Hunters seeking one of 100 permits for the 2004 Minnesota prairie chicken season or one of 4,380 permits for the fall turkey hunt must apply by July 30, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Applications may be picked up at more than 1,800 Electronic Licensing System locations beginning July 1.
PRAIRIE CHICKEN SEASON
The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Oct. 23, is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee. They may apply individually or in groups up to four hunters. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.
The hunt will be held in seven prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Crookston in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.
The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. This year, licensed prairie chicken hunters will also be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens. Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species. The general closure on taking sharp-tailed grouse by small game hunters in this area is to protect prairie chickens. Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.
Last year was the first Minnesota prairie chicken season since 1942. There were 853 applicants for the 100 available permits in 2003. The odds of being drawn the first year were about 12 percent. A preference system is in place that adds a preference point for each year a hunter correctly applies but is not drawn.
Of the 100 successful applicants in 2003, 93 purchased licenses. Licensed prairie chicken hunters harvested and registered 115 prairie chickens. Overall success rate of prairie chicken hunters in 2003 was 68 percent. The average registered take per license holder was 1.2 birds.
Minnesota's prairie chicken population now stands at more than 3,000 breeding birds in the spring and more than double that number in the fall. Prairie restoration and protection programs have helped stabilize the bird's population in recent years. The restoration of a regulated prairie chicken hunting season has helped build awareness and support for protecting and enhancing prairie and grassland habitats.
FALL TURKEY SEASON
Applications for this year's fall turkey hunt are being accepted at Electronic Licensing System vendors across Minnesota. Fall turkey hunters may apply for one of 4,380 permits to hunt in one of 24 permit areas from Oct. 13-17 or Oct. 20-24. This is a 13 percent increase in available permits compared with 2003.
The application fee is $3. The license costs $18 for residents and $73 for nonresidents. A $5 stamp validation is also required for turkey hunters 18 years of age or older.
The deadline for applications for both the prairie chicken and fall turkey hunts is July 30. Application worksheets and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must purchase their permit at an electronic licensing system vendor.