Hunters report mixed ruffed grouse success
Ruffed grouse hunters in Minnesota are hoping success improves as leaves fall and birds become more visible, but so far, at least, hunting hasn’t lived up to preseason forecasts in many areas.
Statewide spring drumming counts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were up 57 percent, but how that translates to production and birds on the ground is difficult to measure until hunting season.
There’s really no way to conduct brood counts in the wooded areas grouse inhabit.
“Mixed,” best describes grouse hunting reports to date, said John Williams, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji.
“The hope that we had with the good drumming count just hasn’t panned out universally across the state, which is typical for a grouse year,” Williams said. “We have places where you’ll find a good number of grouse and others that look good that don’t have a lot.
“Unfortunately, it’s kind of an average year.”
Williams said the first indication grouse numbers might not be as high as expected—at least in the Bemidji area—came from two co-workers who hunt with griffons, a pointing dog breed.
“They weren’t getting as many flushes as they expected with the dog power they had,” Williams said. “That was kind of the first clue I had that maybe things aren’t as good as we had hoped for locally.”
Typically, grouse hunting improves as leaves fall and the birds become more visible, and that already seems to be the case in some areas.
“The forest foliage is noticeably thinner in just a week’s time, and the grouse are becoming less and less elusive,” Eric Benjamin, conservation officer for the DNR in Warroad, Minn., wrote in Monday’s weekly report from DNR Enforcement.
— Brad Dokken
Kittson elk hunters go six for six
Elk hunters in northwest Minnesota had 100 percent success during the first season that began Sept. 9 and ended Sept. 17. The two hunters who drew once-in-a-lifetime tags to hunt near Caribou in northeast Kittson County both shot bulls, and the four hunters with licenses for the Kittson-Central herd near Lancaster, Minn., filled their three bull tags and single cow tag, John Williams, regional wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji, said.
Of special note was the 6×6 bull elk Isabel Pearson, 12, of Karlstad, Minn., killed with a single 500-yard shot on the first day of season, Williams said.
The second northwest elk season began Saturday, Oct. 7 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 15. Three bull tags were issued for the Caribou area, and the DNR issued four tags for the Kittson Central herd near Lancaster.
— Herald staff report
DNR makes progress on agency goals
The Minnesota DNR continues to make progress on its goals spanning many areas of conservation and outdoor recreation, from hunter recruitment and environmental permitting to fire management and wildlife monitoring, the agency said.
“Our mission is to steward Minnesota’s waters, lands and habitats for current and future generations,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Through scientifically based management of our natural resources and by setting ambitious but achievable goals, we can work with partners to achieve great outcomes.”
The DNR’s achievements are detailed on the agency’s performance and accountability reporting website, which tracks the DNR’s progress toward achieving conservation goals through 87 performance measurements and targets.
The DNR has been setting targets and tracking progress for most of these metrics for over a decade. Measurements on the website cover all aspects of the agency’s work.
Some examples of significant results include:
• The number of visits and overnight guests to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas climbed 10 percent between 2015 and 2016 to 10.3 million visits. Sales of one-day and year-round permits continue to steadily increase. To strengthen the connection of Minnesotans to the outdoors, the DNR continues to innovate as the agency increases its understanding of recreational needs and motivations, builds partnerships, and expands successful programs.
• Over 51,000 students participated in DNR safety courses during fiscal year 2016, a 19 percent increase from the previous year. The DNR provides a number of courses — such as firearm and snowmobile safety — to introduce new and existing users to recreational opportunities, and encourage safe and responsible use of Minnesota’s resources.
More info: mndnr.gov.