Bird Hunting in Minnesota

Written by | Bird Hunting Articles, Bird Hunting by State

bird hunting in Minnesota

From forests to prairies, Minnesota is the perfect state for upland bird hunting.

More than 86,000 square miles, 200,000 acres of prairie, 17 million acres of forest, 10,000 lakes, 11 million acres of public hunting land and the largest population of timber wolves outside Alaska. That may or may not have anything to do with bird hunting in Minnesota, but it does say plenty about the state. Minnesota is massive — massive and wild, still. You can find some of America’s best bird hunting in Minnesota. Check out the bird hunting in Minnesota film, Timber Rocket.

Don’t worry if you don’t live there. Bird hunting is fair game for non-residents of Minnesota. Non-resident license fees are $102 or $75 for three-days. Residents pay $22.

Ruffed Grouse

In years when the ruffed grouse population is low, Minnesota is the state to go for bird hunting. The state boasts one million acres for designated ruffed grouse hunting and forty areas of designated management. Most of this happens in the north-central forested regions up into Canada.

The ruffed grouse season runs from September 15 to January 1. There is a daily bag limit of five.

American Woodcock

Where you find ruffed grouse, you can probably find American woodcock, less so in the southwest. As migratory birds, the woodcock leave the woods of Minnesota in the cold months for warmer, southern states. Across North America, the population of American woodcock has declined. Woodcock hunting in Minnesota, however, is still possible thanks to apparently stable trends within the state.

The American woodcock season runs from September 23 to November 6, with a daily bag limit of three.

(Governed by federal migratory bird laws. HIP Survey Required)

Sharp-tailed Grouse

These birds used to be far more available for bird hunting in Minnesota, but with the loss of open habitat has come the loss of their population numbers. These days, the sharp-tailed grouse range is in the far northern reaches of Minnesota and in east-central areas. You can find them where there is open grasslands: places where thick timber is not present. If you don’t want to go trekking through the vast woods, Sharp-tailed grouse is a good option for bird hunting in Minnesota.

The sharp-tailed grouse season runs from September 15 to November 30 for the northwest and October 13 to November 30 for the east-central populations. The daily bag limit is three.

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Ring-necked pheasant live in grasslands, too—plenty of which can be found while bird hunting in Minnesota. The region for this species is the west-central and southwest portions of Minnesota. Check out the over fourteen hundred public wildlife areas across Minnesota for great bird hunting.

The ring-necked pheasant season runs from October 13 to January 1, with a daily bag limit of two. An additional stamp for $7.50 is required.


The prairie-chicken is found in a variety of habitats while bird hunting in Minnesota. The prairie-chicken is either in open grasslands, dense willow thickets, or the rolling grasslands of western Minnesota. Only limited hunting of the prairie-chicken is available and you’ll need to pay additional license fee of $23; if you are lucky enough to draw a permit.

The season runs from September 29 to October 7. The limit is two per season by lottery and the deadline is August 17.

Mourning Dove

Mourning doves are one of the most common birds to be found while bird hunting in Minnesota. You can find them all over the state, except in the far northeastern woods. As migratory birds, they will leave for the winter, so it’s best to hunt them while it’s still warm in Minnesota.

The season runs from September 1 to November 9. The daily bag limit is five.

(Governed by federal migratory bird laws. HIP Survey Required)

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Minnesota

Plenty of other species can be found while bird hunting in Minnesota, of course. Along with the typical geese and ducks are Wilson’s Snipe and rails. The season dates for them are September 1 to November 5. There are not just ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse in Minnesota, either; patient hunters can find spruce grouse in the northwest and along the Canadian border. Hunters can also find the occasional Hungarian partridge, though they have declined since the inception of monoculture and larger grains in much of the state. The season dates run the same length as ruffed grouse with a daily bag limit of five.

Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Minnesota Bird Hunting

Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society

Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock Society

Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

Pheasants Forever

The Minnesota Hunters Safety Course and Further Regulations

Hunters looking for a license for bird hunting in Minnesota will need to possess a Firearm Safety Certificate. And while it’s eventually required, those without can still hunt in Minnesota under the Apprentice hunter validation. What this basically does is allows someone without a certificate to hunt two years under a licensed adult hunter. Youth between 14 and 15 can hunt without a license, as well, as long as they have completed the hunter education course. For more information, check out the safety course.

When you’re not bird hunting, you might be training your dog. From April 16 to July 14, you can train on public land in Minnesota using pigeons and blank ammunition. You need a special permit if you want to train with live ammunition and game birds. For birds other than pigeons, you must clearly mark their legs.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Minnesota. 

Last modified: August 10, 2018

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