Hunting In Cook County

Hunting is a long-standing tradition for Cook County visitors and residents because we offer the best deer, grouse and bear hunting in the region, although the epic scenery can be distracting! For tips on where to hike safely during hunting season, please see below.


The black bear was originally found throughout Minnesota but now lives only in northern woodlands. Bears lead solitary lives except when females are rearing their young, or when they come together for concentrations of food. Adult black bears weigh between 250 and 300 pounds, and coat color may vary from light brown to deep black. They are primarily omnivorous; only about ten percent of their food is animal matter. They love Cook County blueberries.


Minnesota is the top ruffed grouse-producing state in the U.S. No other state harvests as many ruffed grouse each fall or provides as much public hunting land for them. Ruffed grouse are a native woodland bird about the size of a chicken. The bird is noted for its fan-shaped tail marked by a broad, dark band, and a concealed neck ruff, which males puff out during courtship displays. Males also produce the well-known drumming noise by beating their wings in the air, starting slowly as a series of thumps. As the beating speeds up, the sound resembles a drum or engine. The drumming occurs on logs, boulders, tree roots or other elevated sites known as “drumming logs.”


The white-tailed deer is Minnesota’s most popular wildlife species. Each year, approximately 500,000 hunters harvest about 200,000 deer. The adult female weighs about 145 pounds, and males are about 170 – and the heaviest whitetail ever recorded in the US was a 500-pound Minnesota buck. Deer are amazing creatures. They can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and leap over fences eight feet tall.

For information about deer, grouse or bear hunting seasons, deadlines for license applications and more, please go to Minnesota DNR.


Hike Safely During Hunting Season

Fall hunting season in Minnesota.  Grouse, bear, and deer seasons all take place between mid-September and the end of December.  That means if you’re heading into the woods, be aware.  You can still get out and enjoy Cook County’s abundant and awesome trails, but make a plan.  Always wear at least one item of blaze orange clothing.  The goal is to be as visible as possible!  Even if you aren’t a hunter, know when hunting seasons are and always wear orange in the woods!

 So where should we hike?

When deciding where to hike during hunting seasons in Cook County, look for locations south of Highway 61 (the Lake Superior side of 61); places like Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center near Schroeder (trails open year round during daylight hours), or Sweetheart’s Bluff Nature Trail in the Grand Marais Campground and Recreation Area.  In addition, Cascade River State Park offers several miles of hiking trails near Lake Superior and just north of Highway 61 that are off limits to hunting.

Where is hunting allowed?

Hunting is allowed on all Superior National Forest Lands, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), except within the limits of developed recreation sites such as campgrounds and boating sites.  Hunting is also allowed at many of Minnesota’s State Parks. Be sure to check the Minnesota DNR website for information on hunting at specific parks.

Can we still hike on the Superior Hiking Trail?

 Yes!  Most of the trail remains open during hunting seasons.  Find out more on the Superior Hiking Trail website as well as updates on trail work and be sure to wear your orange!

person wearing protective blaze orange vest while in the forest

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