Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

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Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Cool, wet weather does not dampen turkey hunting as Minnesotans blow past season ‘A’ harvest record

It’s probably a bad idea for a tom turkey to stick his neck out – no matter the noble purpose – this time of year in Minnesota. Despite less-than-ideal conditions during the first couple of weeks of the season, state hunters have been fast out of the gate. Gobbler-chasers even set a record harvest during Season A, which ran April 17-23. (Stock photo)

Plymouth, Minn. — The spring wild turkey-hunting season in Minnesota is just two weeks old, but the DNR reports a record-setting pace of harvest following the mild 2023-24 winter.

Nate Huck, the DNR’s resident game bird specialist, said the first week of the spring hunting season, season A, saw a harvest of 7,041 turkeys, according to preliminary reports. That tops the previous first-season record from 2020 with 5,827 turkeys taken.

The 7,000-plus turkeys killed during the 2024 season A week is more than double the number harvested during 2023’s season A week (3,122). As of Tuesday, April 30, the total number of harvested turkeys this season stands at 10,361. That’s about 74% of the total harvest from 2020 (13,996), the highest harvest year, and there are still four seasons of turkey hunting left in 2024. 

“I think it was a little bit surprising to see that high of a harvest number,” Huck said. “I think a milder spring just made (turkeys) a little more available for the hunters. Looking at the weather, I would have thought we would be down a little bit.”


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Huck added that the weather might’ve kept some hunters inside for the first couple of weekends, but the DNR saw some extra season A licenses purchased just before the season started. Given the mild winter and favorable conditions for hunting, many Minnesotans wanted to get out early for turkey hunting.

As of April 24, the DNR had sold 42,620 licenses, a significant increase from 2023 with only 29,156 licenses at this point last year. At this point in 2020, there were 48,008 licenses sold, which means more turkeys were harvested with fewer licenses purchased in 2024 compared to 2020.

A new regulation in the spring’s hunt is the use of crossbows. Huck said 609 total turkeys have been harvested with a crossbow, which equals about 7% of the total harvest. In his eyes, there’s some interest by hunters, but it’s not a common practice.

Huck said the unfortunate part of the back-to-back weekends of rain is that hens might have trouble creating nests and eggs with the wet conditions. That could lead to hens trying a second time later in the spring.

Huck said he hopes the upcoming weekends are drier and sunnier to bring more hunters out into the woods. He believes turkeys will still be responsive (to hunter calling), but it’s a game of patience and hunters will need to be calm, cool, and collected.

“I think they’re going to find birds pretty receptive,” Huck said. “As birds get pressured, they’re going to talk a little bit less, especially when they’re on the ground, so just making sure that folks are finding birds on the roost either at night or in the mornings is going to be important. Just because (hunters) don’t hear gobbles during the day doesn’t mean birds aren’t around.”

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