Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Turkey hunt starts slow

DNR: 135 turkeys released at eight sites over winter

By Rob Drieslein

Editor

Elba, Minn. Cool spring weather, high winds, and rain didn’t
help Minnesota wild turkey hunters during the first five-day
season, which began last Wednesday, April 16. Reports appeared to
improve with the start of the second season on Monday as warmer,
dryer conditions returned to the state.

On Tuesday, Nancy Roberts, at Mauer Brothers Tavern in Elba,
said many birds had been registered the first two days of second
season. The business registered 51 birds the first season, dead
even with the same time period in 2002.

“We had 17 yesterday and 11 so far today, so it’s really been
busy,” Roberts said at about noon Tuesday. “We’ve have some big
birds, too.”

Last week, hunters complained about the wet weather hampering
their calling, and a few gave up early, she said. On Tuesday,
Roberts reported a 25-pound, 14 ounce tom as well as several
24-pound-plus gobblers that hunters registered.

La Crescent-area Conservation Officer Larry Webinger agreed that
the cool, rainy weather slowed things down last week. Gobbling
activity on Tuesday, however, was fast and furious, he said.

“Today was a beautiful morning,” he said. “There were turkeys
gobbling everywhere.”

Webinger didn’t have any turkey violations to report.

“Turkey hunters aren’t much of a problem; they’re usually pretty
serious guys who hunt alone or in pairs,” he said before adding,
“It’s these ATVers driving where they’re not supposed to that are
driving me nuts right now.”

Rushford-area CO Dan Book said Tuesday marked the first day
since the season began that he’d heard serious gobbling activity.
With lots of birds in the southeast this year, he expected hunting
success to improve.

“I look for it to get lots better now that spring is here,” he
said.

Turkey releases

The Minnesota DNR reported on Tuesday that its crews, in
cooperation with the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wild Turkey
Federation, released 135 turkeys at sites in five counties during
the past winter. Crews use rocket-propelled nets to trap turkeys as
the turkeys feed over bait piles.

Since 1976, DNR crews have been live-trapping wild turkeys from
large flocks in southeastern Minnesota and releasing them in other
areas of the state with suitable wild turkey habitat. To date,
approximately 4,200 birds have been released in 60 counties across
the state.

This year, birds released in Mille Lacs, Kanabec, and Pine
counties also will be used in an ongoing St. Cloud State
radio-telemetry study that will determine if agricultural crops
primarily corn are critical to winter survival. Birds also were
released in Wadena and Benton counties.

“We had a mild winter in the southeast, so the birds were all in
excellent condition,” said Gary Nelson, Winona area wildlife
manager and supervisor of the DNR wild turkey trapping program.
“However, the weather also made natural foods more available, which
hampered our live-trapping efforts.”

The state’s wild turkey season runs through May 25. The DNR
expects about 22,000 hunters to participate in one of eight
five-day hunting seasons this year.

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