With grouse and woodcock seasons less than four months away, north-central Minnesota’s Little Moran Grouse Lodge has commenced preparations for the 2019 campaign. Annual maintenance of the eight-bedroom lodge and surrounding facilities is underway, and Little Moran’s guides are working hard to ensure that none of the kennel's 20-plus pointing dogs lose their “crackerjack” status. Only a few openings remain in the books, so a minimal amount of marketing work remains to completely fill the schedule.
Lodge owner Steve Grossman considers the aforementioned to be the perennial controllable factors that will play into the success of the upcoming season. These are things he easily can stay on top of. “The one very big and uncontrollable variable I have to deal with is bird numbers,” Grossman said. “And now is the time of year that we start compiling the info necessary to develop an outlook for the coming season.” The effect of June rains on newborn broods is a big piece of the puzzle, and Grossman certainly will be keeping his eye on that; but for now the focus is on the number of holdover birds from this past season. Grossman uses three criteria to gauge how well grouse may have survived the winter: 1) the number of birds encountered during the previous late season, 2) the quality of winter “roosting ” snow and 3) spring drumming counts. Considering these factors, Grossman is cautiously optimistic about the fall. “Our team moved good numbers of birds during our final hunts of 2018,” he said, "and although our winter was pretty harsh, the quality and depth of roosting snow gave the grouse a fighting chance to avoid predators and exposure to sub-zero temperatures. The spring has started well, too, with local turkey hunters reporting a healthy number of drumming grouse. The precipitation levels through the remainder of the spring are critical but, based on what we currently know, we expect to equal or surpass our 33-bird [grouse and woodcock moved per day] average of last season.”
Grouse enthusiasts might notice that Grossman doesn’t consider "the cycle" in his outlook. "In my opinion," he said, "the amount of variables that can disrupt the cycle are so great and frequent that I don't really factor it into my forecast."
Little Moran Grouse Lodge is a Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge. To learn more, visit The Grouse Lodge.