access points. Stopping in an office on the way up and they might be able to tell you the age class of some stands of timber. Check at a local DNR office too, should find the same info. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CNF is a great place to go for someone just starting out, and someone unfamiliar with other areas. We shoot a lot of grouse every year in the Chipp...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for the replies! Chippewa NF is where I will go. I will definitely stop by the forest supervisors office for a map. Good advice and this will be my starting point. Maybe he/she can point me in the right direction. Not sure where to begin, but I geuss any trail head without a car/truck is as good as the next.

I geuss I expected to see some ATV hunters. Doesn't really bother me none. Plenty of woods to go around.

I love an adventure. My wife thinks I am crazy to be heading off on my own, to a place I have never been, for a couple of days. I am defintely looking forward to doing some exploring, enjoying the changing colors, hunting (killing a few would be a nice bonus)and bonding with my dog.

Quick question- Can I use lead up there or do I need steel?

Thanks again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, lead shot is allowed up in the Chippewa. This will be my 20th year grouse hunting up there (Turning 30 early in October), and have had many good years up there, followed by years of not much luck. Like has been said, hit the trails hard, and you will be rewarded, if not then it is still better then being at home doing nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife thinks I'm crazy too......... I'm still trying to convince her I NEED a solo trip to the BWCA.

Solo trips can be very rewarding or very boring. The beauty is, you only have yourself to blame if its boring. I'd say go for it. Have fun and good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your dog isn't bad with other dogs, I would be willing to meet up with you with my GSP's and show you some areas to work over. I could possibly just meet you at your base camp or in town as well and go over a map with you. I don't want you to come up to our area and go home bummed out... wink

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very generous offer Matt. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you. My dog gets along well socially with other dogs, although I have not personally hunted her with other dogs...so I am not sure how she would react. I assume she would be fine?! This is kind of our maiden voyage as far as hunting goes.

I tried to do a PM, but it says I do not have access to this feature(It might have something to do with work). I will try again at home.

If you can send me an e-mail offline, I can provide my cell number. Probably the best way to get in touch. My e-mail address is:

L T G o d l e y @ M S N . C O M

Thankas again, everyone, for the advice!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a question and it might help him out as well. I was wondering if you stick to the ridges mostly, next to swamps, and times of the day. I have hunted them before north of Thief River Falls and we stuck to the ridges for ruff grouse and near the swamp edges or low areas for the sharpies. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks!

Ryan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ridges and swamp edges are the best spots for ruffies by far, especially in the Chippewa where you've got so much land to investigate.

Time of day depends so much on the waether, time of year, dogs or lone, etc.. I like to stick to trails or near trails in the early a.m. so the dogs can scent birds from there. Most of the day you'll find me in the dark deep woods, and back to trail edges in the evenings.

Poplar stands are good, oaks when the 'corns are dropping, fallen timber areas, 2-3 year old clear cuts, hazlenut groupings, my brother's apple trees, etc... They can hide anywhere, but you've got the right idea to get yourself started...

Sharpies are an entirely different breed. They're much like a pheasant in the fact that they roost in CRP or the like, and feed on prairie foods (i.e. berries, buds, etc..) and crops. Find a beanfield near a sunflower field, with CRP or managed prairie grass nearby, and you'll be golden. It's tough finding public areas that hold good numbers of birds however, so knowing people and having access to private lots is the best.

Shikellamy, e-mail will be to you tomorrow a.m.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the first timer good luck to ya. You said you'll be up in the balckduck area. Will you be going up highway six? if so there is good hunting off the crooked lake twnsp atv trails. We have a place in outing. Plenty of grouse in the area just have to put in some hours walking, you've got the right idea with the clearcuts and other info on your post. Listen for them aswell they make a high woop noise when they get nervous then they will run a little ways and stop if they think their not being followed. Had a buddy of mine say "You here that frog" mind you it was mid to late oct. but anyway we had just stopped the wheelers to take a break and he heard something and it ended up being a grouse, walked into the woods and sure enough he was walking away from me but just not fast enough..HA HA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cass County has a very good HSOforum where you can view maps with lots of good info if you'll be in that area. The BEST source I've found is the MN DNR's Forest Road and Trail Reclassification webpage, seriously it has maps for every state forest and some counties tax forefit land that show most of the trails&roads. There are a tremendous number of links. There is another forest page that will show you stand make up, age, etc. I will be in that area October 2&3 if you would like to go out together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Here are some pictures from this years trip!
    • How do you keep ants off your feeders, especially hummingbird and oriole feeders? I've tried Toro and Raid sprays on the post but it seeks the birds don't like that smell either and i don't see many for a while. Has anyone else experienced that? Any good ideas?
    • I should’ve looked closer - I have an eyes open pic too. 😌  Tough to tell sometimes on my phone screen.  
    • Among other wilds that have moved into our urban areas, we can now add loons.  There is a breeding pair on the lake formerly known as Calhoun, mostly staying on the west and northwest sides.  But there is also a bunch of yearlings fishing the east side, numbering maybe six or seven and so unafraid that they come right up to the 36th Street dock and try to steal suckers being used for musky bait.  Maybe the call of the wild is not really so alien to the South side of Minneapolis, but it looks like the loons have moved in and can be heard calling from time to time. 
    • Sounds like you guys gave her heck up there to find them. I'd be praying thanks, too if I got that one on! ☺️
    • Quick recap:   Weather was too darn “nice”!  Upper 80’s - 90’s; no wind to speak of; mostly sunny. Water temps were anywhere from 64 - 71 depending on location and day.   We looked the lake over from end to end, marking up our map and returning to some places where we saw fish either later the same day or a couple days later.  We could literally see the transition from spawn to post spawn happening during our stay.  Being new to both muskie fishing and that lake, we spent time in dead water as much as good water but feel like we got a pretty good handle on how to go about setting up a more efficient return visit.  It was a lot work and long hours but I’d go back this weekend if I could so I must’ve enjoyed it.   A few pics as hoped for:
    • big dave 2 and leech, darn good lookin meals!!!!  Dave have a good weekend!!!!
    • Ok Dave have a good weekend. Hope you get over the whole butt hurt Leech deal! Not sure where you got that I don't like folks smoking or grilling things?  I know I do enough. Have fun! 🙂  
    • Heavy rains across northwestern Wisconsin last weekend and early this week have flooded some roads and caused washouts on some highways, roads, state parks, forests and trails. According to the National Weather Service the area has received 7 to 12 inches of rain from Friday through Monday.Several park system property or portions of properties are closed due flooding. Amnicon Falls State Park, closed temporarily but has reopened, though some roads, trails and observation areas remain closed. Pattison State Park is open for camping only; all trails, observation areas, picnic and day-use areas are closed. There are washouts on the dam that forms Interfalls Lake and Highway 35 over the dam is closed. A campground and horse trail are closed at Governor Knowles State Forest and the day use areas along the river at Interstate Park are underwater.Water was roaring over Little Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park.Photo credit: Gervase ThompsonAll rivers in the region are running extremely high. The falls at both Amnicon and Pattison are roaring, but road closures mean observing the falls now is challenging. The Bois Brule and Flambeau rivers are high enough that some canoe launches and campsites are underwater. The water is making its way downstream and the Lower Wisconsin River is running very high with all sandbars submerged and canoeing and kayaking not recommended. The river is expected to crest Muscoda this weekend at 40,000 cubic feet per second. .
    • I'm still going to smoke this fatty while camping this weekend whether Leech likes it or not.....😋       See you fellers on Monday........