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Applications open for Minnesota prairie chicken hunt lottery

Hunters can apply through Friday, Aug. 17, to be chosen for one of 125 permits for the 2018 Minnesota prairie chicken hunting season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The nine-day prairie chicken season begins Saturday, Sept. 29, and is open only to Minnesota residents.

“Prairie chicken numbers are influenced by the amount of grassland habitat within the range and provide a limited, but unique, hunting opportunity in northwestern Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations program manager.

Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $23. Apply at any DNR license agent; the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul; online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional fee is charged for orders placed online or by phone.

The hunt takes place in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied. The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Based on hunter surveys, the DNR estimates that 97 hunters harvested 86 prairie chickens during the 2017 hunt. Results of spring booming ground surveys will be available later this summer.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens, but prairie chicken hunters who want to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse. Sharptails and prairie chickens look similar and sharp-tailed grouse hunting is normally closed in this area of the state to protect prairie chickens that might be taken accidentally.

Applications are available wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold and application procedures and a permit area map are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/prairiechicken.