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2021 Great Lakes Grouse Talk & Reports


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Got out yesterday after settling in at at the cabin.  Too close to sunset to travel much so jumped onto some county land about a 1/2 mile away. 

 

Flushed two grouse and a woodcock in about an hour of field time.  The Woodcock presented the only opportunity but not open until the 25th so no shots fired. A little surprised we moved all three birds on the higher and drier ground and saw nothing in the low areas.

 

Was on the warm side yesterday so the boys took advantage of a fresh puddle on the way back to the truck.  Temperature looks better today so hoping the rain holds off this morning and we can take advantage.

 

 

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I have been out and about, but man do I hate this hot weather.  The dogs are hanging tongue and I have been soaked head to toe from sweat on most outings.  I can't wait to see 50 degrees for a high. 

Had to go on a little road trip this morning to pick up some stuff my wife bought online. Our trip took us through Park Falls, WI. You know the place, Ruffed Grouse Capital etc., which kind of rubbed

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RuffChaser

I moved 6gr and 2WC in a few hours on the MN opener last weekend. My hunting buddy moved 11gr in another area just West of where I was. I will be out again Saturday for the second best opener, WC. I will probbaly be out some mid-week after work as my closest covers to my work are mostly WC covers.

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doodlecrazy

Hit a cover on Tuesday that had knee high water in it last year and this year you could have hunted in in flip flops. Never moved a grouse and the woodcock we did find were in a little tiny 100 yard area within this 80 acre cover. Morgan cut the very tip of his ear and I couldn't get it stopped so that ended our day after only one spot. Yesterday was HOT but we hunted a quick spot in the morning before I had to go into work. Getting on the old side for woodcock; it always amazes me how old the cover can get in such a short amount of time, but grouse perfection in my experience. Only moved 3 grouse and a couple woodcock but was able to connect on a nice juvenile male with a golden #8 to the head. My main goal this year is to keep Morgan healthy since his seasons have been cut short the past three years. 

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Good news is that in east central Minnesota I'm not seeing too many ticks.

 

Bad news is that I'm not happening upon very many woodcock.  Usually I find lots of residents early without looking for them, but that hasn't been the case for me so far.

 

Grouse numbers seem... fair to middling.

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doodlecrazy
29 minutes ago, caleb said:

Good news is that in east central Minnesota I'm not seeing too many ticks.

 

Bad news is that I'm not happening upon very many woodcock.  Usually I find lots of residents early without looking for them, but that hasn't been the case for me so far.

 

Grouse numbers seem... fair to middling.

Same for me. 

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Steelheadfred

I don't know what to think of the northern lower,  not finding a lot grouse,  but it's been hot and when not hot very wet. 

 

Due to heat I'm hunting mornings,  which is never as productive for me as evenings. Birds not moving much due to heat.  

 

I'd love a consistent week of weather to get a real feel for what is and isn't available. 

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Between the morning rain and afternoon Zoom calls only made it out for an hour or so late on Friday.  Moved three grouse but no shots fired.

 

Yesterday I timed our morning hunt pretty well and we moved 10 grouse in about 3-hours. Got some great dog work from Ndi and knocked down the first bird of the year on a tough crossing shot in the trees.  The second shot was a a bit of lay up on a young bird flying down the edge of the trail.

 

Going to blame the chanterelle thread for not coming home with a third grouse.  Was squatted down trying to ID a patch of mushrooms when Ndi got the last grouse of the morning up.  Bird flew right across the trail but I could never catch up.

 

A pic of the grouse and my dads old Light 1100 20 gauge.  That gun had taken a good number of Indiana Bob's and some pheasants for him over the years but turns out it handles Ruff's pretty efficiently too.

 

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To add salt to the wound on the last miss the mushrooms were actually Jack O' Lanterns and not edible.  They did add some character to the picture though.

 

Primary take away from my limited hunting time so far is it feels like there was an OK hatch this year.  Birds have mostly been active in the younger cover on higher ground but not surprisingly in a warm, dry year like this the best action has at least been within the zip code of a low wet area....

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I’ve been out a few times this season so far. Opening day we moved 16 grouse and 4 woodcock in a loop behind the house. Got two grouse that day. Monday was in the 90’s so I went fishing and caught two lake trout on Superior. Wednesday I hooked up with an old friend and we hunted a spot from the past. It had been logged about 10 years ago so is grown back pretty well now. We moved 20 grouse and 10 woodcock. Got three that day. Could have killed a pack sack full of woodcock but I don’t care to eat them so I don’t shoot at them. Dogs love pointing them though, so I always praise them for good work. Yesterday I had to work but my boy took the pups out back and moved 17 grouse and 12 woodcock along the crick. Some were probably reflushes though. He got one. It’s still very thick up here with the leaves up. Odds will swing in the guns favor once the foliage falls. Have had one hard frost morning. 

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So, after writing the report above I decided to grab the old 870 16ga and take a quick walk behind the house. I’m on ambulance duty so I can’t go far. My boy said he flushed three birds on the hill just before he got back but was so whooped that he was too slow to get on them. Well, the dogs remembered where they were so I went and found two of them. Got this one. Beauty of a bronze bird with red ruff even. Not bad for a few minutes behind the house. 

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Yesterday was lots of almosts, but today was better here in the Great Lakes region.

 

Our friend Sarah visited with her new Syren 28 gauge in tow, and we even managed to show our puppy what it’s all about when we got back today.

 

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As many have commented it’s been too hot, which means morning hunting, which means less points.  Seems to be the norm for Septembers lately.

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I snuck in an 8 day trip to the prairies to hunt sharpies and huns over the ruffed grouse opener in Minnesota.  I can't even think of the last time I didn't hunt the MN opener, but it was worth it.

 

Shot my first ever double on Huns over a beautiful point by my dog Butch and then scotch doubled the next day on another nice covey

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I got out on Saturday here in MN for Ruffies, but couldn't get too far up north as I had to be home to coach a football game on Saturday night.  I ended up hunting a cover that would normally be pretty hard to get to if the swamps had water in them.  Even better still this particular cover has large 'old growth' set of trees screening beautiful 12 year old popple from the prying eyes of people driving by looking for grouse cover.

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I hadn't hunted the place before Saturday, but I knew I was in for a treat when Butch locked down his first grouse 40 yards into the cover.  The tune up up the week before on the prairie paid it's dividends in the woods this weekend and I made a nice snappy shot.  I moved a decent amount of grouse in the cover and caught another two that held nice for points that I was able to scratch down.  I would have expected more woodcock, but I did take 2 off of points and let rest go.  I wanted to have at least one bird for my old veteran to retrieve, but the next spots were completely devoid of woodcock.

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Nice little male woodcock

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After coaching Saturday night I left strait from the game to my hunting shack.  I was hoping to get some serious hunting in on Sunday, but by noon the the temps were in the mid 70's and with full sun it was just too hot for much hunting.  I did make it back to one super remote cover in the morning.  I couldn't find a way onto this one last year shy of putting on a set of waders, so I was happy to walk across a dry cattail slough this time.  There was no wind and it was pretty crunchy.  I had a handful of points, but the grouse all flushed unseen at pretty good distance.  I did catch one slipping right near the end.  It was another brown phased bird (as were all the ones I took this weekend).

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I am definitely looking forward to cooler weather and leaf drop.

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