DNR: Hunting spring gobblers made easier
Hunters hoping to bag a tom turkey with a firearm this spring will no longer be restricted to a single permit area. With the exception of three major wildlife management areas, a spring turkey license will provide the opportunity to hunt all permit areas in the state.
Beginning March 1, all spring turkey hunters can purchase a license over-the-counter. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is announcing the season details now so hunters can apply for permits drawn in a lottery for the three wildlife management areas.
“We’re making it easier to hunt wild turkeys in Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, wildlife populations program manager with the DNR. “Turkey restoration has been a great success for the state and, over time, we’ve been able to relax and simplify hunting regulations.”
The DNR annually monitors hunter participation and turkey harvest. In 2019, the agency considered recent season participation, hunter interest in lotteries, harvest levels, and public comment on potential season changes. Public input indicated high levels of hunter support for greater flexibility in hunting location as well as increased opportunities to purchase licenses over-the-counter rather than through the lottery.
Turkey season runs from April 15 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F (dates are in table below). Firearms hunters 18 and older must choose their hunt period when they purchase a license. Firearms turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Firearms turkey hunters ages 18 and older who are interested in a permit to hunt in Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas during A through C seasons will be required to apply for a lottery. The deadline to apply for those high-demand areas is Friday, Jan. 24. Successful applicants may hunt statewide, in addition to their selected wildlife management area.
Archery-only license holders may still hunt statewide for the entire season (April 15-May 31). Hunters cannot purchase both a firearms and archery-only license.
Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger may hunt statewide for the entire season (April 15-May 31) with firearms or archery equipment.
Because there is no lottery for spring wild turkey licenses, the landowner and tenant drawing, which set aside a percentage of lottery licenses for landowners with qualifying land, has been discontinued, and landowners and tenants can purchase licenses like other turkey hunters.
Turkey lottery applications for the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas cost $5 and can be purchased online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, by phone at 888-665-4236, or in person from a license agent. Successful applicants will receive a notice in the mail by mid-February and can purchase their hunting license starting March 1.
2020 Spring turkey hunt periods
Hunt A: April 15-21
Hunt B: April 22-28
Hunt C: April 29-May 5
Hunt D: May 6-12
Hunt E: May 13-19
Hunt F: May 20-31