A mere 30 years ago they could have never imagined that wild turkey hunting in Minnesota could become the booming sport that it is today. Indeed, when those first birds from Missouri were released down in the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, and at other satellite locations in S.E. Minnesota, it was with crossed fingers that wildlife managers expected to ever see a population explosion and the reintroduction of a majestic game bird to our state.
But sometimes with a little luck and some proper planning things will go better than expected. Way back when Minnesota was only a territory and still a destination only for explorers, reports have often referred to wild turkeys inhabiting the state. Still, through most of the 1800’s and 1900’s, Minnesota was largely a state without a wild turkey population. Even earlier during the 1900’s there were attempts to release birds into the wild…but the populations never took. If you were from Minnesota and wanted to seriously hunt wild turkeys, you needed to go to the western Dakota’s, down to the southern states, or out in the colonial states of the East Coast.
2005 SPRING HUNT
Minnesota’s spring 2005 turkey hunt will begin in mid-April, but if you want to hunt the birds you must apply at an ELS agent on or before Friday, December 3rd. Sportsmen can even apply online by clicking here.
If you’re familiar with how the turkey hunt has been conducted in Minnesota much has remained the same. This year there will be an additional 4,300 licenses given out in the permit areas so applicants stand an even better chance to draw a tag. A total of six 5-day seasons and two 7-day seasons later in the year will be held during the spring of 2005. For the first time ever, applicants in the last three seasons will be asked to choose a 2nd choice tag, but best of all they will not lose any preference points by doing that if their 2nd choice is awarded.
Archery hunters are also given some increased opportunities at turkeys this coming spring. Tags may be purchased for any zone that typically has over 50 or more permits available during the last two hunting time periods. Hunters applying who and are successful in getting a tag through the lottery, however, are exempt from the new spring archery license. Check out the Minnesota DNR web site for additional details.
No doubt about it in the 21st Century Minnesota is becoming a quality state for hunting turkeys. And if you are new to turkey hunting, there is no better time to hunt these wily birds than in the spring during mating season. But be forewarned…turkey hunting is highly addictive. I have often contended that a hunter who experiences a quality turkey hunt will be spoiled for other hunts. Turkey hunting holds a special interaction (calling) with the prey that just isn’t present with most other forms of hunting. One of the longest stretches of calling on a big tom I ever experienced lasted over 1 ½ hours. That’s over 90 minutes of heart-pounding excitement. With duck or goose hunting, your calling might last a few minutes. Same with predators…if you’ve called them for 20 minutes with no response…it’s likely time to move on to a new spot.
Most wild turkey addicts live and dream about wild turkeys all year long. I think it is only appropriate that the Minnesota DNR has its spring wild turkey deadline in early December so a hunter can spend the long winter months preparing and anticipating. After all, to be successful you can’t just pick up a mouth or a slate call and expect to be proficient right away. It takes much practice and patience to learn the proper, effective turkey calling techniques.
In Minnesota, the process to go spring wild turkey hunting begins by applying to an ELS agent and paying a $3 fee. The way I see it, this is a very small price to pay for a chance to celebrate one of the true wildlife conservation success stories of all time.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.