Deadline to Apply for Prairie Chicken, Fall Turkey Hunts is July 25
Hunters who wish to apply for one of 186 permits for the 2008 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for one of 7,660 permits for the fall turkey hunt must do so by July 25. Applications are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Application materials and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/hunting. Successful applicants will be notified by mail after purchasing their permit at one of 1,800 Electronic License System agents across Minnesota.
Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program coordinator, said that there should be enough turkey hunting spots to meet the current demand and that the odds of being drawn are very high. In 2007, hunters harvested 695 turkeys in the fall hunt with hunter success typically about 25 percent.
Those applying for one of the 186 prairie chicken permits (an increase of four from last year) will have about a one-in-three chance of success, depending upon the area they choose.
In 2007, hunter success was 53 percent, with 122 prairie chickens harvested. Hunter success varies considerably from year to year, especially when poor weather prevents more hunters from going out in the field.
The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Oct. 18, is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters pay a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.
The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property in the areas to which they applied. New regulations implemented this year allow residents younger than 12 to apply for a prairie chicken license.
The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. This year, licensed prairie chicken hunters also will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens. Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar-looking species. To protect the prairie chicken population, small game hunters are prohibited from taking sharp-tailed grouse. Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.
Minnesota’s prairie chicken population increased substantially between 1997 and 2007 and now stands at more than 1,600 adult males. The DNR expects more than four times that number of birds in the fall population.
“Prairie restoration and protection programs have helped stabilize the bird’s population in recent years,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife coordinator. “The restoration of a regulated prairie chicken hunting season has helped build awareness and support for protecting and enhancing prairie and grassland habitats.”
Fall turkey hunters may apply for a permit to hunt in one of 65 open permit areas from Oct. 15-19 or from Oct. 22-26.
The application fee is $3, and licenses cost $18 for residents and $73 for nonresidents.
A $5 stamp validation fee is also charged for turkey hunters age 18 and older.
New regulations enacted this year reduced the minimum draw weight for bows to 30 pounds and allow crossbow use.