There's more to Minnesota than 10,000 lakes. Try 11 million acres of public hunting land, 528 designated hunting areas in the ruffed grouse range covering nearly 1 million acres, more than 40 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunter walking trails, several just miles from Wilderness Lodge.
Minnesota offers some of the best grouse hunting in the country. Even in down years of the grouse population's boom-and-bust cycle, hunters in other states still envy our flush rates and hunter success rates remain high.
Grouse already know Minnesota is the perfect place, and hunters know Wilderness Lodge has the perfect accommodations! It's time you did, too.
09/17/16 - 11/30/16 Sharptailed Grouse season
09/17/16 - 01/01/17 Ruffed and Spruce Grouse, Hungarian Partridge season
Book 3 or more
nights and pay only
$150 per night
for up to 3 hunters
in a Luxury Log Cabin
Offer Good Sept. - Oct Only
When a ruffed grouse flushes from underfoot, the
loud sound can startle even experienced outdoors
people. This woodland bird is the most popular of
Minnesota's upland game birds. Noted for its muffled
drumming sounds during the spring mating season,
the ruffed grouse is present in Minnesota forests
from Iowa to Manitoba.
General description: During courtship, ruffed grouse display banded fan-shaped tails. Males also have a
concealed neck ruff (hence the name "ruffed grouse") that they display during courtship. Color phases
range from gray to chestnut. In winter, ruffed grouse have comb-like fringes on their toes that, like snowshoes, allow for easy travel on snow.
Length: About 12 inches.
Weight: About 1.5 pounds.
Sounds: Each spring, male ruffed grouse perform a
mating ritual that sounds like the beating of a distant
drum. The male "drums" by compressing air beneath
its wings. The bird makes the sound in the hopes of
attracting a female grouse. Most males drum on a log,
but they may also stand on roots and boulders.
The peak of the mating season is late April. Nests are placed
on the ground, usually in dense forest in a depression next
to a tree trunk or stump. Hens lay about 10 to 14 eggs that
hatch in 23 days. The male grouse has no parenting role. The
chicks stay with the hen until late September and are fully grown in 16 weeks.
Ruffed grouse favor the buds and twigs of aspen but also eat the fruits of dogwood, mountain ash, and thornapple. They also eat rose hips and the green leaves of clover, strawberries, bunchberry, aspen and some ferns. Insects are the primary food of ruffed grouse chicks.
Many animals hunt ruffed grouse, including birds of prey such as goshawk, great horned owl, and various mammals such as fox, fisher and bobcat.
Habitat and range
Ruffed grouse are found in forests from southeastern to northwestern Minnesota. Young to middle-aged aspen forests provide the best habitat. Alder lowlands and patches of gray dogwood are especially attractive to ruffed grouse in summer and fall. During winter, ruffed grouse spend nearly all of their time in snow burrows to stay warm and avoid predators. A ruffed grouse lives most of its life within just a few acres.
In the Chippewa National Forest you will find 298 miles of non-motorized trails. A few of these trails pass through some of the best grouse habitat in the Chippewa National Forest. These areas move through small, well-distributed timber stands and openings to provide the different aged forest habitat on which many game animals thrive.
A five mile trail located four miles north of Wilderness Lodge off Forest Road 2423, Jingo Lake Trail, also offers an impoundment with abundant waterfowl and wetlands. A nine mile logging trail located 15 miles southwest of Bigfork on Forest Road 2402 weaves between mature aspen stands and clover.
In addition to offering excellent grouse and deer hunting opportunities, these trails also provide excellent hiking, cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the year.
Population and management
Ruffed grouse populations rise and fall at intervals of about 10 years. Many other species of wildlife such as snowshoe hares also cycle at 10-year intervals. The causes of these cycles are unknown. In Minnesota, the annual hunter harvest varies from 250,000 to more than one million ruffed grouse. Hunting does not affect ruffed grouse populations either at the top or bottom of their population cycles.
Ruffed grouse are loners. Unlike most other game bird species, which form coveys or flocks, ruffed grouse spend most of their adult life alone, except during the mating season.