Gobble Up Some Minnesota Wild Turkey Action

By C. B. Bylander

Enjoy turkey hunting? Then you will enjoy Minnesota.

Eastern Wild Turkey - photo National Wild Turkey Federation
Eastern Wild Turkey - (c) National Wild Turkey Federation

Wild turkeys are abundant here, and so is public hunting land. Purchasing a license is easy, too: You can buy one over the counter for all but the first two spring hunting periods. That means no lottery application process unless you want to be among the first in the woods.

Eastern strain wild turkeys were originally introduced in the rolling hills of southeastern Minnesota in the early 1970s. The state’s first hunt was held in 1978, with only 420 hunting permits issued. Today, following decades of stocking and natural reproduction, turkeys inhabit almost all of Minnesota except the vast pine and poplar forests of the far north.

Minnesota does not limit the total number of hunting permits it issues, though it does restrict hunter numbers in the first two spring hunting periods. Recent annual harvests have been about 11,000. Since 2000, about 30 percent of hunters bag a bird.

Turkey hunting has risen in popularity for many reasons. They are challenging to hunt due to their extreme wariness. They are also fun to hunt, especially in spring, because you call to adult toms and younger males, called jakes, and strategize based on their gobbling response. Moreover, you are never far from a wild turkey flock. And of course, they are popular table fare. A wild turkey is the ultimate free-range bird.

Places to Hunt

Minnesota has a vast system of county, state and federal forests that are open to turkey hunting, as well as an immense state Wildlife Management Area system. The location of these lands can be found using the DNR's Recreation Compass (view version for mobile browsers).

Wild turkeys have become an increasingly common sight across much of Minnesota (see turkey ranges and permit areas). With the exception of the heavy forest north of U.S. Highway 2, you're likely to spot the eastern wild turkey just about anywhere.

Be sure to get permission before hunting on private agricultural land or posted land.

Season Information

For more information on turkey hunting seasons, licenses and more, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.