prairie chicken lottery

Bob Peters

Well-known member
WOW, I hit the lottery! I haven't been this excited in a long time🤩. Whether I get into prairie chickens or not, I just hope I have a good trip and a fun adventure. I've got my fingers crossed for cool weather. The nice thing is I'll be able to hunt early and late if it is a tad warm. Not sure if I'll be able to get up there to scout, but if not I'll be pouring over maps online. I'm ready to jump into the deep end with both feet and fling some#7.5's at em!!
 

Munster927

Well-known member
WOW, I hit the lottery! I haven't been this excited in a long time🤩. Whether I get into prairie chickens or not, I just hope I have a good trip and a fun adventure. I've got my fingers crossed for cool weather. The nice thing is I'll be able to hunt early and late if it is a tad warm. Not sure if I'll be able to get up there to scout, but if not I'll be pouring over maps online. I'm ready to jump into the deep end with both feet and fling some#7.5's at em!!
Congrats Bob. You should have a good hunt. Have you ever hunted prairie grouse before?
 

Bob Peters

Well-known member
No I haven't, not specifically. I've seen them before but need to get quicker on the ID. I will be doing a lot of studying of hen pheasant vs. prairie chicken vs. sharptail. Last year in south dakota a grouse jumped out but I didn't shoot because I just couldn't convince myself it was not a hen pheasant.
 

Munster927

Well-known member
I wouldn't worry too much about IDing them (too much with a little emphasis) just because in the 10 years I've going up to the NW to chase chickens, I've seen all of 2 pheasants. 1 hen and 1 rooster. Not to say they aren't there, but the numbers are small. Also, in regards to sharpies, they are up there but assuming you are in a zone south of hwy 2 (so closed to sharpie hunting), I spoke to a warden one year in my zone and asked him what happens if I shoot a sharpie on accident?

His response was basically there isn't anything a warden would do, as long as you are a licensed chicken hunter. He said attempting to ID them in flight would be very difficult, and they essentially chalk it up to a mistake. However, he did say if you CAN identify them, please don't shoot them haha I believe (you may need to double check me here in the regs) that if you do shoot a sharpie, it counts as one of your chickens though.

So with that said, I would treat any bird you can get up as a chicken. Unless you know for a fact they are sharpies, but I wouldn't let that ruin your hunt so to speak, by being hesitant to pull the trigger because you aren't sure.

In the years I've been going up there, only 1 bird was taken by mistake. A hen pheasant sadly. It was my groups first year up there, a bird got up and a member of my group shot it. He walked up to grab it and was pissed at himself that it was a hen. So they are up there and mistakes can happen, but 90% of the birds in the area are prairie grouse.
 

John Singer

Active member
His response was basically there isn't anything a warden would do, as long as you are a licensed chicken hunter. He said attempting to ID them in flight would be very difficult, and they essentially chalk it up to a mistake. However, he did say if you CAN identify them, please don't shoot them haha I believe (you may need to double check me here in the regs) that if you do shoot a sharpie, it counts as one of your chickens though.

No. Sharptail grouse can legally be taken by prairie chicken hunters.
 

Munster927

Well-known member
Has that changed recently John? Not saying you are wrong as I looked up the regs and you are correct. But from my past conversation, that's obviously different than the current regs. Of course wardens are people to and make mistakes or say the wrong thing too.
 

Munster927

Well-known member
Bob, having looked at the regs it reads to me the normal possession for sharpies apply and they do not affect your prairie chicken possession. My fault on the confusion before.
 

John Singer

Active member
Has that changed recently John? Not saying you are wrong as I looked up the regs and you are correct. But from my past conversation, that's obviously different than the current regs. Of course wardens are people to and make mistakes or say the wrong thing too.

I have only lived in Minnesota for 4 years. I do not recall that the regulation has changed.
 

John Singer

Active member
Bob, enjoy your hunt.

It is not difficult to ID prairie chickens in flight. They look like a dumpy domestic chicken as they try to gain altitude.

Here is a pic showing a prairie chicken, on the left, next to a sharptail. My son-in-law shot these on his first prairie chicken hunt in Minnesota 3 years ago.
 

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John Singer

Active member
WOW, I hit the lottery! I haven't been this excited in a long time🤩. Whether I get into prairie chickens or not, I just hope I have a good trip and a fun adventure. I've got my fingers crossed for cool weather. The nice thing is I'll be able to hunt early and late if it is a tad warm. Not sure if I'll be able to get up there to scout, but if not I'll be pouring over maps online. I'm ready to jump into the deep end with both feet and fling some#7.5's at em!!

Since you may not be able to scout, you can go to the Minnesota Recreation Compass and look up the public lands in your selected zone.

Often there is a phone number available for the local wildlife manager. Call that number and ask for some tips where the birds can be found. I found that very helpful the first time that I went there.

Also, when hunting, avoid cover that you think is good pheasant cover. Prairie chickens are just not found in that type of cover.

I found it difficult to avoid a pheasant hunt mindset.
 

BRITTMAN

Well-known member
Prairie Chicken: Bars (lines) and square tail
Sharptail: Chevrons and narrow pointed tail

Son shot a hybird. I would say it was 3/4s prairie chicken.

There is no doubt when you get to shoot at birds like these ... I took two adult males back when the season was later in October.

1662319858720.png
 

Munster927

Well-known member
Also, when hunting, avoid cover that you think is good pheasant cover. Prairie chickens are just not found in that type of cover.

I found it difficult to avoid a pheasant hunt mindset.
What John said. Knee high grass is what you're after. The walking should almost be easy compared to pheasant cover.

As far as scouting, you can do some early morning scouting by finding a place that you can see a long distance (shouldn't be too difficult up where you're going) and watch the skies. You'll see flocks of chickens flying from one skyline to the other like geese. But if you watch them you can sometimes see where they land, and if it's in public you'll know where birds are.

Also bring binoculars, I've spotted them milling around in short grass fields before too if you watch an area long enough.
 
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