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Good news for non-landowner turkey applicants

Mark Christianson

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Well, at least I think this is good news.
I sent an email to the DNR last week, suggesting that they re-think the landowner permit process.
As it stands, there is a gaping hole for landowners to get preference.
A person can own property that is nothing more than open fields, yet he/she receives preference for a permit. My thoughts are that if you receive landowner preference for a turkey permit, you better darn well have some turkey habitat to benefit in the lottery process. Here is a reply from Ed Boggess in the DNR in regards to my suggestion to rethink the generalization of landowner permits.

Mr. Christianson:
A bill addressing the issue you raise recently passed the legislature
and is on the Governor's desk to be signed into law. Under the revised
statutes, the requirement that the qualifying land be agricultural or
grazing land will be removed and any landowner receiving a license in
the separate drawing will be restricted to hunting only on the land they
own or lease in the zone where the qualifying land is located. Someone
who does not own or lease property with turkeys on it will therefore
have no incentive to apply in the special landowner drawing.

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lol ! I like it. and i don't see anything wrong w/ it. Landowner wise either, how can you bit%&. thanks for the tip.

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I'm not so sure about this one.....

While I do agree that people abuse the system by putting up "junk" land to hunt on, and reap the benefits of getting a tag most years......I'm not so sure this is the solution.

IMO, this system will result in only the largest landowners in the state applying for landowner permits, resulting in an overall LOSS of private lands to hunt (as published in the DNR's Spring Turkey Hunting Workbook). I own 40 acres in SE MN, but would never dream of applying for a landowner permit for a few reasons.

If I'm going to allow hunting on my land, I'm not going to be further restricted in doing so. I'll apply for a later season or get a surplus tag and still hunt nearly every year. I also wish not to have my name, address, land, and phone number published in a document for hunters. If I didn't hunt my land, I'd have no problem.....but demand far exceeds supply....especially when you're talking about some hunters that think the land is public year-round, for deer, squirrel, duck, grouse, and pheasants.

I feel that these small to mid-range acreage landowners will stop applying for landowner permits, and reduce the amount of land available to public hunting. These lands simply cannot sustain the amount of pressure that is out there, and remain quality hunting opportunities.

I believe this is only a very small band-aid to a much greater problem. A more extensive public hunting land access program is needed in this state. Hunters need to have quality public lands to hunt, enough of them to sustain pressure, and landowners need to be compensated for the various costs, time, and inconveniences that such access comes with. A bill was introduced this year to address some of these problems but I believe it was struck down.

It's my thought that you get out of it what you put into it. Just like anything, it takes time, patience, and a substantial amount of energy to prepare, scout, and secure land for the season. While this method of looking at platbooks and maps may seem old-fashioned and time consuming.....it does work. Knocking on doors may not be convenient, but it is effective. Furthermore, it keeps those great turkey spots great. Were they published haunts, I'm not so sure they would be as good.

Any other thoughts?


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My experiences for securing land to hunt, has been relatively easy.
In fact, the couple times I used the landowner info, I have been struck down. In one case the guy said his other family members were hunting.
I don't even bother looking at the book for landowner applicants any more.

In my experiences, I don't think what you are stating is a very big issue. (Access to quality habitat being more limited if more landowners are not applying for "landowner permit".

The farmers I have gotten permission from, are anxious to get the birds out in some cases. We had a landowner tell us to take 2 each. Doh!

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You failed to mention if you receive a landowner permit each year? If you do, could this be the reason you do not agree?
In 442, it takes three years to draw a early season tag. Landowners receive them every year. Many landowners in 442 DO NOT allow public hunting even though the regulations state they must. Claiming they already have people. I say fine- let those individuals hunt their OWN land.
As a member of the NWTF, this bill has been heavily lobbied for. The NWTF sees only positive things happening- landowners will create habitat to hunt- in turn creating a larger population or it will equilize the distribution of permits and introduce the fine sport to many more people!

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You have made a poor assumption. I have never applied for or received a landowner permit, even though according to you, and apparently the NWTF, I should have good reason to do so. I am sorry if I have offended you with my opinions, and I wish not to create any ill-will. Please read this as one man's opinion on the situation, nothing more or less.

As stated in my previous post, I do not agree with landowners abusing their landowner permit priveleges. I have also been turned away by landowners, but because I don't know whether they have people hunting for sure or not, I do not draw conclusions or accuse them of cheating the system.

In the zones I have hunted, it takes at least 3 years to draw a 1st season permit as well. However, I've been drawn 3 of the past 5 years by applying for later seasons. One of the years I wasn't drawn, I successfully obtained a surplus permit. This year, I tagged along on several hunts, and still had a blast. Also, at least for the zone I hunted this year, in 2003 landowner/tennant permits never reached the 20% level for any season but the first one! The opportunity to hunt exists for both landowners and those who don't own land.

I think we agree on the ends, just not necessarily the means to the same goals. I'm not sure the current system is working well, and I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to changing it....I just had a problem with the proposed changes. My suggestion would be to try and get organizations such as the NWTF to put more local and state pressure on a walk-in type hunting program. I think such a program would more fairly reward hunters, willing landowners....and in turn reward more taxpayers in this state.

Just like bigbass, I haven't had too much problem securing land to hunt provided I started early and was flexible (most permit areas are quite large). Access may be a problem in the areas closer to the cities, but I have never had a problem in at least 3 different permit areas.

I understand that some landowners may abuse these tags, just as some slob hunters trespass. However, I don't favor weakening an already flimsy incentive structure for landowners on account of sour grapes.

I think the end result will be less total acreage for public hunting. That is, if anybody pays attention to the new law (seems to be a tough one to enforce). I don't think private landowners will be influenced to do any more habitat work than they already do. The change will result in more successful applicants that are non-landowners, but less available land. The difference in acreage may not be that big an issue as bigbass said, but I'm not the one having problems getting on land either.


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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I guess I've never had trouble getting onto land that was in the landowner permit drawing in the area I am currently hunting in.. I hunted two such properties this spring. Two others that I had permission to hunt this spring were in the program last spring but not this year. But got permission this year because of the relationship I built with them last spring. I also hunt public land.

I know for a fact that several guys apply and recieve landowner permits for land that does not hold turkeys. But I was given permission to go ahead and try. It's funny because I drove past one of these properties while scouting and actually saw a group of birds passing through. But there was nothing there to hold them and it would had been a **** shoot to hunt there.

Some zones are much tougher to get onto. For instance 418 is one that I have hunted in the past. It's a very popular zone with no surplus permits available the past 2 years. It's a 3 year wait to draw a season beginning in April. I received permission to hunt 3 different landowner properties. But was turned down by more than 15 other permit winners. Many had friends that they let on which technically meets the requirements I guess. Also knocking on doors there was less effective as it seemed everyone knew someone who was hunting and didn't want someone else potentially shooting their birds or crowding them.

I guess what I'm thinking is that if I was a land owner with less than 400 acres I would not apply for the program. These bird do move around and if you're confined to a 40 - 100 acres chunk they may not be on your land during the 5 days you have to hunt. How many of us would be happy only have one property to hunt? Personally this spring I had 6 differet properties totally about 1300 acres to hunt. Several days I hunted at least two of these and over the course of the season I hunted on 4 of them.

I know I'm not happy with just one place to hunt.


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The proposed changes sound fine to me, but I'm not opposed to the landowners having more preference. They pay the taxes, which are getting ridiculous, plus their crops feed the birds all year, why shouldn't they have some extra perks? I own land that doesn't currently happen to be in a turkey zone, but either way I guarantee I'm doing everything I can afford to do to improve the land for deer & turkey, as well as waterfowl, I'm fortunate enough to live on a small river. There are no turkeys on my property yet, but I'm sure there will be soon, as I know I've heard them less than a mile away. Those pine trees that wildlife love cost money & are a lot of work to keep mowed & the dead ones replaced until they get big. I've never applied for a landowner permit & doubt that I would if I didn't have turkeys on my land or very close by, because I wouldn't want to have to open up my land to public hunting. I've seen all the garbage that gets thrown on public land & on the lake ice fishing, it's ridiculous. I'd much rather have someone come & ask me about hunting on their own, that knows I don't have to let them hunt, & I think that's the way most landowners feel. I don't like walking up to strange places & knocking on doors to hunt, but I have to say when I have done it, most experiences have been favorable. I got to know too different landowners this year who I'd never met & both were very helpful & more than willing to let us hunt turkeys. Both landowners have relatives who bowhunt deer there, but don't hunt turkeys, at least yet.

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Correction: two landowners, not "too" landowners. Guess I spell like a redneck anyway.

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The landowner tag abuse is very large in 442. I could provide more than 20 names whom I know are applying with acres that are NOT at all turkey habitat. Some even have land within the city limits! I have contacted the DNR on three seperate occasins- nothing ever materialized- the DNR does not want to deal with it. I have had a CO admit this to me, he claims it is not enforcable!
I have access to thousands of acres in another zone and have hunted there for the past several seasons. Access personally, is not my issue!
The resources of Mn SHOULD be equally available for everyone. Period! Yes- I could hunt a later season with leftover permits or zones and time periods with less applicants. BUT why should I have to when others(these landowners) do not. This is not equality.

Providing more habitat... always a great idea! A walk-in program... Excellent for habitat and access... Not economically feasible in MN's agriculture region. The states that have had success with this, have done so with marginal farmland/grazing land that costs few $. Mn has tons of public land- Where is it located and why? Iowa has very little public land, again $$$$! You do not see huge expanses of habitat!
The current Deer landowner permit allows the landowner/family member to harvest the deer only on the land owned by the landowner.

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I’m sorry to hear of the abuse of the system in that permit area. It’s too bad when a loophole allows folks to exploit a certain part of the hunting laws. However, I think as a whole, the main ideas and general framework of this system have worked out pretty well for the turkey hunters in Minnesota. It could use some tweaking, but let’s look at the numbers for 442.

This year, 135 landowners were successful landowner/tenant applicants, and secured 10.5% of the total pool of 1,280 tags available in zone 442 from seasons A-G. These landowners filled their 20% quota for only seasons A & C, leaving many more tags in all other seasons.

If these guys are getting preferential treatment, it’s only in the earlier seasons, where they get ~20% of the tags allotted for the whole time period. You speak of equality, well 10.5% vs. 89.5% doesn’t seem equal to me. Minnesota’s public resources should be available to everyone, I agree, but private land and access to it is not a public resource. It’s a privilege that you and I both should be very grateful for. The wild turkey, now that’s a harder one to finger…..public or private, both? Without the DNR and NWTF, the wild turkeys range and numbers would be a drop in the bucket compared to what they are today. However, without private landowners and habitat, those released turkeys would not share the same success they do today.

It’s my thought that 10.5% of all the tags in the zone is a small price to pay, considering over 90% of southern Minnesota (the stronghold of MN’s turkey population) is in private holding. These lands and the owners that plant turkey food and provide habitat, offer us the chance to enjoy the sport we love. These folks, for the most part, try to be good stewards of the land, pay taxes on the land, and generally let us hunt there. From a farmer’s perspective like my dad’s, it’s they who are getting the short end of the stick. They pay taxes, forfeit crops to the birds, maintain habitat, and hunters come out there to hunt them, generally for free. I think we’ve all got it pretty good, especially compared to the proposed changes.

If a walk-in or similar program is not feasible, how else do you propose gaining better access to such lands? Lease land? Throw up our hands and quit? I’m curious as to your solution.

As for the current deer landowner permit system, I don’t think I need to tell you how different the two species are, regarding population levels (over a million vs. ~60,000), range (statewide vs. ½ the state), and hunting technique….among other differences.

Again, these are only my opinions; feel free to disagree wholeheartedly. You can also email me by clicking on my username on the main part of the turkey forum. Good luck to all of us in finding the answers, whichever ones may be correct.


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