Apply now for Minnesota prairie chicken, fall turkey hunts
Hunters who wish to apply for one of 186 permits for the 2011 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for a fall turkey hunting permit must do so by Friday, July 30, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Application materials and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey. Winners will be notified though the mail by mid-September after applying at any DNR electronic licensing agent.
The application fee is $3. The license costs $23 for residents and $78 for nonresidents. The $5 stamp validation has been incorporated into the license fee. A separate stamp is no longer required.
This year there will be 10,450 fall turkey permits available for the season, which runs from Saturday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 30. In 2010, hunters harvested a record 1,353 birds in the fall hunt, with hunter success typically about 20 percent.
PRAIRIE CHICKEN SEASON
The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Saturday, Oct. 22, is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.
The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied. Resident hunters younger than 12 may apply for a prairie chicken license.
The odds of being drawn are about one in three, depending on the area chosen, said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.
The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.
Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species. The general closure on taking sharp-tailed grouse by small game hunters in this area is to protect prairie chickens. Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.
In 2010, an estimated 87 prairie chickens were harvested, with 37 percent of hunters taking at least one bird. Hunter success varies considerably from year-to-year, especially when poor weather prevents hunters from going out in the field.