ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — The Department of Natural Resources announced details of the 2021 spring turkey hunting season in Minnesota, and hunters will once again be able to buy licenses over the counter for any season in most of the state without going through a lottery system.

This year’s spring season will run from April 14 through May 31 and is broken up into six hunt periods. Firearms hunters 18 and older must choose one of the hunt periods when purchasing their license. They can hunt again during season F from May 19-31 if they did not fill their tag from an earlier season.

A turkey license will provide the opportunity to hunt all permit areas in the state, with the exception of three major wildlife management areas. Firearms hunters ages 18 and older who are interested in a permit to hunt in Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas during A through C seasons are required to apply for a lottery. The deadline to apply for those areas is Feb. 12. Successful applicants may hunt statewide, with the exception of the other two lottery areas, in addition to their selected wildlife management area.

Hunters can start purchasing licenses over the counter starting March 1.

“We had really good participation last spring. License sales increased 36%, up 6,000 over 2019,” said Leslie McInenly, wildlife populations program manager with the DNR. “This year we are carrying forward the changes we made last year.”

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Youth license sales rose 59% in 2020 from 2019. Archery and adult firearms license sales also increased 24% and 20%, respectively.

Archery hunters can hunt statewide for the entire season from April 14-May 31, but hunters cannot purchase both an archery and a firearms license for turkeys. Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger may also hunt statewide for the entire season with firearms or archery equipment.

Hunters harvested 13,996 birds in 2020, the highest harvest recorded since modern wild turkey hunting began in 1978. That number is similar to the 2010 harvest of 13,467 birds. The average harvest over the past 10 years has been 11,400.

“We’re happy to see that people took advantage of the more flexible license structure last year and are looking forward to this spring,” McInenly said. “Wild turkey restoration is a great conservation success story and the expansion of their populations in Minnesota has allowed us to continue to allow flexibility in hunting regulations.”

Lottery application process

Turkey lottery applications for the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas cost $5 and can be purchased online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, by phone at 888-665-4236, or in person from a license agent.

Successful applicants will receive a notice in the mail and can purchase their hunting license starting March 1.

More information about turkey hunting in Minnesota can be found on the DNR website.

2021 Spring turkey hunt periods

Hunt A: April 14-20

Hunt B: April 21-27

Hunt C: April 28-May 4

Hunt D: May 5-11

Hunt E: May 12-18

Hunt F: May 19-31