Fall turkey hunt expands for 1st time
WILLMAR -- When talking about turkey hunting, most people think about the spring season, when the toms are searching for females. Hunters lure the turkeys in by calling, hoping to lure a tom by imitating a willing female. But in the fall, there i...
WILLMAR -- When talking about turkey hunting, most people think about the spring season, when the toms are searching for females.
Hunters lure the turkeys in by calling, hoping to lure a tom by imitating a willing female.
But in the fall, there is no rut like there is for deer. Turkeys won't investigate the call of a female, so hunters have to use different tactics.
In recent history, there has only been a small section in the western third of Minnesota that held a fall turkey season -- the northern three-fourths of Lincoln and Lyon counties.
But this fall, for the first time in recent memory, there will be a number of permit areas with limited turkey hunting opportunities. In our area, the zones include all of Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties, plus most of Chippewa and Redwood counties, the southeastern quarter of Kandiyohi County and a section of Swift County.
"We do have a lot of turkeys down along the Minnesota River valley. Turkeys have expanded well down there. We just have good numbers," said Leroy Dahlke of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife office in Willmar. "We thought we'd try it and see what kind of success we'll have. I don't think we'll be in a real hurry unless we get a lot of complaints. Most people seem to be tolerating them just fine."
The 10 permit areas in western Minnesota have only five permits for each of the two seasons -- Oct. 18-22 and Oct. 25-29.
"The main idea behind the fall hunt is at least a symbolic effort at thinning the population down," Dahlke noted. "We just want to feel our way and see how the hunt goes and get people's reaction to it."
As mentioned before, fall hunting differs greatly from spring. Instead of sitting in a blind and making female noises with a call, waiting for the toms to investigate, hunters treat turkeys more like deer. They wait, and wait, and wait for a tom to cross their path.
"A few people that have done it aren't impressed, because you don't call them in," Dahlke said. "You wait for them to come by and shoot them."
While the turkey population remains strong since being re-introduced to Minnesota starting in 1973. But since complaints of nuisance turkeys have been few and far between in the area, there hasn't been a need for a fall season.
Dahlke said of the few complaints he's received, most have been turkey causing problems, but not much damage.
"One complaint was that they got into a feedlot and were competing with the cattle for food," he laughed.