Hunters hoping to bag a tom turkey with a firearm this spring will see similar regulations as last year, and will not be restricted to a single permit area. A spring turkey license will provide the opportunity to hunt all permit areas in the state, with the exception of three major wildlife management areas.
Hunters have through Friday, Feb. 12, to apply for permits available by lottery to hunt in the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas. Beginning March 1, all spring turkey hunters can purchase a license over the counter.
“We had really good participation last spring; license sales increased 36%, up 6,000 over 2019,” said Leslie McInenly, wildlife populations program manager with the DNR. “This year we are carrying forward the changes we made last year.”
Making up the increase last year was a 59% increase in youth license sales, while archery and adult firearms license sales increased 24% and 20%, respectively. Hunters harvested 13,996 birds, the highest harvest recorded since modern wild turkey hunting began in 1978 but similar to the 2010 harvest of 13,467 birds. The average harvest over the past 10 years has been 11,400.
“We’re happy to see that people took advantage of the more flexible license structure last year and are looking forward to this spring,” McInenly said. “Wild turkey restoration is a great conservation success story and the expansion of their populations in Minnesota has allowed us to continue allow flexibility in hunting regulations.”
2021 season details
Turkey season will be from April 14 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F (dates are in table below). Firearms hunters 18 and older must choose their hunt period when they purchase a license. Firearms turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Firearms turkey hunters ages 18 and older who are interested in a permit to hunt in Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas during A through C seasons will be required to apply for a lottery. The deadline to apply for those high-demand areas is Feb. 12. Successful applicants may hunt statewide, with the exception of the other two lottery areas, in addition to their selected wildlife management area.
Archery-only license holders may still hunt statewide for the entire season (April 14-May 31). Hunters cannot purchase both a firearms and archery-only license.
Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger may hunt statewide for the entire season (April 14-May 31) with firearms or archery equipment.
Because there is no lottery for statewide spring wild turkey licenses, the landowner and tenant drawing, which had set aside a percentage of lottery licenses in each permit area for landowners with qualifying land, was discontinued, and landowners and tenants can purchase licenses like other turkey hunters.
Turkey lottery applications for the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas cost $5 and can be purchased online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, by phone at 888-665-4236, or in person from a license agent. Successful applicants will receive a notice in the mail and can purchase their hunting license starting March 1.
More information about turkey hunting in Minnesota can be found on the DNR website.
2021 Spring turkey hunt periods
Hunt A: April 14-20
Hunt B: April 21-27
Hunt C: April 28-May 4
Hunt D: May 5-11
Hunt E: May 12-18
Hunt F: May 19-31