Publishers note: Ryan has offered to write an occasional Finland/Isabella Minnesota area grouse report for Ruffed Grouse Minnesota.
End of October has always been my favorite time to get into the woods and grouse hunt! You can see and hear things so much better when the leaves are down and crunchy under their feet. The crisp cool air with the smell of decaying leaves and warm popple tree bark in the sun! I love it! Going to hopefully hunt all day Saturday and morning til early afternoon Sunday. I don’t have anyone with where I am trying to get them to shoot birds so I can focus on hunting and my style a little more this weekend, which I am excited about!
What a great time this past weekend! Even though the weather on Sunday was a little too warm to be walking through the brush at 85 degrees! I didn’t see a single hunter all weekend where I was. Saw 18 birds, shot 3 spruce grouse, and 6 ruffed. Such a fun time! Was able to see in so much better compared to the previous few weekends. I had a few grouse outsmart me this weekend though, which is always a fun challenge. It was a really windy on Saturday so if there were any birds sitting on the trail or right off into the brush, they would see me walking 50 yards away or more and dart into the woods! With the wind whipping through the trees, it made it hard to hear them peeping and crunching through the leaves to get a good sense at where they were hiding. I didn’t have a dog with, so it was a good challenge! I followed one bird probably 300 yards deeper and deeper into the thick cover before I jumped him for a 4th time and he got sick of me stalking him and went up and over the tops of the trees and flew a long ways, which made me throw in the towel on that bird. With the spruce grouse, you almost have to throw a rock at them to turn it into a sport because they will let you dang near walk up to them on most occasions. I always seem to pick one or two of them up each time I am up there. A lot of people say they either pass on them or shoot them and leave them, which if you’re going to do one of the two, I would hope you would just not shoot them because they are an important bird for the ecosystem up there. They have a dark purple colored meat that tastes a little more “gamey” than a ruffed grouse, but if you tenderize the meat by poking it several times with a fork before you cook them, it helps a lot with keeping the meat tender. My favorite way to make a sprucie taste good is sauté the meat in a sweeter sauce or glaze like teriyaki or something similar.
This past weekend was a work weekend at the cabin with a couple shotgun wielding walks in the mornings and evenings. We cut trails and opened up shooting lanes most of the day Saturday, along with some stand work. The deer sign isn’t very promising as of late at the Finland shack, but neither is the wolf sign. There have been more and more mountain lion sightings and issues in our area this past year, which is a growing concern. Hopefully when deer season rolls around, some of the herds of deer will start making their wintering trek towards Lake Superior and move through the area. We had a full house at the cabin this time. My brother, grandpa, four cousins, and two significant others as well! Great time with family and a decent amount of help we aren’t used to having this time of year!
Only saw 5 birds at the cabin on our walks, shot 3 of them. We weren’t really hunting TOO hard, but just enjoyed the walks. I’ll send pics of our area that our cabin is in, pretty area! On my way home, my dad called and said he was heading up to our Gooseberry shack, so I stopped in and waited for him to get up. We unloaded the side by side and headed down the 4 mile trail to our shack. Saw a grouse right away fly over the trail and land 100 feet into the brush. We got our guns out and headed in after her. We kept going further and further in and thought that she had flown when we were getting ready to go in but once we got about 200 feet in, she took off and I made a solid shot and was able to drop her. Nice bird! We only saw 2 more grouse and weren’t able to get them, but ended up shooting 3 woodcock and seeing 6 of those guys! Fun birds to hunt! So, I got to enjoy hunting and stopping at both cabins for the weekend! Nothing much better than that!
have seen an unusual amount of woodcock this season, and later in the season than normal as well! Makes for fun outings with friends! I have some awesome pictures from 2 weekends ago…we had quite the time up north. A few friends and I took a camper up north, our wheelers to get to the good spots, and a black lab. Sort of our last hoorah for the season before deer opener. It was very windy on that Saturday and we hunted for a decent amount of the day. Saw 6, shot 4. Slow day, but we were relaxing and hanging out at camp, so we enjoyed ourselves! Made honey BBQ wings and had pulled BBQ pheasant sandwiches for dinner that night then went to a little watering hole in the middle of nowhere for awhile and ran into some friends from Silver Bay. What a great time! We got back to camp and crawled into our beds. It was clear skies and upper 20’s, which means it was shaping up to be that one perfect morning you get each Fall. Sure enough, when the alarm wen off at 6:45, I crawled out of my sleeping bag and went outside to check out the weather. Not a cloud in the sky, sun making its way up, frost and iced over puddles, and not a lick of wind! I excitedly woke everyone up and told them that we NEED to get out to the trails. I started all the wheelers up and scraped off the windshields while my friends were shaking off the remnants of the night before. We got on the wheelers and headed out on the 7 mile trip to our secret trail, which always produces! 2 minutes into our drive, we see a bird run into the woods from the trail. We get off and go in after him. We ended up getting 4 grouse in there with the lone bird that ran in! I knew it was going to be a good day!
Once we got to our trail, we started walking down it and right away jumped 2 birds and got them both! Wow, 30 minutes in and we have 6 birds! The morning continued as such! We ran into a covey of 4 birds and ended up getting all four! Quite the shooting display from us! We ended up hunting for 3 hours and shot 16 grouse! One of the top 5 mornings I’ve ever had. We couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had! We saw 20 birds that morning and after we packed up and headed home, there was a lone grouse sitting on the side of the highway waving goodbye to us! Perfect weekend.
This past weekend Sunday my dad and I got out to the gooseberry shack early to do some work clearing brush and getting things ready for opener. It’s a 4 mile wheeler ride from the dirt road back into the cabin. We always throw the shotgun in, just in case:) sure enough, 200 yards into our trip out, there was a huge male fanned out in the trail. He got nervous and flew into the woods so my dad and I went in after him. He had gone about 60 yards deep into the woods but we narrowed him down to a narrow tree line. So I got ready and as soon as he took off, I got a perfect bead on him and got him. Beautiful brown stage male. Brown neck feathers as well. We got a lot of work done at the cabin that day. All ready for us! I am now sitting in the cabin with the fire going, listening to classic rock and enjoying a smooth 7-7!
Ryan Schmidt reports from Duluth, MN
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com