Minnesota Spring Turkey Season Changes Create More Hunting Opportunities

photo courtesy of National Wild Turkey Federation
photo courtesy of National Wild Turkey Federation
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota -(Ammoland.com)- Hunters this spring will get more time to enjoy being outdoors while trying to bag a wild turkey, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.  

Turkey hunting time periods will be longer, all will include weekends and more time periods will be available to each hunter. Five one-week time periods will be followed by one longer time period ending on Tuesday, May 31. Previously, there were eight time periods, and not all included weekends. The bag limit will remain one bearded turkey.

The DNR made the changes following a public process, in hopes of increasing hunter opportunity and satisfaction while maintaining hunt quality.

“A significant change will be that hunters who don’t bag a turkey during their first time period will also be able to hunt the last time period using their original license,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager. “This will make the experience more relaxing, as snow or rain storms that could ruin an entire hunt will not be as much of a problem.”  

Hunters who hunt a second time during the last time period will need to hunt in the same zone that they hunted in during their first hunt period.

Firearms hunters who want to hunt either of the first two time periods will need to enter into a lottery to participate. In past years there were lottery drawings for the first three time periods. People can apply to the lottery starting Monday, Dec. 14, and the deadline to apply is Friday, Jan. 22.

In another change, archers will be able to hunt the entire season and in any zone from when the first time period begins on Wednesday, April 13, through May 31. Hunters must choose between a firearms or archery turkey hunting license.

Public process
The changes in the spring turkey season came about following a public process. The decision was informed by data from a 2014 statewide survey of adult turkey hunters. Four “Talking Turkey” dialogue sessions took place across the state in the fall, and the proposal was further refined after taking public comment in October. The DNR received 160 comments.

“The changes that begin this spring will provide more opportunity for hunters, but we are aware that some hunters are concerned that these changes will lead to crowding, negatively impacting hunt quality,” Merchant said. “For that reason, we remain committed to measuring hunter satisfaction and hunt quality so adjustments can be made in the future if necessary.”

Each year, the season will begin on the Wednesday closest to April 15, and each time period will start on a Wednesday. This year, the first time period begins April 13. Each year, the final time period will end on May 31. More information on turkey hunting is available at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.