Spring turkey hunt growing in popularity in Carlton County
What is fast becoming one of the most anticipated hunting season openers of the year in Carlton County is about to begin. Next Wednesday, April 14, at approximately one-half hour before sunrise, the spring turkey season will officially get under way.
According to Corey Schneberger of the Carlton County Cutters Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, successful lottery winners will have the opportunity to try their luck at a sport he called "one of the most exciting I've experienced."
Schneberger said birds that are true wild turkeys (as opposed to tame birds illegally released into the wild) are illusive and skittish enough to make their pursuit a true challenge for hunters.
Though wild turkey hunting has long been a mainstay in southern Minnesota and surrounding regions, Schneberger said Carlton County has only had an official turkey hunting season for the past couple of years, and interest continues to grow heading into the 2010 season.
The number of turkey hunting licenses is limited throughout the state in order to regulate harvest and distribute hunting pressure. Prospective hunters must first apply to become part of an advance lottery drawing.
Carlton County is part of permit zones 156 (south of Highway 210 and west of I-35) and 183 (east of I-35), which include parts of Pine and Aitkin counties as well.
Minnesota has both a spring turkey hunt and two fall hunts. The spring season includes time periods running from April 14-18, April 19-23, April 24-28, April 29-May 3, May 4-8, May 9-13, May 14-20, May 21-27; the first fall season runs Oct. 13-17; and the second fall season runs Oct. 20-24.
Some 15-30 permits are issued by lottery for Zone 156 for each of the spring hunt time periods, and 5-25 are issued in Zone 183, with the larger numbers reserved for late May.
Hunters are limited to taking one bearded turkey per season using a 20-gauge or larger shotgun, muzzle loader, No. 4-diameter or smaller fine shot or legal bow and arrow.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 76 permits were issued in Zone 156 during the 2009 season and hunters registered a harvest of 29 turkeys for a success rate of 38 percent. In Zone 183, 42 permits were issued with a harvest of 16 turkeys, for a success rate of 38 percent.
Applications for the fall turkey hunting lottery will be available beginning in mid-June, and the deadline is the last Friday in July. For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.state.mn.us.