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31

Grouse hunting in the Midwest is one of the favorites for locals and even for those from out of state.

The favorite upland birds have typically gone through cyclical periods of strong numbers followed by poor numbers. Things have been pretty good in recent years, but this year in Minnesota the numbers are down. Most hunters and the DNR are not too worried about the cycle of the counts.

Drumming counts, typically done in the midsummer, show that numbers are down about 1-2 percent depending on the location.

The numbers being down in the state is entirely a surprise. As mentioned earlier, the grouse population typically moves on a 10-year cycle and right now is the time in the cycle when counts are usually down.

The cycle may have something to do with the birds. It may have something to do with weather patterns or maybe it’s just Mother Nature’s way of regulation one of her species.

Earlier this season it was a difficult spring for grouse hatching. The season was pushed back just a bit due in part to cold and wetness throughout the Midwest. The birds are still showing signs of health so the season is certainly not lost this year.

Minnesota is one of the nation’s most populated state for grouse - ruffed and sharptail. It’s a popular destination for hunters from all over the world that come to hunt the difficult upland bird.

Local hunters also have traditions that go back years and years. This year should still allow hunters plenty of enjoyment. The numbers are down slightly and still follow along nicely with the traditional cycle. It should be a great year for grouse hunting even if the numbers may be down just a bit from last year and maybe a little more than that from the previous good years.

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