Hibbing Mn Ruffed Grouse Hunt October 3rd 2023 4 birds


We got out early before the wind and heat hit again today.  We went north of Hibbing MN.  I haven’t had a chance to hunt this area in two years.  I was a little bit surprised to have trucks parked in the first two spots that we went to.  I guess the reports of good bird numbers are bringing out the hunters even on hot weekdays.

I put the 11 year old Tasha down at the first spot that we could hunt at.  It is a little bit older than what I would think of as prime but within a 100 yards of starting she went on point and I was able to take the bird with one shot.  It was in thinner cover than what we have been moving birds out of.  After another 1/2 hour we were ready to turn around and head back to the truck and she started to work scent and this one held for a moment before flushing close to the trail.  I was able to also take this one.  On the way back we had a bumped bird and I did not connect on it.

Tasha got in just over an hour at 70 degrees and we moved 3 birds and took two.

The second spot was Val’s and this one looked better.  Unfortunately we had a tailwind to start and had two bumped birds on the way out.  We turned around at the 45 minute mark.  I wasn’t too optimistic that we would see anything since we had just hunted the trail.  Val ended up working wider than on the way out and got a point within 10 minutes.  She was 70 yards off the trail and I was a little surprised that the bird was still holding for her.  I was able to take her on the flush and Val made the retrieve.  We got a second point about 200 yards short of the truck and it was also near the trail and I had another day shot.

We ended the day as it was creeping into the high 70s and the wind was also picking up.  We didn’t move any woodcock today, but on the plus side most of the shots were the easiest that we’ve had so far this season.


Bird Hunting in Wisconsin for Ruffed Grouse, Woodcock, Pheasant, and Dove

Gabby Zaldumbide is Project Upland's managing editor. 

Wisconsin’s natural beauty caught my eye as a young child. Images of Devil’s Lake State Park and Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area are still vivid in my mind, even though I haven’t been to either of those places in over a decade.

I continued to admire southern Wisconsin’s humble beauty while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During my junior year, I helped a PhD student named Amy with her ruffed grouse research project. We took a trip up to the Sandhill State Wildlife Area to collect grouse scat one weekend, and while hiking around, Amy pointed out several drumming logs she’d found while working on her research project. Although I didn’t lay eyes on the king of the uplands while helping her with data collection, just being in its presence was enough to excite me.

I volunteered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in my senior year of undergrad. I stocked pheasants for them in Dane County’s public lands, something I will never forget. I know planted birds are a completely different deal than wild ones; however, watching roosters explode out of my truck and coast all the way to the treeline is a glorious sight for any bird nerd to behold.

As a future bird hunter, I aspire to return to my home state to hunt ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and pheasant someday. I’d love to take another look at the natural areas that were important to me as a kid through the lens of a bird hunter. It’ll be an honor to join the ranks of other midwestern bird hunters who see Wisconsin’s incredible value.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are one of the most popular species to hunt in Wisconsin. They fill the state’s northern forests. One of the best areas to hunt for ruffed grouse is Price County. Price County and its 300,000 acres of hunting land is known to many as the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World.” There are other places to hunt ruffed grouse in Wisconsin, of course. However, it’s worth making it up to Price County if you’re hunting birds in Wisconsin.

The ruffed grouse season is broken up into two zones. Zone A, which is west of U.S. Highway 151, is open from September 16 through January 7, 2024. The daily bag limit is five birds, and the possession limit is 15 birds. Zone B is in the southeastern corner of the state. It is open from October 14 through December 8 with a daily bag limit of two birds and a possession limit of six birds. 

Read the full Project Upland article for more info on Wisconsin Bird Hunting



Grouse Hunting Dogs: The 10 Best Breeds

Six pointing breeds and four flushers round out our picks. Now let the fur fly…

Grouse hunters are a notoriously opinionated bunch. Put more than two of them in the same room and sure as sunrise they’ll find something to disagree about. More likely, they’ll find lots to disagree about. The best shotguns are a bone of endless contention. But if you really want to see the fur fly, stand up in a roomful of grouse hunters and say, “When it comes to grouse hunting dogs, I think breed _____ is the best.” Before you do, identify the closest exit, because objects will be thrown at you.

Today, that’s all changed. Flushing dogs now enjoy a large and enthusiastic following, the Continental breeds are an established force, and the Irishman and the Gordon have made heroic comebacks as grouse hunting dogs. It isn’t that the lights of the pointer and the English setter have dimmed; it’s just that they are no longer the only stars in the sky. William Harnden Foster wouldn’t know what to make of it.

To be sure that you do know what to make of it when it comes time to choose your next pup, here, in no particular order, are snapshots of the top 10 best grouse hunting dogs, 21st century style.

1. English Setter: The Traditional Grouse Dog






This breed remains the classic choice for traditional-minded grouse hunters—although the words “English setter grouse dog” can connote very different animals depending on who’s listening. There are low-to-the-ground, wispily feathered 35-pound English setters that smoke through the woods like missiles, and tall, extravagantly coated 70-pounders who go about their business with the unhurried formality of Downton Abbey butlers. The former are generally known as the field-trial type, the latter as the Ryman/Old Hemlock type. The legendary Tom Prawdzik of Clare, Michigan, believed that an English setter somewhere between those extremes—wide-ranging, but with an easy, all-day gait—was the most “efficient” dog for ruffed grouse hunting. He had 50 years of meticulously kept records to back up that opinion too.

2. Gordon Setter: The Handsomest Grouse Dog

Perhaps the handsomest of all the sporting breeds, the “black-and-tan” gets its name from the fourth Duke of Gordon, the Scottish laird who stabilized the breed’s type in the early 19th century. A steady, level-headed worker who operates at close range and rarely screws up, the Gordon was a great favorite among market hunters—about the best recommendation possible if your aim is to put birds in the bag. But for many years, as bird-dog fashion changed and the Gordon’s breeding was increasingly co-opted by the show crowd (the same fate that befell the Irish setter), sportsmen who’d have loved to hunt grouse with a Gordon had a devil of a time finding one that could hunt. Thankfully, the hunting Gordon is back, and while you won’t find one behind every bush, they’re out there if you make the effort to look.

3. Pointer: The Speedster

No breed elicits stronger opinions than the pointer. As the saying goes, there are really just two kinds of bird-dog people: those who think pointers are the only dogs worth feeding, and those who are scared to death of them. The way I look at it, the pointer is the Formula One racecar of the pointing-dog set: capable of jaw-dropping performance in the hands of those who know what they’re doing, and a wreck waiting to happen in the hands of those who don’t. Both Burton Spiller and William Harnden Foster, two of the most hallowed figures in the lore and literature of grouse hunting, were diehard pointer men. The greatest pointer man of all, Robert G. Wehle of Elhew Kennels fame, was a grouse hunter, and it’s no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of pointers used to chase ruffs boast a preponderance of Elhew blood.

See all 10 breeds and the complete Field and Stream article




Ruffed Grouse Management Areas - MN

Ruffed Grouse Management Areas

Ruffed Grouse Management Areas (RGMAs) are a great destination for the hunter looking to experience grouse and woodcock hunting. RGMAs are located in areas that have good potential for producing grouse and woodcock and are managed to promote suitable habitat conditions for these species.

Ruffed Grouse Management Areas:

  • range in size from 400 to 4,800 acres.
  • occupy over 100,000 acres in total, in 49 designated locations.
  • contain 184 miles of hunter walking trails.
  • allow dogs.

Find an RGMA

Visit the MN DNR site for mapping

Hunter Information

Respect private property and verify public hunting areas by observing boundary signs.

RGMAs are good places for upland forest bird hunting, yet they do receive considerable hunting pressure from bird hunters. RGMAs are also open to other types of hunting and recreation.

Note: There are thousands of acres of state forest and WMA land that, although not designated as RGMAs, have ongoing timber management that provides excellent ruffed grouse habitat.
Hunting in State Forests »

RGMA Management

RGMAs are maintained in partnership with government land owners, The Ruffed Grouse Society, volunteers, and by DNR wildlife managers. Because of the variety of ownerships and funding for maintenance, amenities and conditions can vary among locations. RGMAs may be managed by these various agencies through cooperative agreements or by a single agency.

Trail Information

Enhancements on the trails vary. Some feature clover planted along the trail; others have forest openings that tend to attract wildlife. Some are mowed annually. Many of the trails follow the courses of old logging roads. Forests change over time as the succession of forest growth progresses. Because of this natural cycle, the forest along the trails and the wildlife that inhabit the area change with time.

Thanks! Many RGMAs and this online resource were developed with funding from Ruffed Grouse Society opens in a new browser tab.

Attend Game Fair MN for Free. Volunteer with RGS

Game Fair Volunteers Needed

The Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society will be at Game Fair on August 11-13 & 18-20, and we need your help staffing our booth!

All volunteers receive free admission to Game Fair.

Anyone can volunteer, and you'll meet local RGS & AWS members, spread the message of forest habitat, hang out with bird dogs and learn more about what our partners are doing.
Never been to Game Fair? Check it out! It's like the state fair for outdoors folk - with activities for all ages.