Elk hunters have more choices when applying for a license

The Department of Natural Resources is now accepting applications for elk hunting licenses in northwestern Minnesota for seasons that will be held from late August to early December.
This year’s seasons are structured to allow hunters to have more opportunities to harvest antlerless elk. The DNR is offering 44 elk licenses this year. Last year there were 27 offered. More seasons and license options are also available this year. The application deadline is June 12.
“There will be better odds of getting an antlerless license, and we hope hunters consider applying for one of these licenses,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “Elk meat is delicious and fills far more freezer space than a white-tailed deer.”
The DNR is allowing hunters to choose from three options when they apply to harvest elk: a license for a bull elk; a license for an antlerless elk, which can be a female or a young male; or a license for either a bull or antlerless elk. Additional hunting seasons will spread out hunting effort, from late August to early December.
The 44 elk hunting licenses offered this year are in either the Kittson central zone (zone 20), with 42 licenses, or Kittson northeast zone (zone 30), with two licenses. Hunts in these zones focus on the Kittson Central herd, which is increasing.
The dates for the 2020 Minnesota elk season are:
* Saturday, Aug. 22, to Sunday, Aug. 30: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20) zone.
* Saturday, Sept. 5, to Sunday, Sept. 13: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20) zone and two bull-only tags will be available in the Kittson northeast (zone 30) zone.
* Saturday, Sept. 19, to Sunday, Sept. 27: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).
* Saturday, Oct. 3, to Sunday, Oct. 11: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).
* Saturday, Oct. 24, to Sunday, Nov. 1: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).
* Saturday, Dec. 5, to Sunday, Dec. 13: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).
The DNR uses hunting as the main tool to manage elk populations, with harvest of female elk the focus of keeping populations within goal range.
The new license options give better odds of getting a license to hunters who want to harvest an antlerless elk. Antlerless applicants are now put in a separate pool of applicants. In the past, hunters willing to harvest an antlerless elk needed to compete in the lottery against hunters who only planned to harvest a bull.

2 state herds increasing
There are currently three recognized herds in northwestern Minnesota – Grygla, Kittson Central, and Caribou-Vita – and counts for Grygla and Kittson Central were higher this year, continuing an upward population trend.
This year, the DNR counted 126 elk in most of the state’s elk range in Kittson, Marshall and Beltrami counties. The Grygla and Kittson Central herd counts were 24 and 102 elk, respectively. The Caribou-Vita herd was last surveyed in 2018.
The Grygla and the Caribou-Vita herds remain below goal, which is why the Grygla area elk zone remains closed to hunting and minimal permits (two bull-only licenses) are available for the Caribou-Vita zone. The Kittson Central herd is above goal, providing this year’s hunting opportunities. Minnesota’s elk management plan sets a population goal range for each of the three herds.

Applying for a license
It is important that hunters review the season structure on the DNR website before entering the elk season lottery, to make sure they apply for the license they want.
Hunters must select the type of elk license they are applying for: bull-only (two licenses available), either-sex (18 licenses available) or antlerless only (24 licenses available), in addition to the zone and season. Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two online or by telephone 888-665-4236. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $5 per hunter.
More information is available on the DNR’s elk hunting page. For more on Minnesota’s elk, visit the DNR’s elk management page.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin elk hunt application deadline May 31

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin hunters have until May 31 to apply for a chance to participate in northern Wisconsin’s 2020 elk hunt.
This fall marks the third official elk hunt in state history.
Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Thanks to the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsinites, the herd is back. Elk hunting season is open Oct. 17-Nov. 15, and Dec. 10-18. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
Wisconsin residents can submit elk tag applications through the Department of Natural Resources’ Go Wild license system. Each potential hunter may apply once online or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. In addition, one bull tag is raffled off by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets a hunter may purchase. An elk hunting license is $49 for those who draw a tag.
“More than 60,000 Wisconsinites applied during the first two years of managed elk hunting, and we’re looking forward to another great hunt in 2020,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. “You never know, you just might be the next lucky hunter out there.”
For each application, $7 goes to elk management and research in Wisconsin. During the first two hunting seasons, applicants generated over $400,000. These funds are already being used to enhance elk habitat, which benefits the elk herd and many other wildlife species that call the Northwoods home. Funding also contributes to ongoing elk research and monitoring.
Hunters who draw a tag will be notified in early June. Prior to obtaining the $49 elk hunting license, all winners are required to participate in a Wisconsin elk hunter education program offered in early September. The class will cover regulations, hunting techniques and more.
The 2020 hunting season is only available for the northern elk herd. Although the state's central elk herd has grown steadily since reintroduction in 2015 and is projected to reach approximately 100 elk this summer after calving, hunting is not recommended for the central herd in 2020.
Wisconsin's elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:
* Season open from Oct. 17 to Nov. 15, 2020, and Dec. 10-18, 2020.
* Only bull elk may be harvested.
* Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
* An elk tag may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years old or younger or an eligible Wisconsin resident disabled hunter.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR's elk webpage or by searching the DNR website using keyword “elk.”
To receive email updates on current translocation efforts, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sponsors for deer hunters with disabilities sought

MADISON, Wis. – Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a unique hunting opportunity for disabled hunters are reminded of the fast-approaching June 1 deadline to enroll their lands in the 2020 Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities.
Sponsors are encouraged to enroll at least 60 acres of land and must allow at least three disabled hunters access during the hunt, which occurs from Oct. 3-11.
In 2019, more than 85 landowners in 42 counties enrolled roughly 70,000 acres of hunting land, providing opportunities for more than 430 participants to enjoy hunting when the weather is more conducive to mobility in the woods for people with particular challenges.
Online applications are available on the DNR website. If you do not have online access, please contact Matthew Gross, DNR Assistant Big Game Ecologist, directly for a physical copy.
A full list of hunt sponsors will be available on the DNR website after June 10. Interested hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible to determine space availability. Each hunter may enroll to hunt no more than one property per year and must do so no later than Sept. 1.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Xiong to receive DNR Ethical Hunter Award

Hank Xiong, 29, of Oshkosh, Wis., will be presented the 2019 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award by DNR Administrator April Dombrowski, and Shamus Terry, of Vortex Optics, in Barneveld, Wis.
The public presentation will be held at a later date at Vortex Optics Headquarters, the corporate sponsor of the award. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony is being rescheduled for summer.
Vortex Optics, a worldwide company gifts the ethical hunter an item from their line of rifle scopes, binoculars and range finders.  
Xiong (pictured) was able to find the rightful owner of a crossbow left in a parking lot in the White River Marsh Wildlife Area in Green Lake and Marquette counties, where Jim Bonney, of Franklin, Wis., left it the previous day.
Xiong met Bonney early the previous morning when the two parties set out to hunt deer during the Wisconsin archery/crossbow season. When Xiong returned at the end of his hunt, Bonney’s vehicle was still parked there, but he returned from the woods shortly thereafter.
“We went looking for a deer my uncle shot and by the time we returned, Jim’s vehicle was gone, but there was a crossbow setting near where he had parked,” Xiong said. “We talked about the best way to get it back to the rightful owner, who we believed to be Jim, the person we had just met.”
Leaving the crossbow there or taking it to a local sheriff’s office crossed Xiong’s mind as he talked with his hunting partners.
“We waited for an hour and no one returned that evening, so I took the crossbow, posted a note on Facebook, and then stopped by a sheriff’s office to report the incident,” Xiong said. “I agreed to try to find the owner.”
The next day Xiong returned to the parking lot, about 40 miles from his Oshkosh home.
“Jim drove in a bit later, about 2 p.m., and had a big grin on his face when I handed him the crossbow,” Xiong said. “Jim thanked me and we exchanged phone numbers agreeing to keep in contact.”
Xiong retold a story about his own bow misfortune when he was younger. He had left his archery gear in the back of his father’s covered truck box and the next morning when he drove out to hunt deer, he discovered the bow was missing.
“I was devastated,” Xiong said. “It was the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else. Hunting is a big part of what I do with my free time. I saved and saved to get that bow and finally got a day off work from my seven-day job, but couldn’t hunt.”
Bonney did kill a deer that opening morning and eventually found the doe after dark.
“I went back to the parking lot the next morning thinking maybe the bow was still there, but nothing," he said. "Then I came back that afternoon and saw Hank and he handed me my bow and took my picture.”
Bonney was relieved.  
“I liked the bow, shot a few deer with it and am grateful Hank made the effort to get it back to me,” Bonney said.
The awards committee receives nominations from the public during a calendar year and then meets in early February to select the winning nomination.
In addition to Dombrowski of the WDNR, and Steve Dewald, a retired La Crosse area DNR warden, Bob Lamb, retired La Crosse Tribune outdoors editor, and Jerry Davis, a retired biology professor, from Barneveld, make up the selection committee.
“Hank demonstrated behavior that reflects positively on the tradition of hunting in Wisconsin. His concern for another hunter losing equipment was very admirable,” Dewald said.
“Hank is the epitome of the award’s intent, going well beyond what he did for another hunter,” Lamb said.
More about the nomination process and the award can be obtained by contacting any committee member or Wisconsin conservation warden.
A Wisconsin hunter, of any age, and hunting any game species, is eligible to be nominated by another individual. Nominations for the 2020 award are due Jan. 15, 2021.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112

Minnesota turkey hunting begins this week

When turkey hunting season opens April 15 in Minnesota, hunters who want to bag a tom turkey are encouraged to stay close to home.
“We understand that hunting close to home might require hunters to make some adjustments,” said Leslie McInenly, wildlife populations program manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “This will be a little easier because this year’s turkey licenses have more built-in flexibility.”
Recent regulation changes mean hunters will no longer be restricted to a single permit area. So if hunters had bought a license with plans to travel to their usual hunting location, they can still use the same license to hunt close to home, even in a different permit area than usual.
Another change that adds flexibility allows a hunter to purchase a license for any of the turkey hunting time periods without applying early.
Applications were required in January, though, for firearms hunters age 18 and older who wanted to hunt in the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas (WMA).
Gov. Tim Walz’s Stay at Home Order (Executive Order 20-33) allows people to be outdoors, engaging in activities such as walking, running, and fishing and hunting. Minnesotans can continue to enjoy parks and other public recreation lands. The DNR urges outdoor enthusiasts to stay close to home, not congregate when outdoors, and follow social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health.
“If you’re planning to hunt at a WMA or other public land, make sure to practice social distancing. If you see a crowded parking lot or expect an area will be crowded, find another close-to-home location to hunt,” McInenly said.
One way to search for public hunting land is using the DNR Recreation Compass.

Both hunters and non-hunters should be careful on WMAs as there is no blaze orange requirement for spring turkey hunting.
Hunters must be sure of their target and what is beyond. Those who might be in WMAs should not wear any visible article of clothing into the turkey woods that contains the colors white, red or blue. Hunters don’t wear these colors because turkeys will spot them. Non-hunters should not wear them because they are associated with the head of a male turkey – and that can lead to hunting accidents.
Hunters should follow the basic rules of firearms safety. Again, be sure of your target and what’s beyond. Treat each firearm as if it is loaded. Control the muzzle of your firearm. And keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

License and season details
Hunters can purchase a license on the DNR website or by telephone by calling 888-665-4236. People can also purchase licenses in person at license agents that remain open, such as convenience stores. The DNR encourages people to purchase licenses online or by phone if possible. Because turkey hunters need the physical tag, they should plan for 7-10 days to allow their license to arrive in the mail, unless they purchase it in person.
The DNR annually monitors hunter participation and turkey harvest. In 2019, the agency considered recent season participation, hunter interest in lotteries, harvest levels and public comment on potential season changes. Public input indicated high levels of hunter support for greater flexibility in hunting location as well as increased opportunities to purchase licenses over the counter rather than through the lottery.
Turkey season runs from April 15 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F (Hunt A: April 15-21; Hunt B: April 22-28; Hunt C: April 29-May 5; Hunt D: May 6-12; Hunt E: May 13-19; Hunt F: May 20-31). Firearms turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods or if they choose to purchase a license for that time period.
Archery-only license holders may still hunt any close-to-home permit area for the entire season (April 15-May 31). Hunters cannot purchase both a firearms and archery-only license. Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger may hunt any close-to-home permit area statewide for the entire season (April 15-May 31) with firearms or archery equipment.
Because there was no lottery for spring wild turkey licenses outside the three major-unit WMAs this year, the landowner and tenant drawing, which set aside a percentage of lottery licenses for landowners with qualifying land, was discontinued, and landowners and tenants can purchase licenses like other turkey hunters.
Full wild turkey hunting regulations, including details on turkey registration, shooting hours and legal firearms as well as helpful turkey hunting tips and safety can be found on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Bear hunt application deadline May 1

Prospective Minnesota bear hunters have until Friday, May 1, to apply for a bear hunting license.
Applications for the 2020 season should be submitted online or via telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,575 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents, and there is a $5 application fee. The season is open from Sunday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 18.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available over the counter starting at noon on Aug. 5.
New for the 2020 season, the DNR has made a change to bear permit area 45. The southern portion of permit area 45 has been subdivided to create a new bear permit area (451) to allow additional bear hunting opportunities. Area 451 licenses are not awarded by lottery drawing and will be available to any eligible hunters starting Wednesday, Aug. 5. Bear hunters in permit area 451 do not need to apply in the lottery.
An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be sold over-the-counter for the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in the no-quota area. Hunters with a no-quota license can harvest one bear.
The number of available bear permits is increasing modestly in the southern and western portion of bear management areas. Overall, bear permit numbers for quota areas remain mostly unchanged this year to allow bear population numbers to gradually increase and support a robust bear population. Bear hunting information is available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Spring turkey season begins April 15

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order recognizes outdoor activity as an essential activity. As such, the 2020 spring turkey season will proceed without changes to the season dates or management zones under the Safer at Home order.
Due to COVID-19, distance is critical. Social distancing - the practice of always staying 6 feet away from others outside of household members - is vital to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Turkey hunting in Wisconsin is designed to minimize hunter contact and is usually a solitary outdoor activity. The purpose of permitting by time period spreads people out in different by time and the purpose of zones spreads people out spatially, resulting in a high-quality hunt.
All current regulations for the season apply. Licensed hunters should hunt the zone and period stated on their harvest authorization.
"Hunting and fishing provides us an opportunity to interact with nature. Hunting and fishing traditions run deep in Wisconsin," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "It's these traditions that allow us to have a moment of normalcy during this extraordinary time. Remember to be more than safe."
There are still turkey hunting permits available in five of the seven management zones covering most of the state. This provides opportunities for people to select new zones to reduce travel distances and stay closer to home. Permits are available online.
The remaining permits are generally for later in the season, which is an excellent opportunity to spend time in the woods during the spring season when the hunting can also be very good. All sales directly benefit critical conservation efforts including developing, managing, preserving, restoring and maintaining the wild turkey population in Wisconsin.
Hunting with household family members is still allowed under the emergency order. Social distancing applies to mentored hunts. Because mentors must be within arm's reach of their mentee, the need for social distancing prohibits hunters from mentoring someone outside of their household.
We encourage all spring turkey hunters to adhere to the Safer at Home order's guidelines regarding social distancing. If you encounter a fellow hunter or any other individuals while out hunting, provide at least six feet of space to pass.
The 2020 spring turkey season will run April 15-May 26, with six seven-day periods beginning Wednesday through the following Tuesday. All seven turkey management zones will be open for hunting.
Youth under the age of 16 may hunt during the spring youth turkey hunt April 11-12. Hunters under the age of 12 and youth without hunter safety can participate in the youth turkey hunt under the Mentored Hunting Program.
Youth must be accompanied by a qualified adult and follow the youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Under the Safer at Home order, mentors and mentees should be from the same household. Youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization.
A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.
Regulations, harvest registration information and other helpful turkey hunting information can be found on the DNR website.
Under the Safer at Home order, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. The public should stay as close to home as possible and avoid travel outside of their community to help flatten the curve.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For the latest updates, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.
For specific information regarding the COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR