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portageman

Public Land for Spring Turkeys

9 posts in this topic

A buddy and I plan on hunting turkey Spring '08 for the first time. We are complete rookies - at least we have some time to prepare. One of the first orders of business will be finding a place to hunt. Nobody has offered up any private land, so we have been looking into WMA's. Any suggestions???? confused.gif

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Check out Whitewater State Management Area

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Portageman:

First order of priority is deciding which permit area to put in for. You've got some time, usually early December is when the deadline is set for lottery applications. Remember that the lottery is just that, and either one or both of you may not receive a tag. That said, there are strategies to virtually guarantee that you'll get a tag in MN for whichever area you decide to hunt. Stay tuned, as myself and I'm sure many others will chime in with some good strategies for selecting a time period.

Regarding permit area, you need to hunt where the birds are. I feel the DNR does a fine job of assessing the turkey population in each of its permit areas, and you can look at the quotas per time period and permit area on the MN DNR website.

You also need to factor in permission. While WMAs and other public lands (esp. the Whitewater as mentioned) can hold many turkeys, you need to factor in drive-times and competition. Private lands require much, much more work in obtaining permission, but properly scouted and secured I think they offer a better chance at birds throughout the season; esp. if applying for a later season tag to ensure getting picked.

Start driving through the area(s) you plan to hunt and get an idea what areas the turkeys are using now. Do it at different times of the day, esp. early morning. Chances are at this time of year it'll be hayfields and switching to corn and other high-protein food sources. Realize that they'll overwinter near corn and these high-yield food sources and probably end up somewhere nearby (interpret in miles, not yards). Keep in mind that this work will be more relevant and more efficient if you do it this winter and early spring. Freshest information is best. If you're looking to space out the work, or get a head start, go for it now!

Narrow down your search by pinpointing ridge locations with good roost trees (burr oaks, maples, leaning basswood) as well as water. Out of the way and unfettered (meaning unseen by the road) means turkeys will be comfortable all day long, so look beyond just roads and gaze at aerial photos.

Locate several flocks of birds at least a mile or more apart from another and research plat books and other maps to target biggest bang for your buck permission. There are lots of permission strategies, and I'll be going over a few of these this winter. This way, you'll have several locations to go to should the birds be absent or unwilling to play nicely.

Sound like alot of work? It is, but it's also not required. It's best case scenario. I'd say, do as much as you can and are willing, especially if willing to go the private land route. Like anything, you get what you put into it, but not all of us have the luxury, interest, or time of being able to put that much in.

As mentioned, stay tuned as there'll be plenty of turkey hunting crazies like myself crawling out of the woodwork when spring apps. are due.

Joel

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Thanks for the info Joel. I noticed you are doing a seminar at Gander in Oct. Will you be doing a seminar in the spring? I am trying to learn as much as possible before giving this a whirl. Its something I have been wanting to do for a while, and I am tired of just thinking about it - its time to start DOING it.

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You bet, most likely I'll be doing several. Probably a basic and then an advanced one.

I applaud your efforts in rolling up your sleeves and getting to it. It's refreshing to see this attitude, and I promise that the quality and success (broadly defined) of your hunt will reflect it.

I'd also recommend the DNR Wild Turkey Clinics. One will be offered near you this coming spring, wherever you are in MN. This past year was my first year teaching them, and I'm pleasantly surprised with the breadth and depth of content the DNR provides with those courses. Very worthwhile.

Joel

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Great advice! I'ld just add that many farmers hate turkeys and permission is often granted to those who ask politely.

It is not too early to start scouting, just a road trip or two into likely areas. That said, I would NOT start asking farmers this time of the year, or again in the spring when they are VERY busy.

Mid to late winter is prime time to actually talk to farmers as they have much more time on their hands.

Agreed the DNR seminars are good. Most of the bigger sporting goods stores also have their own weekends filled with turkey talk. Better advice is to join a local chapter of the NWTF and get involved. These people live for the sport.

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I shot my first gobbler last year on public land. I did deal with other hunters there, but the size of the land made a big difference.

I chose a new zone because it was larger, offered more land to scout, and had more permits. Also, check the calender when filling out your permit app. I chose a "B" season last year and got in on the first draw, main reason was my season was Monday-Friday. Most people won't take weekdays off work to turkey hunt. This also has a huge impact on hunting pressure on public land. There were many more cars at my spot on the weekends before my season and later when I went back with a friend for bow season.

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Donbo: - Good information on asking permission, I agree.

Powerstroke raises a good point, that weekday seasons are typically less-applied for. However, before getting too attached to any one season, you need to know the frequency with which others apply for specific seasons in your permit area of interest. Even though A, B, or C may fall entirely within weekdays, there are several permit areas that I've hunted where your odds of pulling a tag have historically been between 30-50% for A-C; weekday or weekend. An application then for any of those time periods yielded you a tag once every 2-3 years then, on-average.

For years I would special-request this information from the DNR to get a leg up on the competition, and now they post it on the web, much to my dismay smile.gif.

When analyzing past application data, you need calendars from a few years back, to see if certain periods were under-applied for on account of: weekdays, mother's day, WI/MN fishing openers, trout opener, etc. After awhile, a pattern usually emerges for the area you wish to hunt.

One must also take into account the phases of the breeding season. Even though A-C are typically the most heavily applied for time periods, there's usually at least one week, and up to two, where peak breeding occurs. Toms are frustratingly henned-up, and you almost need to ambush them if you want to punch your tag. I've also hunted a B-season in snow....which was interesting.

The pros to an earlier season are birds that have been lightly or not-at-all hunted, less bugs, and many times harder gobbling.

As mentioned, a bunch of us will be covering the details regarding permitting once the time draws closer.

Joel

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Also regarding the public land I like to get an atlas with those lands identified. Don't be afraid to check out even the smallest areas as some of them will hold birds. The only way to know is to get in there and do some scouting in the spring after the flocks breal up.

Good Luck!

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