Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Minnesota DNR liberalizes spring wild turkey hunting season for 2014

St. Paul — Efforts to make it as easy as possible to hunt turkeys continue.

Beginning with the 2014 spring season, hunters only will have to apply for the first three time periods. (They had to apply for the first four last year.) And hunters 18 years and younger may buy a license over the counter, and hunt any time period in any permit area. They’re limited only by the one-bird bag limit.

“It’s a reflection that turkeys are doing well in the state,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife population and regulation program manager. “We’re beyond the restoration phase of turkeys in Minnesota. We’re no longer in the (trap and transplant) mode. Turkeys are well established in most of the state. We just don’t need to be as conservative as we have been in the past.

“We’re trying to make it easier for people to get a turkey license and go turkey hunting,” he said.

The spring turkey application period began Nov. 27 and runs through Jan. 10.

While allowing hunters to buy licenses over the counter for all seasons but the first three may seem like a big change, in reality, it’s not, Merchant said.

With the exception of the first season, all spring wild turkey seasons are under-subscribed, anyway.

“On the ground, it has no effect,” Merchant said. “It just simplifies people’s lives.”

The DNR in recent years has become more liberal in handing out spring turkey permits. But beginning in 2011, the number of permits issued has been on the decline. (From 46,548 in 2010; to 43,521 in 2011; to 38,906 in 2012; to 34,281 in 2013.)

The trend is interesting – if concerning.

Merchant figures giving hunters the opportunity to buy licenses over the counter has had the effect of some people simply not hunting. Why? If people have to apply, they “lock in” their turkey-hunting plans.

But when they can buy licenses over the counter, they may say they’ll hunt turkeys, but then skip it if something else comes up.

In recent years, the number of gun turkey hunters has been on the decline, “which is concerning,” but the number of youth turkey hunters and archery turkey hunters is on the rise.

In 2011, there were 2,462 permits issued to archers. In 2013, archers were issued 4,550 permits.

Why the drop in gun hunters?

“People are getting older and their lives are more complicated,” Merchant said. “That’s what I think.”

Turkey hunters killed 10,390 turkeys during the spring of 2013.

Other changes

  • Archery spring turkey licenses now are good for the last five spring seasons. The bag limit remains one per hunter.
  • The portion of the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area surrounding the wildlife office headquarters in closed. The remainder of the WMA is open to turkey hunting.

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