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Which season?

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I'm trying to talk a buddy into trying turkey hunting this spring. We're looking real close at zone 249 south of Brainerd as his brother has some connections down there. Anyone hunt this area before and what season(s) do you think are best. I'm new to this turkey thing and only have 2 seasons under my belt, '00 in Iowa and '07 in WI. Any info would be greatly appreciated.


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Scott M

How's your work availability? The first thing I did for the MN seasons is figure out which seasons include a weekend, since I won't have the luxury of hunting mid-week like I did last year. Hopefully someone that has the "Northern" birds figured out will chime in as well....

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There are an incredible amount of variables that influence how I go about selecting a season, or set of seasons by priority. I'll do my best to outline an approach that's worked well for me in the past and hit most of the highlights.

Lottery Success - How dissappointed will you be if you don't get drawn? Or, in other words, do you need to be drawn this year, and are you willing to sacrifice an earlier season for a surer possibility of drawing a tag later in the season? Personally, I couldn't go a year without it, so I select seasons that are a sure thing.

Pressure - Pressure affects turkeys in many different ways, but the ultimate result is that there are typically less birds to kill, and the ones remaining are harder to kill. Depending on who else may be hunting the land you're interested in, selecting an earlier season puts you before certain folks, but also decreases the chances you'll get drawn.

Scouting - Whatever you do, choose a season that allows you to monitor and scout changes in activity directly before the season you'll be hunting. If you're gone for fishing opener, trout fishing, etc., select a turkey season that gives you time afterwards to scout leading up to your season.

Calendar - Seasons E or F through H are typically high lottery success seasons. This may vary, esp. in permit areas where few tags are given, but the general rule is that it's easier to get a tag for a progressively later season. The wild cards involve Mother's Day, fishing openers, weekday only seasons (B), and the 7-day G & H seasons.

Weather - For those folks hunting in the northern ranges, snow can be a real possibility. If this will bother you or detract from your hunt, steer clear of the earliest seasons. Folks hunting later seasons get the advantage of being able to hunt with full-foliage. I like more leaves than fewer personally, but it can affect how well you hear birds on distant ends of the property.

Turkey Activity - Peak gobbling usually occurs just before or during our MN "A" season. Then we experience a lull in gobbling activity, followed by a secondary peak sometime between seasons "D" and "F" on average historically. Is it easier to kill gobblers when they gobble more? For many people, yes. Toms are talkative and actively searching, as well as more willing to check out new leads. Is it harder to kill gobblers during gobbling lulls? Not necessarily. When birds are henned up, it just requires different approaches, timing, and strategies. For most folks just getting into the sport, it will likely be tougher as they can be tight-lipped.

Getting Permission - From experience, you will typically have an easier time securing permission on private land after the farmer/landowner and his friends and relatives have had a chance to hunt. This may or may not result in poorer hunting.

Bow/Gun? Because of our 2 week archery season and OTC licensing for that season, you have the opportunity to get a longer period to chase these birds. You can also chase them with a bow during the regular A-F seasons, but only have 5 days to do so. Keep in mind, landowners are also more likely to grant you access for turkey hunting with a bow (they'll think you're nuts for even trying it, and you are grin.gif).

Public/Private If hunting solely on public land, I think the odds of you running into pressured birds, and having fewer of them, dramatically increases the further into the turkey season you go. However, there are exceptions to this rule in out-of-the-way public pockets of land that aren't well-marked and few people know exist. It's up to you to know what type of pressure your hunting land may/may-not recieve, and structure your permission-seeking accordingly if needed.

There's most of them, though I'm sure I forgot a few. I know lots of folks that do it lots of different ways. Everything from parties that apply as such, meaning that they only hunt when everyone gets a tag - to guys that apply the last season or two every year to ensure they'll always have a tag. I also know folks that have such a good time "A" season, that they're willing to only get drawn once of every 3 years. They view it as more of an undisturbed "premium" hunt, and more power to them. I guess it all depends where you're coming from.


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This will be my 4th season hunting and in the beginning I just looked at the lottery results from previous years and saw where there were gaps in applications and applied there so that I could get a tag. I chose a place close to my house without scouting. It worked and I got drawn, but didn't see a single bird.

Now I use most of Joel's suggestions. He's really been very helpful to me and others with how to understand turkey hunting in general, but also how to use the information that the MN DNR makes available.

Last year I did just about everything he suggests except get private land. I would like to get more land to hunt on this year. Last year I tagged my first tom, and on public land no less and helped a buddy call in several birds during the archery season on the same chunk. No kills with the bow, but I know that if we don't get drawn this year I will still have that option.

The best time to be scouting is now through the winter. I see several flocks of birds in the fields every afternoon coming home from work and I live in the metro.

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