Minnesota small game, archery deer seasons open Saturday
ST. PAUL - Minnesota small game hunting seasons start on Saturday when the seasons for ruffed grouse, rabbit and squirrel begin.
“Small game season is a forgotten pleasure,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “With nothing more than a small caliber rifle or shotgun, a bit of patience and some blaze orange, Minnesota’s fields and forests are there to be explored and enjoyed.”
Hunters must meet firearms safety requirements or obtain an apprentice hunter validation and go afield with a licensed hunter. Minnesota’s apprentice hunter validation program enables those who need but have not completed firearms safety training to hunt under prescribed conditions designed to ensure a safe hunt.
“Once you’re in the field, careful observation of wildlife habits and a bit of stealth will begin to give small game hunters the experience they need,” Kurre said.
Minnesota offers public hunting on more than 1.4 million acres of wildlife management areas, 15,000 acres of Walk-In Access lands in southern Minnesota, and millions of acres of state forests.
Grouse hunters have access to 528 designated hunting areas in the ruffed grouse range covering nearly 1 million acres, 43 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunter walking trails.
Lingering summer foliage early in the season makes harvesting grouse challenging, said Ted Dick, DNR grouse coordinator. But, he said, learning where and when grouse can be flushed is beneficial knowledge that hunters can use as colors change in the woods and leaves drop.
“Flush rates and total harvest probably will decline because we’re on the downward side of the 10-year grouse population cycle,” Dick said. “But Minnesota offers some of the best grouse hunting in the country and, even in down years, has flush rates that hunters in other states envy.”
In northwestern Minnesota, the sandhill crane season also begins Sept. 15. Waterfowl season opens statewide on Saturday, Sept. 22, as does the season on woodcock, a woodland migratory bird. Pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 13.