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Ruffed grouse hunting

Attention: A new upland gamebird mapping application is available for hunters! Please visit the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool landing page to explore its features and mapping information!


Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool (FFLIGHT): This application provides an interactive mapping tool that allows hunters to locate and view suitable locations for ruffed grouse and woodcock, managed dove fields and properties stocked with pheasants. Here ruffed grouse hunters can explore the young aspen and lowland alder stands that provide excellent cover for ruffed grouse and woodcock. FFLIGHT also allows hunters to use aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make their trips more productive and enjoyable.

Ruffed grouse are one of the most popular upland game birds to hunt. Ruffed grouse are most commonly known for their distinctive "drumming" noise produced by males during the spring breeding season. Male grouse will display on drumming logs, rapidly beating their wings with the intention of attracting a female grouse.

Many hunters hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock at the same time. There are federal requirements for hunting woodcock that are not required for ruffed grouse. The woodcock regulations must be followed if hunting both woodcock and ruffed grouse at the same time. To harvest woodcock, hunters must have the appropriate license, they must meet HIP registration requirements and they are restricted in the type of gun they can use. To learn more about migratory game bird hunting, read the Small Game Hunting Regulations. To learn more about HIP, visit the Harvest Information Program page.

Ruffed grouse use a variety of habitat types, but young, early successional forest types are most important when trying to find a good grouse hunting location. Seeking out the densest woody cover available is usually the quickest way to locate grouse in a new hunting area.

Spruce grouse are a state-threatened species which may not be harvested. Spruce grouse can be found in many of the same areas as ruffed grouse in northern Wisconsin. Before heading out to the woods, look at the Grouse Identification Guide [PDF] to be certain you can tell the two species apart.

Contact information
For information on ruffed grouse hunting, contact:
Jaqi Christopher
Assistant upland ecologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Last revised: Monday October 16 2017