Bird Hunting Minnesota – Upland Game Birds

Bird hunting minnesota can be fun and rewarding, but it requires a lot of preparation. You need to find a good bird dog and make sure you have all the necessary gear.

You can find pheasants on public lands, including farm fields, federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields, brush patches, wetlands and native grasses. Check local regulations before you head out to hunt.

Pheasant

The pheasant is one of Minnesota’s favorite upland game birds. It’s a wily and elusive game bird that has earned the reputation of humbling shotgun-toting hunters. It’s also a hearty source of table fare. Upland hunters typically use pointing or spaniel breeds to hunt pheasants.

Late season pheasant hunting is often more successful than early season pheasant hunting. This is because the pheasants have usually left their grassy roosting fields by the time the opening day of the season rolls around.

The northwest corner of the state is where grouse and pheasant country converge. There are lots of ring-necked pheasants in this area.

Sharp-tailed grouse

The sharp-tailed grouse is a large bird that lives in open grassy or brushland areas. Flocks of these birds were once so large that early settlers said they sometimes blocked the sun. However, grouse numbers have plummeted over time as open land has been converted to timber and cropland.

DNR grouse project leader Charlotte Roy says these birds need vast, open areas of at least two square miles to survive. But fewer wildfires, less grazing and more trees on the landscape have made it hard to find the right mix of habitat for this game bird.

The grouse season has been called off in east-central Minnesota this year due to declining population numbers, but hunters can still target spruce and ruffed grouse.

Hungarian partridge

Hungarian partridge, also called Huns, open in September and close in late January (though their season largely coincides with those of pheasants, ruffed grouse and chukar). They are more tolerant of cold weather than other upland game birds and tend to huddle on snowy fields to escape predators.

They hunt in groups, or coveys, that range from four or five to a couple dozen. They’re more skittish than quail and can be tough to locate. A well-conditioned, wide-ranging pointer is a big help.

Hungarian partridge were first introduced in North America in the late 1700s and now occur in huntable numbers in several Western states and Canada. They like fields with a mix of grasses and forbs, as well as agricultural crops and waste grain.

Mourning dove

A slender-tailed dove, the mourning dove breeds in southern Canada south through most of the United States. It is also known as the American mourning pigeon and colloquially as the rain dove or turtledove.

These birds often perch on telephone wires and other structures, where they scrounge seeds from the ground. They also visit bird feeders to eat sunflower seeds, cracked corn and other grains.

They get their name from the soft cooing that they produce, which sounds like a mournful lament. They also make a whistling sound when they take off and land, caused by air rushing through their wings. These sounds are part of their courtship displays.

Snipe

Snipe are medium-sized migratory shorebirds. Their plumage features a mottled pattern of brown, black, tan and orange with off-white accents. They use their long, straight bills to probe wet soil for worms and insects.

They are common in Minnesota’s marshes, low country, muddy pond edges, potholes, drainage ditches and wet agricultural fields. Their camouflage allows them to hide from hunters until suddenly flushed.

Snipes have a reputation for their rapid flight path which zigzags as they explode from cover. The sound they make as they winnow their tail feathers, called a “hu-hu-hu” is distinctive and can echo off wispy cumulous clouds. It’s a great practical joke to prank your friends with.

Rabbit & Hare

There are many reasons to take up rabbit hunting, including the fact that it can be done year-round, and hunters can easily find plenty of opportunities on public land. The DNR says that rabbits tend to stay in a small area the size of five football fields, and they’re active from dusk until dawn.

There are few things that can compare to the taste of slowly braised rabbit stew, but for some reason, bunny-hunting hasn’t gotten quite as much love from Minnesota hunters as it deserves. Maybe that will change as deer and grouse seasons wind down, giving dedicated rabbit-dog gunners like Waalkens the opportunity to hit the woods without a lot of competition.

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