August 13, 2022

Hunting dates to remember

  • Friday, Aug. 12: Bear baiting start date
  • Friday, Aug. 19: Prairie chicken hunt lottery deadline; Camp Ripley archery hunt application deadline
  • Thursday, Sept. 1: Hunting seasons open for bear, snipe and rail, mourning dove and crow
  • Saturday, Sept. 3: Early Canada goose season opens
  • Thursday, Sept. 8: Antlerless deer and special hunt lottery deadline
  • Saturday, Sept. 10: Youth Waterfowl Day; sandhill crane season opens in northwest zone
  • Saturday, Sept. 17: Archery deer season opens; small game season opens including for ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, spruce grouse, Hungarian partridge, rabbits and squirrels
  • Saturday, Sept. 24: Waterfowl season opens; hunting seasons open for woodcock and prairie chicken
  • Saturday, Sept. 24-Sunday, Sept. 25: Take a Kid Hunting Weekend
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: Fall turkey season opens
  • Saturday, Oct. 15: Pheasant season opens

Ruffed grouse counts up, sharp-tailed grouse down

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up 18 percent statewide this year compared to last year, according to a survey conducted by the DNR. Ruffed grouse populations tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle and counts this year are typical of what’s expected during the rising phase of the cycle.

Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting. Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions.

Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer. For the past 67 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 14 organizations surveyed 126 routes across the state.

To count sharp-tailed grouse, observers look for males displaying on traditional mating areas, which are called leks or dancing grounds. The average number of sharp-tailed grouse was similar this year compared to 2015, but may be at a decline when considering changes in the number of leks counted or changes at the same leks counted in both years.

Duck numbers up, Canada goose numbers down since last year

Population counts are up for several species of ducks that breed in Minnesota, while the population estimate for Canada geese is down, according to results of the annual DNR spring waterfowl surveys.

The surveys are used to estimate the number of breeding ducks or breeding geese that nest in the state rather than simply migrate through. In addition to the counts by the DNR, the continental waterfowl population estimates are released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the summer and provide an indicator of what hunters can expect this fall.

Apply by Aug. 19 for Camp Ripley archery hunts

Hunters can apply now for the regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls. The application deadline is Friday, Aug. 19. Read more here about how to apply. Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons: Oct. 20-21 (Thur.-Fri., code 668) or Oct. 29-30 (Sat.-Sun., code 669). A total of 4,000 permits, with 2,000 per two-day hunt, will be available. The bag limit for this year’s hunt is one, and hunters must purchase a regular archery license that is valid for either-sex. Additional rules and instructions for this year’s hunt are posted.

Applications open for prairie chicken hunt lottery

Hunters can apply now to be included in a lottery for one of 126 permits available for the 2016Minnesota prairie chicken season. Applications are available wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold and the application deadline is Friday, Aug. 19.

Adding to ranks of hunters is topic for DNR summit

Gone are the days when the hunting masses wore red flannel for visibility, when youth wandered the countryside with .22 rifles hunting squirrels with little or no supervision and kids sold nightcrawlers along the side of the road like lemonade.

Not only have clothes and methods for hunting and fishing changed, but participation has declined, an issue that led the DNR to plan a two-day conference from Friday, Aug. 26, toSaturday, Aug. 27, that will focus on recruiting and retaining hunters and anglers. Registration is open for the conference, which will take place at Earle Brown Heritage Center, 6155 Earle Brown Drive in Brooklyn Center.

The conference will allow for information sharing on best practices to design and deliver recruitment and retention programs. Presentations from national experts, reflections from local organizations and breakout sessions to address common challenges are also scheduled. Additionally, the DNR will provide a free toolkit with templates for new programs, strategies to enhance existing programs, evaluation tools, and checklists to help program planning and management.

Volunteers and staff of organizations or agencies and members of the public involved or interested in preserving Minnesota’s outdoor heritage are encouraged to attend. There are no fees for registration or meals.

Women can learn to hunt deer in sessions

Women can take part in a Learn to Hunt Firearm Deer series, with session dates on Saturdays,Aug. 27, Sept. 24, and Oct. 8. There is also a one-on-one mentored hunt the weekend of Oct. 14 at Itasca State Park.

Sessions will include deer biology, habits, habitat, regulations, equipment, scouting, how to find hunting land, rifle practice and more. Lodging for the weekend hunt is included at Itasca State Park, and the registration fee is $100 plus minimal range fees for practice shooting. Women will need access to a legal firearm in good working condition, a deer license and must possess firearm safety certification prior to the hunt. For more information please email. The class is limited to 10 women.

Women can register for fall workshop

Women can register for a fall workshop that happens Friday, Sept. 16, to Sunday, Sept. 18, at Eagle Bluff Learning Center in Lanesboro with classes that include a cave tour, fly-fishing, rifle and shotgun classes, 3-D archery, shiitake mushroom growing, biking and more. The workshop will also include an evening presentation from the DNR’s Carrol Henderson on loons and lead. Theregistration guide from the DNR has more information and a schedule.

Wildlife Drive opening at Roseau River WMA

The 27-mile Wildlife Drive through the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located 20 miles northwest of Roseau, will be open to vehicle travel from Saturday, July 16, throughSunday, July 24. The drive traverses wetland, woodland, brushland and farmland habitats, providing visitors ample opportunity to view wildlife.

Roseau River WMA is one of the viewing stops along the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, which consists of 45 sites spanning a 223-mile corridor from pine to prairie in the northwestern part of the state. These sites offer some of the most spectacular birding in the state, along with scenic beauty and friendly communities.

The Wildlife Drive will not be open after July 24 for the weekends through mid-August as has been past practice due to construction projects on the WMA this summer. Learn more on the DNR website.

Twins offer discounts and free hat through partnership with DNR

Anyone with a 2016 Minnesota hunting or fishing license can receive a free camouflage and blaze orange Twins logo baseball cap and discounted tickets by being among the first 500 to buy through a special Minnesota Twins ticket offer online.

The offer is good for these Minnesota Twins home games:

  • Sunday, Aug. 14, vs. Kansas City Royals
  • Saturday, Sept. 3, vs. Chicago White Sox and
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, vs. Seattle Mariners.

Tickets prices vary by game and seat locations are either in the Field Box or Home Run Porch. All ticket holders under this partnership will pick up their cap at the game. Tickets will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The offer is available only through the DNR Twins Web page.

Buy fishing and hunting licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

DNR partners with St. Paul Saints on special ticket offer, free hat

Anyone with a 2016 Minnesota hunting or fishing license can receive a free camouflage and blaze orange Twins logo baseball cap and discounted tickets by being among the first 500 to buy through a special Minnesota Twins ticket offer online.

The offer is good for these Minnesota Twins home games:

  • Sunday, Aug. 14, vs. Kansas City Royals
  • Saturday, Sept. 3, vs. Chicago White Sox
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, vs. Seattle Mariners.

Ticket prices vary by game and seat locations are either in the Field Box or Home Run Porch. All ticket holders under this partnership will pick up their cap at the game. Tickets will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The offer is available only through the DNR Twins webpage.

Buy fishing and hunting licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

Did you know? Prairie chickens are a marker of conservation

The way to increase prairie chicken populations is to conserve more grasslands and prairies.

Minnesota has lost 98 percent of its original native prairie largely through conversion to agricultural uses. In Minnesota, acres in conservation programs peaked in 2007 at 1.99 million acres with the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) making up 1.75 million of those acres. But despite growth in several conservation programs, the state dropped to having 1.53 million acres in 2014, largely due to high losses in CRP land.

The loss of CRP land magnifies the importance of permanently protecting land for habitat, including through acquisition of land for hunting, wildlife watching and other recreational uses, as well as permanent protection on private land.

The Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan aims to protect Minnesota’s remaining native prairie, and restore and manage grasslands. These actions should benefit prairie chickens as a result, and one measure of the success of the plan overall is stable or increasing populations of prairie chickens.

To develop the prairie plan, the DNR partnered with groups including the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever and others. For more information on the prairie chicken, search “prairie chicken” at the DNR’s rare species guide.

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