Public Land Hunts

In_Hunter

New member
Greetings all. Newbie to this forum.
My brother and I are going to a weekend cast and blast event at Leech Lake in mid October. We are traveling from central Indiana, and are looking for public land recommendations for pheasant hunting. Would like to hunt on a Monday, allowing us to travel home on Tuesday.
We have 1 dog, a seasoned griff, and are not afraid to do some walking. I have looked at the Spring Valley area, as it looks to be near our route home. Is anyone familiar with public land in this area? Places we should avoid?
I read that SW Minnesota is the place to be for pheasant, but not feasible for our travels. Want to hunt MN since we wil already have a license. Don’t really want to buy another out of state tag for Iowa, or hunt another preserve. Really want to give public land a go.
Thanks in advance for any advice you may have!
 

mutthunt

Member
You're going to be quite a ways away from good pheasant habitat. BUT you'll be smack in some great grouse habitat. I'd forget about phez and walk for grouse. It's really not going to be worth your time on the north/east half of the state.

Mid Oct is when grousing gets good. Cool temps, leaves fallen...tough to beat.
 

Flushedup

Member
I agree with the above. the north side of Leech is full of grouse opportunity, and not far from your base.

If you must hunt pheasants, you will have to drive about 1.5 hour min to get to the northern part of the range.
 

Rooster guy

New member
I would say forget about pheasants in that area, you're better off just throwing a ball to get the dog some exercise than attempting to walk for pheasants anywhere. Not much, if any, public land in that area, as you're almost on the polar opposite part of the state where somewhat decent pheasant populations are. As the other guys said, grouse is really your only option in that area without a fair amount of driving further south.
 

Doubles

New member
I would say forget about pheasants in that area, you're better off just throwing a ball to get the dog some exercise than attempting to walk for pheasants anywhere. Not much, if any, public land in that area, as you're almost on the polar opposite part of the state where somewhat decent pheasant populations are. As the other guys said, grouse is really your only option in that area without a fair amount of driving further south.
You make this sound like a bad thing.
;-)
 

jmnhunter

New member
hey IN, if you're stuck on pheasants, if you pull in the MN recreation compass, you can see what types of WMA's and WPA's are around, there are some pockets of birds around there, I would focus more SW of valley.
But you'll definitely be in great grouse territory, could mix it in with your walleye fishing throughout your whole trip
 
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They are out there. I got my first ever 3 bird Minnesota limit this past Saturday morning. Flushed another 2 more that would have been easy shots after I got my 3 on the walk back to the truck too. I spent a lot of time busting my butt in thick cattails and never saw a Rooster or Hen in them. Got all the birds while walking shorter cover to get to the next cattail spots.
 

Flushedup

Member
Nice job guys. I was successfully unsuccessful ?? this past weekend. I went out for an all day hunt in the beautiful weather that was handed to us, and decided to drive a few hours to make it worth it. Well, if it wasn't for some bad luck, I would have been limited and driving home after 45 minutes. But that is definitely ok, because on the second piece of public land, I had my first 50+ bird flush - 99% hens, but damn, how exciting. A great hunt, even if I shot like dump. Really fun to go hunting in Minnesota and move around 75 birds.
 

Rude One

Member
Went out Saturday and had the exact opposite experience as you both. Drove 2 hours. Saw way more hunters than birds. Not saying much as I only kicked up two hens. I think a huge problem was that all of the stuff was hit that day or maybe more than once. I was surprised at how many hunters were out. Ever spot I stopped had either been hunted or there was someone in it. Sure was disappointing. I felt sorry for my dogs. They worked hard to see only two birds.
 
Drove 2 hours. Saw way more hunters than birds. Not saying much as I only kicked up two hens. I think a huge problem was that all of the stuff was hit that day or maybe more than once. I was surprised at how many hunters were out. Ever spot I stopped had either been hunted or there was someone in it.
I feel like this past Friday and Saturday was also the most hunting pressure I have seen all season, aside from opening weekend. I don't know if it was the slight warmup or what? I spent the last hour of daylight last Friday driving to a few public spots to put together a game plan for Saturday morning, and every spot I checked either had hunters or signs that there recently was one. Saturday morning I got to my spot an hour early just to make sure nobody beat me to it. One hunter pulled in after I left (with 3 roosters) and I gave him my honest answer of everything I had covered or not covered, shot the only 3 I saw, and flushed 2 more on the walk back to the parking lot after I got my 3, so he may not have luck. But he still hunted it anyway.
 

Seve

Member
There has been quite a bit of hunting pressure all year. It's likely due to the fact that there are indeed a good amount of Pheasants still out there. I think the hunting early season was rough with all the corn in, but when folks were out deer hunting they were seemingly seeing more birds than deer. Couple that with a beautiful weather weekend last weekend and little snow cover...more hunters.

I was out this past Sunday and it seemed most of the roosters were flushing pretty far out. We worked quite a bit of cattails and heavy cover but didn't push any out of it. With the warmer temps perhaps they were out in the grass sunbathing.

Overall, it's been a really good season so far. Hard to imagine there are only a couple weeks left. If the weather stays somewhat mild (over 20*) can't imagine I won't be chasing roosters up until the end.
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Snow gone or just about gone in most of MN pheasant country. A couple inches of snow was working wonders in getting birds to hold ... Today I was in an area that has NO snow and they were completely running wild. It was just too nice, too warm and may be too calm ... Just me and my dogs (alternating runs) and we usually are fairly quiet.

Many birds were out in the corn fields eating today ... even at 11, noon and 1 ... Saw them why driving or even flying into cover from the plowed corn fields as I walked the grass.

Dogs managed to pin some hens and one rooster (made the one shot count) ....

Two spots that I stopped at ... had hens flushing from the grass just yards from the truck.

Felt like early November ...
 

Hoster05

Member
I was hoping to get out this weekend for the last time but I am not feeling very confident anymore given that it has been raining in southern MN for over 6 hours now. Temps are about to drop too, they are saying we might get some snow but as of right now its a wet slushy mess out there. anyone else heading out for the last weekend?
 
Certainly hope to head out a few more times, the dog deserves it!

However we are hosting the in-laws for Christmas this weekend, so it'll be tough to escape. May have to leave work an hour or two early on Friday and Monday the 31st. January 1st weather doesn't look good, and I was hoping to get in a lot that day.
 

gimruis

Member
I plan to go on the last day (Jan 1). The forecast is projected to be single digits and sunny, but minimal wind. I can tolerate that as long as the wind isn't blowing too much. And frankly, I would rather hunt in the cold than in October when its 70 out.

I went last year on New Years Day and it was 1 degree out. It took me about 60 minutes to get my 3 bird limit.
 

Hoster05

Member
Was out the last two days, lots of action and beautiful weather. Cold Saturday but with minimal wind it wasn’t too bad.
 

TBIRD19

New member
SW MN 3 man hunt this last weekend. Shot 6 Roosters over the two days. lots of hen flushes. sloughs were frozen, with a few soft spots but the rubber boots do work wonders. Weather was colder satruday but no problem if you dress appropriately, yesterday was a beautiful day to be out (many other hunters agreed). Lots of running birds, especially in bigger public pieces with no natural blockers, which also experience more pressure over the season. We had more luck sticking to areas where we could use the terrain (or end of) to our advantage, smaller sections to keep them contained, etc. May try new years day somewhere more local just to get out. End of season observation is that there are birds, but they really stick to their preferred pocket areas. Tons on undeveloped yearling roosters this year, indicating really late hatches. Shot a rooster december 16th that was only a little over half colored.

have permission for a few private groves on farms that i am allowed to hunt post deer season. Growing up these were our bread and butter in december, the birds would convert to this cover late season. pushing these groves with a few posters it wouldnt be any surprise to get 30-40+ bird flushes. over the years, and particularly the last few this has died off and the groves are empty. Can anyone relate? I know there is no pressure in these groves, and the cover/adjacent pieces have remained fairly the same as back in the day. Yes bird numbers are way down overall since then but i cannot come to a conclusion on why birds dont prefer this as much as they used to...
 
Door knocked in Iowa on Saturday and the owner turned me down, because he hunts his land. He was a nice guy though, and made the comment that in the winter the pheasants that are around his field ditch all fall, come up and live in the grove of trees behind his house all winter.
 
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