With a population of fewer than 2,500 and a two-hour drive to the nearest city with more than 10,000 people, Park Falls, Wisconsin, tends to fly under the radar. Ask outdoor enthusiasts if the name rings a bell, though, and you might just get a nod of recognition. It’s the home of St. Croix Rods. But this little gem has another claim to fame. Known as the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World,” Park Falls is nestled in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods and surrounded by more than a million acres of public land. An active logging industry creates quality grouse habitat and greater access to that wealth of land. Many of the area trails have been seeded with clover and gated off to prevent motorized vehicle use.
It’s no wonder folks travel from all corners to chase birds here, and it’s no surprise that some have decided to hang around these parts a whole lot longer. As famed environmentalist Aldo Leopold once wrote, “There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting, and ruffed grouse hunting.” Local enthusiasts tend to agree.
An unexpected downturn in this year’s spring drumming counts has left some scratching their heads, but the world headquarters of “winged dynamite” is filled with experts who’ve navigated the inevitable bird boom and bust before. And we’re picking their brains at an opportune time—just as they dig a bit deeper in their toolbox of go-to strategies.