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Rick

OutdoorMN News - Hunter walking trails a guide for getting into grouse hunting

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Rick

Anyone who wants to try grouse hunting has an opportunity to access hunter walking trails that guide nonmotorized users through grouse habitat in northern and central Minnesota. 

Hunter and dog going away_govdelivery“Hunter walking trails are a fun way to check out new areas and they do provide good hunting,” said Ted Dick, forest game bird coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “New hunters can follow these trails and not worry about getting lost or wandering off public land. And you can get away from trucks and four-wheelers, and into some decent grouse habitat.”

Minnesota’s 600 miles of hunter walking trails are located in the northern forested area of the state where grouse are abundant. There are more than 200 hunter walking trails. Most have convenient parking and signs at the trailhead.

“Our grouse hunting is better than any other state, so if you have the urge to try an activity you haven’t done, it’s as easy this year as any other and hunter walking trails are a good place to start,” Dick said.

An avid grouse and woodcock hunter himself, Dick has taken youth and new hunters on hunter walking trails over the years and uses the trails as a fun way to check out a new area to hunt.

“I’ve taken kids to areas I don’t know very well, and they’ve shot their first bird and we’ve had great hunting on places we all went into cold,” Dick said.

The DNR partners with other organizations and land managers to maintain some hunter walking trails. A new $300,000 grant from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to the Minnesota Ruffed Grouse Society has a goal of restoring about 200 trailheads and 80 miles of existing trails, adding 20 miles of trail and updating trail maps for land managers and trail users.

The DNR and partners developed the system of hunter walking trails beginning in the 1970s. Timber harvest around the trails is the main tool used to create quality grouse and woodcock habitat. The trails wind their way through wildlife management areas, ruffed grouse management areas, state forests and other types of public land.

Trails are generally mowed once a year as hunting season approaches. With or without a dog, the trails can offer a surefire way to get out and get away from it all.

Online and downloadable maps of hunter walking trails and more information can be found on the hunter walking trails page.

Want to start grouse hunting?
Grouse hunting may be the easiest way to get into hunting – or if nothing else, get in a good hike.

“Grouse hunting for a lot of people is an excuse to get into the woods and away from the day-to-day stress,” Dick said.

To get started, find a shotgun, a blaze orange vest and hat, and buy a valid small game license. Unless you pepper the social media world with selfies, you need not worry about fashion. You don’t even need a dog. Caution though: Hunting with a dog can be rewarding and habit forming.

In Minnesota, grouse, considered by some “the king of game birds,” are generally found in or near aspen trees, so once out there keep an eye out for aspen – especially young stands with broomstick width stems.

“We always say that in good grouse habitat, if you trip you won’t hit the ground because it’s too thick to walk through,” Dick said.

Grouse season is open now and lasts through Jan. 1, 2020. If you’re also targeting woodcock, make sure to get a HIP certification when you buy your license. The woodcock season ends Monday, Nov. 4. Hunters can even help the DNR collect samples for West Nile virus and enter to win a shotgun doing so. For the details, check the DNR’s grouse hunting page.

Discuss below - to view set the hook here.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Borch
      Seems too small to be used for a recirculation line to another livewell.  Not 100 % sure what it would be used for though.  My first thought is a pressure vacuum line as I believe lund is still using a valve system for switching live wells fill from the pump. 
    • Bonez
      I tried to search and found a few old posts regarding Superior National Forest (quoted at the end of my post). I usually go grouse hunting in the Superior National Forest every fall, but I've never been up there fishing. I'm planning to head up there in ~1 month with a couple of my friends and their families and we will be bringing canoes. We're hoping to catch some walleye ideally. When I've been up in the fall hunting we usually try to camp by one the many lakes (Wilson, Whitefish, Silver Island, Bone...). The posts at the end are over a decade old already. I'm sure that some of it hasn't changed, but I was wondering if anyone has any good tips for fishing in the SNF? I perused DNR LakeFinder for the lakes in the area we usually go to that have walleyes: Timber, Finger, Sister, Dam Five, Elbow, Frear, Ninemile, T Lake, Windy, Harriet, Wilson, Toohey, Four Mile, Whitefish, Silver Island. Anyone have any general or specific tips for this area? We'd be in canoes, so don't need a lake that has a launch, and maybe that adds benefit getting to a lake that potentially has less pressure.   ------------------------------------------------------------   "There are a number of areas you could get to easily with just about any vehicle. Lake Eighteen, Wilson, Silver Island, August... There are a couple that come to mind down some tougher roads, Seven Beavers and Harris. If you wanted to have a wilderness type experience without the permits and regs you could boat across Ojibway and take the roller portage into Triangle if you have a smaller boat. Birch Lake has a lot of the rustic campsites."   "Dumbbell is another option (I forgot to mention) and if you're interested in going after muskies would be a good option. Pretty cool campsite on a point."   "Wilson has some really nice walleyes, but because it's so clear, the best bite is after dark. Windy has a lot of eaters, plus plenty of northerns and the occasional whitefish. There are several sites scattered around the perimeter. An updated MacKenzie map should show the locations of most campsites on any lake you're looking to fish."   "Elbow, Timber, Frear - I would hit them for sure, close together and good walleye lakes. For bait I would use jig and minnows if your bringing minnows, and leeches on a snell, crawlers on the harness. I know lindy rigs and leeches work also, so bring them. Bone Lake - Great splake lake. Lots of good size fish. I love to fish splake, and I would bring in just these spoons. Kamloopers, in rainbow trout and perch colors, and Kastmasters in silver blue, and perch. These are what I only use for splake. They are the best period. Bring a few as there are good sized fish in there. Put them on a swivel and troll the shorelines and points for them, deadly approach. As for Cross River and Coffee Lake your typical walleye rigs will work as I mentioned above. I would bring some pike lures and try for some pike as well. Cross River has good size pike in there. I would also check with some bait shops or local people who have fished these lakes this year, just in case of a freeze out. We had alot of ice up this way. Lotta beaver ponds I trap froze to the bottom, and Cross Lake is shallow, and so is Coffee, but with the creeks and rivers running into them you should be OK. But I would check with the Beaver House or Bucks Hardware. Hate to hike in and the lake froze out."    
    • Mike89
    • gimruis
      I don't doubt that.  Bass anglers are catching way more walleyes than bass right now too.  The bass fishing has gotten to be difficult.  There's way too much pressure on those fish.
    • Hookmaster
      The warranty is in place. I didn't ask how to fix it or if the dealer would fix it. I was just wondering where the tubing off the nipple goes. I thought I'd ask here before the dealer.
    • Skibo
      On Big Bay we experienced levels of boat traffic like you did - it was more than most any 4th of July weekend.  On Saturday night at 8 pm, we were in the middle of Big Bay and counted 77 boats that we could see from that spot.  After seeing all that boat traffic we figured there would be lots of traffic on the way home, but we left at 4:30 pm and were very pleasantly surprised that there was no traffic to speak of.  Either everyone left early, or they were staying until today.
    • Mike89
      if it's a new 2020 boat where is the warranty on this???  
    • Hookmaster
      New 2020 boat. Livewell is leaking into the boat. Upon further review I found the leak. It's on the white fitting of the recirculation system where the water goes back into the livewell. I'm sure the rigger broke the little nipple on the right side when he installed the fuel/water separating filter as the gray gas line is right there. My question is where does the tubing from the little nipple go? The front livewell?  
    • Wanderer
      Agreed, the eyes didn’t look healthy and didn’t have much spunk, even for walleyes.  We caught some off the dock fishing leeches under floats in about 8-9 fow.   Lots of boats out!  I don’t visit Mille Lacs much so I don’t know if the memorial crowd was more than usual but I have a feeling it wasn’t.  Except for the rain showers that moved through we could count anywhere from 45 -100 boats from the dock at any given time.
    • rumeye
      My brother was up there on Sunday with the Nephew and had a 70 fish day. He said most were 18 to 21 inches with a few 22 23's and 24's mixed in. Think they also got a few 25 and 26ers. Leech's lindy rigging off Agate reef and Half moon deep side 21 ft plus. 
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