Spring counts of ruffed grouse in Minnesota were down nearly 30 percent and the sharp-tailed grouse count was also down, says the D-N-R. But spokeswoman Charlotte Roy says grouse populations vary on a ten-year cycle and the peak just occurred. “It’s not alarming. This kind of thing has happened before and the… magnitude of the drop that we’re seeing is not unprecedented,” she says.
Roy says if production of young birds is low this summer, hunters may encounter fewer birds this fall than spring drumming counts would predict. But if summer production is high, hunters might get better results than expected. Roy notes, “Most of the birds that hunters encounter in the fall are young of year, and so if we have a poor production year, then hunters see fewer birds. Likewise, if we have a really good year for production, hunters see a lot more birds.”