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Sharp-tailed Grouse Blind Lottery

Two sharp-tailed grouse crouched down in the grass facing eachother

General Background Information

The mating routine of Sharp-tailed Grouse involves males displaying communally at a traditional site (one used year after year). This site is known as a “lek.” Males compete for mates by performing a ritualized dance in conjunction with calling (often a booming sound) and inflating purplish air sacs along their necks. Females approach the edge of the lek, observe and eventually select a dance participant to mate with.

Male grouse hold territories on the lek with the dominant male usually claiming the most central position. The central male also normally mates with the most females. In general, a male’s success at attracting females is highly correlated with his position on the lek. This leads to relatively few males siring most of the young.

This dancing ground, first observed in 1988, consisted of 12 male birds displaying on the lek. In 1989, the “Grouse House” was opened to the public for viewing from April through May. Over the years, participants have reported seeing as many as 45-70 males. Since 1988 three other leks have been found on the refuge, however, this lek supports the largest number of male dancers.


 The "Grouse House"


Grouse Blind Lottery

Every spring we hold a grouse blind lottery at the Refuge.  We allow people to observe the Sharp-tailed Grouse each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning the first weekend of April and ending the last weekend of May. For 2017, the first day is March 31st and the last day is May 28th.  If you are interesting in getting a chance to observe the Sharp-tailed Grouse mating routine you will need to submit the following information by March 27th: 
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Top three dates
You can submit information by e-mail:, or by phone by calling (406)727-7400 ext 229, or stop by the office and submit your information in person. Those selected will be notified by letter the week of March 28-31.  Those selected for the first weekend will also be notified by phone.  Good Luck!


Last Updated: Feb 21, 2017
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