The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) population continues to grow in Minnesota. Like with reintroduction of the species in other states, and according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) Minnesota's gobblers are all over the state including the northern one-third, except in some very dry areas and far, far northern arboreal forest areas. We got this information by interviewing someone from the MNDNR. Having said that, and after speaking to "real world" Minnesota turkey hunters, the population of wild turkeys in Minnesota still are mainly in the southern one-third to about the "middle" of the state. The MNDNR representative also said that (he could not specifically verify this information, but we will assume it's true) birds in the 29-30 pound range are being harvested. Wow! Getting a wild turkey that big is sure worth a trip to the Gopher State.
It is estimated that the wild turkey population is about 75,000 birds, with some 13,000 harvested in the past year's spring hunt, and nearly 1,400 in the fall hunt. There are two hunting seasons—spring and fall - -along with a special youth only hunt. Tags/permits are allotted through applications. There are nearly 70 permit areas (PA's), and the fall hunt was just expanded to one, 30-day time period in all permit areas.
While the Gopher State wild turkey population is less than some neighboring states, the opportunities for a successful hunt increases each year. There is very careful scrutiny and hands-on efforts by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) to continue to increase the wild turkey population. The MNDNR website (indicia/contact information is listed at the conclusion of this article), has detailed information on permits, and regulations on its website, which is one of the most complete and informative in the nation.
When interviewing the representative of the MNDNR, we asked why the wild turkey population in neighboring Wisconsin was nearly ten times larger than in Minnesota. I'll paraphrase his answers accurately and will leave you to decide what they're worth:
1. The MNDNR person said that "Minnesota hunters aren't that interested in fall turkey hunting, because THERE IS SO MUCH ELSE TO HUNT (emphasis supplied). Really? And of course in neighboring states like Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois there are no other things to hunt in the fall, other than wild turkeys. Right? 'Nuff said.
2. As to why Wisconsin has such a huge turkey population as compared to Minnesota, this MNDNR person said that "Remember half of Wisconsin is south of Minnesota." Again, really? And this after the same person said that wild turkeys are all over Minnesota including the northern areas. 'Nuff said.
You draw your own conclusions, based on the information given to us by the MNDNR, and then talking to real world "live" hunters
Turkey weaponry includes shotguns, along with bow and arrow, and crossbows for disabled hunters, and specially rigged bows that will allow a disabled hunter to utilize same. We note that it is extremely difficult to find these items on the MNDNR website. They are there, but there is no table-of-contents in the 130 pages of regs that allows easy access or navigation for these particular questions on the web.
We would urge our readers to go through this site and select one of Minnesota's excellent wild turkey hunting guides. They know their own particular area, where the birds are, and how to hunt them. With relatively low populations of wild turkey, using a guide will exponentially increase your potential success.
The MNDNR also has extremely detailed harvest information for any of its PA's, and hunters can easily access this information on the MNDNR website. It'll tell you exactly the number of turkeys harvested in an area.
In addition, wild turkey hunters who visit Minnesota will be able to enjoy the warm hospitality of the area. Gopher Stater's are known for their welcoming and support of hunters.
Here's the contact information the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:
Web site: www.mndnr.gov. Address: DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040. Phone: 888-646-6367 (toll-free). There are four DNR regions and regional offices in Minnesota: Northwest, Northeast, Central, and Southern. The main DNR information center will be able to provide you contact info for each of them.