Up in these parts, deer opener is considered as sacred as any other holiday on the calendar. Offices clear out and school lockers sit empty as sons and daughters of every generation pack their gear and head out to fill their tags.
For many, the thrill of the hunt itself is as much a reward as the bounty harvested in the field. Whether sitting still as a statue in a treestand or walking tree rows in a well-choreographed stalk with a hunting party, these are where lifelong hunting memories start… and up here in the pristine wilderness of Northern Minnesota, memories are waiting to be made.
Koochiching County, situated on the Canadian border, is blessed with vast swaths of public land open for hunting and opportunities for big game hunters, as well as waterfowl and upland game. In fact, Koochiching County is one of the few places where you can find success hunting all three of Minnesota’s native grouse species. Sharp-tailed, ruffed, and spruce grouse all reside here, giving you the ultimate chance at success. Even in down years, hunters have found Kooch forests and fields buzzing with grouse activity.
The Minnesota wilderness surrounding Ranier and International Falls is a hunting ground like no other because it offers not just abundant wildlife, but a chance to encounter a serene and utterly breathtaking wilderness most Americans only glimpse on TV. It’s the stuff of poetry. Here, in the rich green forests of Koochiching County, you can commune with nature, fall into the rhythm of the natural world, and escape the distractions of modern life… if only for a moment.
While it’s rare to find an easy hunt, the challenge is usually only as demanding as you want it to be. If you want to bushwhack your way into the deep back country with a rifle slung over your shoulder to scout your trophy buck or search for the mature black bear worthy of a full mount, you’ll get your shot. If you’d rather climb into a treestand with your bow, hunker down, and enjoy a crisp, early winter sunrise while waiting for the right opening to present itself, you can do that, too.
Find the full list of Minnesota hunting season dates on the DNR website, then plan your trip north to create memories that will last a lifetime. You’ll go home with memories for sure, and likely a freezer’s worth of meat. And perhaps a trophy for your game room.