Should You Hunt Ruffed Grouse in Iowa?

In good habitat, the ruffed grouse once covered many parts of Iowa. But, once the land was taken over and vital habitat destroyed, the grouse began their downward trend. Now, they only inhabit a small section of the northeast part of the state. The country is rough, here, with steep, rolling hills unsuitable for farming. Grouse numbers are difficult to estimate, but, as the forests change to yet more unsuitable habitat (older growth), it is the general consensus that grouse numbers are still declining.

I was hunting spring turkeys at the Volga River State Recreation Area, some thirty years ago, when I heard my first Iowa grouse. Deep down in the hilly terrain, I heard one drumming. Heading into the same area the very next day, I flushed one. A good sign, then? Yes, but not so much today. Jeff Hildebrand, Park Ranger for the area, stated, “You are still allowed to hunt grouse in this area, but there have been none (grouse) seen or heard at the Volga River SRA for a couple decades now.”

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