Awfully nice of them, to leave us grouse hunters with a fine network of trails in our public forests. Magnets for ruffed grouse, and fine shooting on woodcock, they give us an all-access pass into the Minnesota Northwoods. Actually just the remainders of logging operations, and not the work of a hunting Good Samaritan, but I welcome them just the same.
I love finding old logging roads, not quite grown over and still walkable. Ephemeral they are, use them while you can, for the grouse woods hates open spaces. Soon to be choked in deadfalls and briar bushes of many types, they don’t last long. Some become mere deer trails before succumbing to memory. I’ve developed a sixth-sense for them. When I find a break in the cover, I look left and right to see if a road once existed. These old roads are golden for shooting grouse, giving the hunter a sight line and room to swing the barrels. It’s the kind of cover that gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, if you know what I mean.
Caution: Under Construction
Without a chainsaw and a vehicle to transport it, an old logging road is doomed to extinction. I do my part where I can, sometimes with bow saw or heavy-duty loppers if I don’t have the Husqvarna handy. Late last season I picked up a ratcheting brush cutter that fits in the game bag and cuts through anything an inch or so in diameter. I’m giving back, in foot-worn grouse hunter style.
Sometimes we must share our roads with active logging operations. Without them, we’d have much less grouse habitat, so I will abide. It’s a long way from Babe the Blue Ox, but the modern Paul Bunyan earns his keep in the grouse woods.
Trails for Everyman
The MN DNR has money to keep some of the old roads open for hunters, that may appear in the Hunter Walking Trails map. Not a bad investment, an occasional mowing that gives us plenty of public land access.
In Minnesota, the grouse hunter is wealthy in logging roads.
By Joel Schnell
Posted August 8, 2016.
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com