A rite of spring in Minnesota, historic turkey season set to open

The recent snowstorm will inevitably be a factor when the Minnesota spring turkey hunting season opens Wednesday, April 18, along with more wintery weather that’s expected to greet hunters across the state on the opener.

But in related stories and across social media, the buzz centers around how far this hunt has come in the last five decades – and the excitement that has come to accompany the hunt, whether it involves this special 50-year anniversary of the first modern-day Minnesota turkey hunt or not.

In 1978, Minnesota held its first turkey hunt in modern history. During that season, 420 hunters drew permits. Since then, interest in turkey hunting has expanded along with their population and range: Last spring, some 50,000 turkey permits were issued, and hunters registered nearly 12,000 birds, the Minnesota DNR said in a news release.

Due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting, the state’s last native turkey was spotted in 1880, the release said. 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.

The season runs from April 18 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F:

  • 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

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 may participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.

For more information on turkey hunting in Minnesota, click here.

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