Grouse and partridge seasons opened Saturday, Sept. 10, in North Dakota, and they get underway Saturday, Sept. 17, in Minnesota. Here are some notes about hunting seasons and prospects in the two states.
Favorable northwest outlook
Ruffed grouse hunters in northwest Minnesota have cause for optimism this fall, it seems, based on brood sightings at Red Lake and Thief Lake wildlife management areas, and Beltrami Island State Forest.
Spring drumming counts were up statewide at 1.9 drums per stop, compared with a statewide average of 1.3 drums per stop in 2021, the DNR reported in July. The Northwest region had the highest spring counts, at 2.9 drums per stop – up from 1.1 drums per stop last year – and the Northeast region tallied 2.0 drums per stop, up from 1.4 in 2021.
Drumming counts at Red Lake and Thief Lake saw similar increases.
“I think we are on track for a decent season – or at least I am personally optimistic,” said Charlie Tucker, manager of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area at Norris Camp, south of Roosevelt, Minn.
Staff at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County echoed that optimism in a newsletter posted Friday, Sept. 9. Drumming counts on both of the WMA’s two survey routes around Thief Lake and Randen Ridge were up from 2021.
“We had a wet spring, with a record amount of precipitation in May, but we began to dry out and warm up after that,” the newsletter indicated. “Staff have been observing broods while working in the field so that is a good sign for this fall.”
Barring heavy rains, access conditions should be good.
“We are relatively dry around here, so that bodes well for walking on forest trails,” said Tucker, the Red Lake WMA manager. “Folks shouldn’t have any extra worries about getting vehicles stuck or anything like that.”
Walking trails within Red Lake WMA and adjacent Beltrami Island State Forest should be accessible, but because of staffing issues, maintenance on some of those trails could be “either behind schedule or nonexistent,” Tucker said.