State takes aim at turkey rules; Hope is to give hunters more chances

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, December 15, 2015

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s new wild turkey regulations will give hunters more time to bag a bird starting next spring, wildlife managers said Monday.

The state’s spring turkey-hunting time periods will be longer than before, all will include weekends, and more will be available to each hunter, the Department of Natural Resources announced. Five one-week periods will be followed by one longer period ending May 31.

Previously, Minnesota’s spring wild turkey season had eight time periods, and not all included weekends. The bag limit will remain one bearded turkey.

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The DNR said in a statement that it made the changes in hopes of increasing hunter opportunity and satisfaction. The agency considers the restoration of wild turkeys over the past 25 years to be one of its great success stories. Once rare, the birds are becoming a common sight in southern, western and central Minnesota.

Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife populations program manager, says one significant change will be that hunters who don’t bag a turkey during their first time period can hunt in the same zone during the last period using their original licenses.

That should reduce the chances of lost opportunities due to snow or rainstorms, he said.

Firearms hunters who want to hunt during either of the first two time periods will need to enter into a lottery to participate. Applications open Dec. 14 and close Jan. 22.

The DNR said spring turkey seasons will begin on the Wednesday closest to April 15, and each period will start on a Wednesday. The first period in 2016 begins April 13. Each year, the final period will end May 31.