In 1978, Minnesota held its first turkey hunt in modern history. During that season, a lucky 420 hunters drew permits. Since then, interest in pursuing these big game birds has expanded along with their population and range. Last spring some 50,000 turkey permits were issued, and hunters registered nearly 12,000 birds.
“Wild turkeys are now found almost everywhere in Minnesota,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator. “It’s true that wild turkeys can be a challenging species to hunt, but getting started as a turkey hunter isn’t difficult. Camouflage, a shotgun, an inexpensive call, and a license are all you really need.”
Minnesota’s excellent turkey hunting is a management success story. Due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting, the state’s last native turkey was spotted in 1880. After several re-introduction attempts dating back to the 1920s, successful trap and transplant efforts began in 1971. Historically, wild turkeys were found primarily in the forested river valleys of southeastern Minnesota, but favorable habitat has allowed for the expansion of the wild turkey’s range to include most of the state.
“Recent changes have made it easier for more people to get started turkey hunting,” Burnham said. “Archery hunters and youth hunters are exempt from the lottery, and licenses for a large portion of the season can be purchased by anyone.”
The season runs from April 18 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F (see table below). Hunt A and B licenses for firearms hunters age 18 and older are limited in availability and assigned via lottery drawing. Archery and youth hunters (under 18) are exempt from the lottery and may purchase a spring turkey license valid during all hunt periods, including hunts A and B. All licensed turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Visit mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for more information about turkey hunting in Minnesota.
2018 Spring Turkey Hunt Periods
Hunt A: April 18 – 24
Hunt B: April 25 – May 1
Hunt C: May 2 – 8
Hunt D: May 9 – 15
Hunt E: May 16-22
Hunt F: May 23-31