Have a safe, successful spring turkey hunt

MADISON, WI - Approximately 80,000 hunters will be heading to the field for the 2018 spring turkey hunting season, with the first period starting April 18.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden and Hunter Education Administrator Jon King says there are two key factors needed for safe turkey hunting.
"The two most critical ingredients for a successful spring hunt are a detailed hunting plan in one hand and a firm grip on firearm safety in the other," King said.
DNR statistics show 80 percent of accidents during turkey hunting seasons involve hunters mistaking other hunters for game, or hunters failing to positively identify their target.
The other 20 percent of accidents are self-inflicted, usually the result of violating one of the four firearm safety rules.
"Turkey hunters, like all hunters, must practice these four basic safety guidelines when handling their firearms," King said. "Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be sure of your target and what's beyond it, and keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot."
It's a good idea to wear a blaze orange cap or gloves while walking. And find a hunting spot that allows you to rest your back against a tree or some other object that is as wide as your shoulders. This helps protect you from not only an errant shot, but from the good vision of the turkey.
Never stalk a wild turkey and don't try to approach closer than 100 yards to a gobbler. The chances of getting close enough for a shot are slim, but the chances of becoming involved in an accident are increased. The less you move, the safer and more effective you will be in field.
Follow these simple rules for a safe and successful hunt:
* Identify your target; it's not a good enough reason to take a shot when hunters only think they are seeing a legal target.
* Do not shoot at sound and movement.
* Be certain of your target, what's in front of it and beyond it.
* Avoid wearing red, white and blue. These colors are also shared by gobblers.
* Use gobble calls only to locate a tom, not to attract one. Some other hunter might think you're a turkey.
* Keep hands and head camouflaged when calling.
* Never carry or move an uncovered decoy.
"Continuing Wisconsin's safe hunting tradition is a shared responsibility of all hunters," King said.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Despite snow, spring turkey season begins Wednesday

In 1978, Minnesota held its first turkey hunt in modern history. During that season, a lucky 420 hunters drew permits. Since then, interest in pursuing these big game birds has expanded along with their population and range.
Last spring some 50,000 turkey permits were issued, and hunters registered nearly 12,000 birds.
“Wild turkeys are now found almost everywhere in Minnesota,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator. “It’s true that wild turkeys can be a challenging species to hunt, but getting started as a turkey hunter isn’t difficult. Camouflage, a shotgun, an inexpensive call and a license are all you really need.”
Minnesota’s excellent turkey hunting is a management success story. Due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting, the state’s last native turkey was spotted in 1880. After several re-introduction attempts dating back to the 1920s, successful trap and transplant efforts began in 1971.
Historically, wild turkeys were found primarily in the forested river valleys of southeastern Minnesota, but favorable habitat has allowed for the expansion of the wild turkey’s range to include most of the state.
“Recent changes have made it easier for more people to get started turkey hunting,” Burnham said. “Archery hunters and youth hunters are exempt from the lottery, and licenses for a large portion of the season can be purchased by anyone.”
The season runs from April 18, to May 31, and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F. Hunt A and B licenses for firearms hunters age 18 and older are limited in availability and assigned via lottery drawing. Archery and youth hunters (under 18) are exempt from the lottery and may purchase a spring turkey license valid during all hunt periods, including hunts A and B. All licensed turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Visit mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for more information about turkey hunting in Minnesota.

2018 Spring Turkey Hunt Periods
Hunt A: April 18-24.
Hunt B: April 25-May 1.
Hunt C: May 2-8.
Hunt D: May 9-15.
Hunt E: May 16-22.
Hunt F: May 23-31.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

NRB approves 2018 migratory bird hunting season format

MADISON, WI - As a result of great scientific information and input from the public, migratory game bird hunters in Wisconsin pursuing ducks, geese, doves, woodcock and other migratory game birds will see some notable changes in 2018.
The final season framework was approved by the state Natural Resources Board at its April 11, meeting in Madison.
“These season frameworks were based on input we received from the public, input from conservation and hunting groups, and results from a waterfowl hunter survey,” said Taylor Finger, Department of Natural Resources migratory bird ecologist. “We expanded our outreach efforts in 2018 using social media to increase our engagement with our users, and we saw attendance at statewide public hearings double the and a nearly 400 percent increase in total comments received regarding the 2018 waterfowl season proposals.”
Finger notes the waterfowl season structure process is a perfect example of the important role the public can play in decision making, and thanks all those who submitted a comment or attended a meeting.
The first of the 2018 migratory game bird seasons will open with the early Canada goose, mourning dove and early teal seasons starting on Sept. 1. Regular waterfowl hunting seasons will include a 60-day duck season which will start with a statewide opener on Sept. 29, and 92-day regular goose season which will have two splits to allow hunting during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Highlights from the approved season structure include:
* North duck zone will open one week later than in previous years, resulting in a single statewide opener for the North, South and Mississippi zones on Sept. 29.
* Elimination of the Horicon Canada goose Management Zone (resulting in a single statewide regular goose zone).
* Increase in the daily Canada goose bag limit to three birds per day.
* A second split in the South Canada goose zone resulting in a goose season that is open during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
* And increase in the pintail daily bag limit (from one to two) based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service season framework.
As a reminder to Canada goose hunters, registration of Canada geese and in-field validation of the Canada goose hunting permit is no longer required.

Early season dates are:
* Early Teal - Sept. 1-7 (6 birds per day, Sunrise – Sunset Shooting Hours).
* Early Goose - Sept. 1-15 (5 birds per day).
* Mourning Dove - Sept. 1 to Nov. 29 (15 birds per day).
* Woodcock - Sept. 22 to Nov. 5 (3 birds per day).

Duck season dates and bag limits are:
* Opening day shooting hours would begin one-half hour before sunrise for all regular waterfowl hunting seasons.
* Youth Hunt - Sept. 15-16.
* North Zone - Sept. 29 to Nov. 27.
* South Zone - Sept. 29 to Oct. 7, and Oct. 13 to Dec. 2 (five-day split).
* Mississippi Zone - Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, and Oct. 13 to Dec. 4 (seven-day split, closed Oct. 6-12).
The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:
* Four mallards, of which only one may be a hen.
* One black duck.
* Two canvasbacks.
* Three wood ducks.
* Two pintails.
* Three scaup.
* Two redheads.
* Five mergansers can be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded.
Regular goose season dates
With the elimination of the Horicon Canada goose management zone, the state is now a single statewide Exterior goose hunting zone for the regular season. The Mississippi River is a sub-zone within the Exterior Zone.
For Canada goose hunters that have already purchased a Horicon Canada goose permit, your permit will still function as your regular Canada goose season authorization and does not require that you re-purchase an Exterior Zone goose permit.
Another change was made to the daily bag limits which increased from two geese per day to three geese per day during the regular Canada goose hunting season.
The Natural Resources Board also approved the incorporation of a second split in the Southern Zone regular Canada Goose season which would close the season down with the South Zone duck season and reopen again on Dec. 16, and run through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
* Exterior Zone (92 days total).
* North - Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
* South - Sept. 16 to Oct. 7 (5-day Split) and Oct. 13 to Dec. 2 (13-day split) and Dec. 16 – Jan. 3, 2019.
* Mississippi - Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 and Oct. 13 to Jan. 3.
For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin Conservation Congress Learn to Hunt Bear tag applications due

PRAIRIE DU SAC, WI – The Wisconsin Conservation Congress will once again award a bear harvest tag to a novice hunter based on the applications and essays which are due April 25.
The Learn to Hunt Bear Program (LTHB) is an opportunity to expose novice hunters to the hunting experience and recruit new hunters into the sport.  
The Conservation Congress is one of the statewide conservation organizations that are specifically issued a bear harvest tag through the LTH Bear Program. Each year the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is granted a tag with the express intent of awarding it to a deserving individual with the desire and interest in learning more about hunting bear.
Applicants must fill out and submit an application along with a brief essay describing why they would like to be considered to receive the bear harvest tag and why they would like the opportunity to hunt bear.
Learn to Hunt Bear events are open to anyone who is 10 years old or older who has not previously participated in a Learn to Hunt event for the species being hunted and no hunter education certification is required.
If you are a novice hunter, or know someone that would be interested in receiving the WCC’s LTH Bear Harvest Permit, please direct them to the WCC website. The link to the application can be found under the “Community Outreach” section. Applications must be postmarked by Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The successful applicant will be notified by May 12, 2018.

SOURCE: Wisconsin Conservation Congress

Get a free 'First Turkey Certificate'

MADISON, WI - To help commemorate a turkey hunter's first harvest or hunting experience, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides a free, personalized certificate available online.
Sign-up is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes online."Thousands of hunters take to the woods each year in Wisconsin to pursue the wild turkey, many for the first time," said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "The first hunt or first experience certificate is our way of saying congratulations to all of the first-time turkey hunters. We wish them all many more years of successful hunting."
After submitting an online form, first-time turkey hunters will receive a customized certificate with details of the hunt including a picture, the location, the bird's weight, beard length and more. Certificates will be sent electronically within a few weeks after submission.
First-time hunters can submit a certificate by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "first certificates."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Turkey Donation Program provides help for families in need

MADISON, WI - Now in its second year, the Turkey Donation Program returns this spring to provide hunters with an opportunity to donate a harvested turkey to families in need.
"This is a great opportunity for turkey hunters to participate in a sport they enjoy and at the same time provide food assistance to Wisconsin families across the state," said Noah Balgooyen, Department of Natural Resources Turkey Donation Program coordinator.
Donated turkeys are processed free of charge and the meat is provided to local food pantries. Hunters must donate the entire turkey carcass in order for the processing cost to be covered by the program (beard, tailfin, and spurs/feet may be kept). A log sheet is maintained at each processor to verify the donation.
Hunters can participate in the program by following three simple steps:
* Legally harvest and register a turkey.
* Field-dress the turkey and keep it in a cool location.
* Drop the turkey off at a participating processor, during regular business hours, by May 31, 2018 (call the processor first to make sure that they are prepared to accept the turkey).
Those interested in supporting the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs can voluntarily donate $1 or more to the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs to help cover meat-processing fees. To donate, visit any license sales location or donate online through a Go Wild account at GoWild.Wi.Gov.
For more information regarding the turkey donation program, including a list of participating processors, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "turkey donation."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

New plan fosters better understanding of deer management

Minnesota’s new deer plan sets a new statewide harvest target, increases citizen participation in deer management, and outlines ways to keep the population and habitat healthy.
The Department of Natural Resources is taking online public comments on the new plan now through Wednesday, May 9. Also, the DNR will hold 35 public meetings in April around the state so people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.
“We’re setting a course for deer management that encourages more dialogue among stakeholders, the public, and DNR staff,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our ultimate goal is to support our hunting traditions, better engage the public, and to maintain sustainable, healthy deer populations throughout Minnesota.”
Part of the plan outlines strategic ways the DNR will prioritize its resources and activities to meet the plan’s eight key goals, which range from keeping Minnesota deer healthy to ensuring biological and societal factors are considered in management decisions.
“The plan recognizes the diversity of interests, considers multiple objectives and is informed by the best available science,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations and programs manager. “It also factors in ways to reduce the negative impacts deer can have on people and the landscape.”
The plan establishes an annual statewide harvest target of 200,000 deer. Although only one of several performance measures outlined in the plan, the harvest target will help communicate how the DNR is meeting overall population goals through time.
In general, annual harvests less than 200,000 will indicate a need for more conservative regulations to rebuild deer populations. Harvests greater than 200,000 will suggest hunting regulations need to be liberalized so more deer are harvested to reduce populations.
“It’s important for people to know we’ll be measuring our performance in a variety of ways, from increased opportunities for public engagement to improving deer habitat and limiting disease,” McInenly said. “That strategy will inform us if objectives are being met and what areas need more work.”
McInenly added that the plan doesn’t address the details of specific regulations or operational issues, but rather plots a long-term strategic direction for managing the herd.
For more than a year, a 19-member citizen’s advisory group helped the DNR draft the deer plan. The group’s members had knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer and familiarity with different areas of the state.
 “I want to express the agency’s great appreciation for the substantial public input and work of committee members in developing the plan,” McInenly said.

Public can now comment on new plan
The public can comment on the proposed plan on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.
A questionnaire asks people to indicate their level of satisfaction with the purpose, mission, vision and goals of the plan and provides opportunity for people to give additional feedback on whether the plan reflects the conversation and public input over the last few years.
Also, the DNR’s 35 open-house meetings in April will help people understand the deer plan.
“The open houses provide an opportunity to learn more about the plan, ask questions, and meet the local staff who help manage wildlife and habitat,” McInenly said.
There will be no formal presentation at the meetings. Instead, local wildlife staff will provide handouts explaining the deer plan and process and will talk with attendees individually and in small groups. All meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m., and people can arrive anytime during the two-hour time frame.
Meetings are scheduled at the following locations:

* Baudette, Wednesday, April 18, Lake of the Woods School, 210 3rd Ave. NE, IT room.
* Bemidji, Tuesday, April 24, Bemidji City Hall, 317 4th St. NW.
Crookston, Monday, April 16, Crookston Public Library, 110 N Ash St.
* Detroit Lakes, Thursday, April 26, Minnesota State Community College, 900 Minnesota Highway 34, campus auditorium.
* Fergus Falls, Wednesday, April 18, Fergus Falls Area Wildlife Office, 1509 First Ave. N.
* Glenwood, Thursday, April 19, Glenwood Area Wildlife Office, 23070 North Lakeshore Drive.
* Karlstad, Tuesday, April 17, Lake Bronson State Park, Kittson County Road 28, Lake Bronson
* Park Rapids, Tuesday, April 17, Park Rapids Area Library, 210 1st St. W.
* Red Lake, Monday, April 16, Hayes Lake State Park, 48990 County Road 4, Roseau.
* Roseau, Tuesday, April 17, Roseau County Courthouse, 606 5th Ave. SW.
* Thief Lake, Wednesday, April 18, Thief Lake Area Wildlife Office, 42280 240th Ave. NE, Middle River.
* Thief River Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Thief River Falls Area Wildlife Office, 246 125th Ave. NE.

* Aitkin, Tuesday, April 17, Aitkin Area DNR Office, 1200 Minnesota Ave S.
* Brainerd, Wednesday, April 18, Brainerd Area DNR Office, 1601 Minnesota Drive, lower conference room.
* Cloquet, Wednesday, April 25, Carlton County Transportation and Tax Forfeit Land Department Building, 1630 County Road 61.
* Grand Rapids, Thursday, April 26, Grand Rapids Regional DNR Office, 1201 E Highway 2, upstairs conference room.       
* International Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Rainy River Community College, 1501 Highway 71, room H124.
* Tower, Wednesday, April 18, Mountain Iron Community Center, 8586 Enterprise Drive.
* Two Harbors, Thursday, April 26, Two Harbors Area Wildlife Office, 1568 Highway 2.

* Cambridge, Thursday, April 26, Cambridge Area Wildlife Office, 800 Oak Savanna Lane SW.
* Carlos Avery/Forest Lake, Tuesday, April 24, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, 5463 W Broadway, conference room.
* Little Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 19502 Iris Road.
* Mille Lacs, Monday, April 23, Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area Office, 29172 100th Ave.
* Rochester, Tuesday, April 24, Willow Creek Middle School, 2425 11th Ave. SE
* Sauk Rapids, Thursday, April 19, Sauk Rapids Area DNR Office, 1035 South Benton Drive.
* Shakopee, Tuesday, April 24, Shakopee Area Wildlife Office, 7050 E Highway 101.
* Vermillion, Wednesday, April 25, Rosemount Research & Outreach Center, 16085 Alverno Ave.
* Whitewater, Thursday, April 26, Whitewater Wildlife Management Area Office, 15035 Highway 74.

* La Qui Parle and Appleton, Tuesday, April 24, Lac Qui Parle Area DNR Headquarters, 14047 20th St. NW, Watson.
* Marshall, Tuesday, April 17, Marshall Area DNR Office, 1400 E Lyon.
* New London, Tuesday, April 17, MnDOT District 8, 2505 Transportation Road, Willmar.
* Nicollet, Monday, April 16, Nicollet Conservation Club, 46045 471st Lane.
* Owatonna, Thursday, April 19, Cabela's, 3900 Cabela Drive.
* Slayton/Talcot, Wednesday, April 18, Slayton Pizza Ranch, 2306 Broadway Avenue, Slayton.
* Windom, Thursday, April 26, Windom Community Center, 1750 Cottonwood Lake Drive.
For those who can’t make the meetings, the DNR is encouraging the public to contact their local wildlife manager for additional information or to address any questions they may have about the deer plan. A list of area wildlife offices is available online at mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.
Information about the deer plan, scheduled open houses, background information and a link to submit online comments are on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR