The white-tailed deer is Minnesota's most popular wildlife species. Each year, roughly 500,000 hunters pursue this elusive big game animal and harvest roughly 125,000. They can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and leap over an 8-foot-tall fence. Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 pounds, males 170. The heaviest whitetail ever recorded in the United States was a 500-pound Minnesota buck.
The black bear was originally found throughout Minnesota, but now occurs only in northern woodlands. Bears lead solitary lives except when females are rearing their young, or when concentrations of food bring bears together. Before European settlement, grizzly bears also roamed in what is today Minnesota, mainly in the western prairies. Grizzlies have been extirpated (locally extinct) from Minnesota for more than 150 years. An adult black bear weighs between 250 and 300 pounds and stands two to three feet at the shoulders. Coat color may vary from light brown to deep black. The black bear is omnivorous, eating grasses, fruits, berries, buds or leaves, nuts, insects and their larvae, and on small animals, deer fawns, and carrion. Less than ten percent of a bear's food is animal matter. During hibernation, a female will give birth to one to four young. At birth, cubs weigh eight to ten ounces and are hairless. They grow rapidly, weigh about five pounds by the time they leave the den, and 60 to 100 pounds by their first year.
Minnesota ducks (23 species) are divided into two groups:
Puddle ducks live in shallow marshes (puddles) and rivers and feed by dabbling. You can often see their bottoms tipped up as they feed in the shallows. These ducks also feed often in grain fields. Puddle ducks are able to lift off from water or land. Minnesota puddle ducks are the mallard, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, pintail, gadwall, wigeon, shoveler, wood duck, and black duck.
Diving ducks spend their time in large, deep lakes and rivers. They feed on fish, shellfish, mollusks, and aquatic plants by diving, often to deep depths. They can swim long distances underwater by kicking their large paddle feet. Diving ducks can’t launch from water straight into the air like puddle ducks can. Instead, they patter along the water surface for several yards before becoming airborne. Minnesota diving ducks are the canvasback, redhead, ringneck (also called ringbill), scaup (also called bluebill), goldeneye, bufflehead, and ruddy duck.
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 containing ruffed grouse. Ruffed grouse are a native woodland bird about the size of a small chicken. The bird is noted for its fan-shaped tail marked by a broad, dark band. Some ruffed grouse--called red-phased birds--have chestnut-colored tails, and the gray-phased birds have gray or slate-colored tails. The bird also has a concealed neck ruff that the male puffs out during courtship displays. Male ruffed grouse make a well-known drumming noise that sounds similar to a distant lawnmower engine. He drums by beating his wings in the air, starting slowly as a series of thumps, and then, as 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.”