A Walk in the Woods – Grouse Game
It’s one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Crane Lake universe. A good grouse trail is shared only with family or close friends, and even then reluctantly. Maybe it’s because ruffed grouse are the most pursued gamebird in all of Minnesota. Or maybe it’s due to how challenging, yet rewarding a Minnesota grouse hunt can be. Perhaps it’s because of how downright great they are to eat after a successful hunt. No matter the reason, grouse are plentiful in the Crane Lake area, and it’s high time you got out after them.
Where Are The Best Grouse Trails?
Though most area hunters will be tight-lipped as to their whereabouts, there’s a few resources to get you started. With Minnesota being the top ruffed grouse producing state in the U.S., there’s a substantial focus on them by the MNDNR. General information on ruffed grouse habit, food sources, and population dynamics can be found on the DNR grouse page here - mndnr.gov/hunting/grouse.
It just so happens that the Crane Lake area is surrounded by vast tracts of public land, full of perfect habitat. While grouse can be found throughout Minnesota’s forests, in the Crane Lake area, mixed stands of timber containing both coniferous and deciduous trees at young ages are preferred. That includes recently clear-cut stands with some openings or trails, hazel brush, and dense stands of “broomstick popple.” While many areas satisfy those requirements, the best spots are found by wearing off some boot sole and learning via personal experience.
Top Notch Ruffed Grouse Management Area
You can get a head start by visiting the nearly 2,100 acre Ruffed Grouse Management area just down the road from Crane Lake in Buyck, MN - HERE. The National Ruffed Grouse Society has a hand in designating and maintaining these sites, and is a wealth of information on all things grouse. Become a member today and checkout their website ruffedgrousesociety.org. From there, find like areas that replicate quality grouse habitat, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better hunter, and having a successful grouse hunt.
While grouse hunting with a dog is extremely rewarding, it’s certainly not required to enjoy the fun. Slip quietly down forest trails, openings, and logging roads, looking for birds on the ground or listening for the flush of a ruffed grouse. These elusive birds love edge habitat, the food it offers, and sunlight provided by openings in the forest. You’ll surprise them individually, or in groups called coveys depending on the year or the hatch.
Ride The Trails
Another great way to take advantage of Minnesota grouse season, is to mix it in with one of Crane Lake’s favorite pastimes – ATV trail-riding. Cover ground, enjoy the hundreds of trail miles throughout Crane Lake, and mix in some grouse hunting along the way. In addition to seeing some great country, you’ll learn to quickly tune in the areas that grouse frequent, while getting into some great hunting fast. Make sure to review the regulations related to hunting grouse via machine on the MNDNR page - mndnr.gov/hunting/grouse.
Don't For Get The Map!
From there, all you’ll need is a good pair of boots, shotgun and ammo, along with a hunting license to enjoy the “king of gamebirds.” It’s also wise to know where you’re going, map your routes, and have some background information along the way. That’s where OnX comes in. For a small subscription fee, you’ll have ownership information to stay on public ground or request permission from private land. You’ll also have your locations and the ability to store waypoints among many other features, all overlaid on the most recent aerial photos. A GPS unit is great to find your way, but OnX has built in GPS with so much more information critical to the hunt. Check out more on OnX HERE.
The Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau can assist you with ground, water, or air transportation, lodging reservations, group planning, meeting facilities, and any special consideration required to accommodate a unique condition or disability.
If you would like more information about the Crane Lake area or to access our Visitors Guide, please visit our Contact Page. Thank you for your interest in our beautiful area.
Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau
7511 Gold Coast Road
Crane Lake, MN 55725
800-362-7405 · 218-993-2901