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HateHumminbird

Spring Turkey Hunting - Ask Permission Now!!!

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Southern MN is the home for most of Minnesota's turkeys, and also happens to be roughly 90% in private-holding. So if one is to hunt turkeys in this area, or even in more northern portions of the state, that person must have a strategy for securing permission to hunt private lands.

I employ a multiple part system to finding land to hunt each spring, and it's not that difficult! The best part, is that once you establish a good relationship with the landowner, and maintain that relationship accordingly, you're likely to face a lighter "workload" with each spring season you hunt.

1) Winter Scouting - This part is already complete for me by the time I find out where/when I'll be hunting. It can be monitoring an area where turkeys typically frequent at sunrise/sunset, looking for birds as they get off of, or go towards roost. Or, it can mean driving around the countryside, noting several locations where you see birds. Once you see a flock of birds, mark that location on a map, and move on. While Winter isn't Spring, and flocks will break up, a good portion of hens will stay in the surrounding few hundred acres, which means there'll be a few toms around trying to breed them as well. Also note travel corridors such as a river-bottom or wooded field edge towards other good habitat in the nearby area.

2) Plat-book/Computer Work - The plat-book used to be the only tool a hunter had for searching/locating landowners. I now favor a few services of interest in the counties that I hunt turkeys. Property information mapping applications exist for many different counties in MN, and are as easy to find as calling up the county administrator, or perusing their websites. The county I live in allows you to show property boundaries overlaid on aerial photos, complete with landowner names and acreages. This has been an invaluable tool in helping me secure turkey hunting lands

3) Targeting core areas - With the web-mapping applications, I will look back to my hard-copy maps that are all marked up, and locate "high/low" areas and other good turkey habitat near where you ground-truthed your sightings. When I say "high/low", I mean the ridge/valley areas with good roost trees, as in my neck of the woods, birds will favor oak ridges with pastures/fields below for landing-pads. These areas, with good food and water nearby are nearly a sure deal in terms of holding birds sometime during the spring season. Look for several of these areas, and create a list of surrounding landowners to contact. The idea here is to have several adjacent properties in core areas that you can hop to and from should they be full of "bad birds" or henned-up toms.

4) Securing permission - Be prepared! Know what you're going to say before you say it. Be polite and friendly, but don't overdo it. Folks know when they're being used, and acting like a long-lost friend they see predictably around turkey season works against you. Mention that you've seen birds in the area and that you'd like to hunt them with their permission, under their rules. Say that you understand this isn't a free pass to trampse across their land willy-nilly, but that you brought a calendar for them to have, noting the dates/times you might be hunting their property. Include your name, number, and other contact information; anything that might help them get a hold of you. If they say they already have someone hunting, like a relative, ask if you can stop back later, or call them to see if your time/season is available. From experience, I can say that if you've got an early season and there's a relative hunting later, you might think about steering clear of the area. Their ensuing poor hunt allows you to be an easy scapegoat, perhaps costing you permission there forever. Cold-calling should be avoided at all costs.

5) Get enough, but don't be greedy - I like to have 3-5 groups of birds to work for a 5 day season. These areas are recycled, however, in that I'll ask permission for multiple seasons to take friends/family out on. This has never been a problem, so long as I have a distinct plan, and I notify the landowners accordingly. For the average hunter, I'd say 2-3 properties might be more like it. Locate several groups, but understand that you're not the only one that sees these birds as they strut along the roadside. Crowding out other hunters, and stealing spots is bad form. It will only extend a poor reputation, which, you guessed it, could cost you a few places to hunt down the literal, and figurative road.

Good luck, and realize that the sooner you get the ball rolling, the more likely you are to find receptive landowners that have not already been asked.

Joel

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Very nice post Joel!!!

I'd add that in addition to private land there are a variety of public lands as well that'll hold birds and receive little to no hunting pressure. I'm guessing that many of you who hunt public land doubt this as it can be a zoo as well. There are public pieces that have a reputation for holding birds and thus attract many hunters. There are smaller chunks of land that many would feel are too small to hunt or do not "look" like good turkey habitat. When you find these jewels keep quiet about them as most will not be productive if they are hunted hard.

I have one public piece I hunt that I've taken a number of birds on and to this point have never run into another hunter during spring scouting or during my season. Another piece 5 miles away always has hunters on it and carries far fewer birds.

The guys that scout and find a variety of spots definitely have a better chance of getting their bird.

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Joel, great post with all the needed info. I really enjoyed reading it. I have always hunted the same woods and will again this year.

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Harvey, we'll be chasing drumsticks just south of your home turf at my uncle's again down by the Rush River Valley.

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Guppy:

Good work! I did the same on Saturday. Because these were the same folks I've been going to for years, I didn't get turned down once.

Make sure and stop by or at least call just before the season. It's a ways out until April/May, and the added reminder has been useful to landowners in the past.

Also, if you have the opportunity, go to Fleet Farm, and at the end of every register is a stack of calendars (or at least there was a few weeks ago). Write down your season(s) on the calendar, and include a note with all the proper contact info. This is a good tool for landowners I've found. That way, they keep it handy if others come to ask for permission, and they know when you'll be hunting so as to not let others on during the same time period.

Early bird gets the worm!

Joel

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That calendar idea is a really good one. I always follow up the season with some token of appreciation like venison sticks, or a small piece of artwork (I do wildlife paintings and sketches as a hobby) around the holidays, but everyone can use an extra calendar, and it serves a dual purpose in this case. Thanks for the idea Joel.

In my case, I'm lucky enough to have obtained e-mail addresses over the years. I still always ask permission face to face, but I usually e-mail a reminder a week or so in advance, just to make sure nothing has changed.

I also try to e-mail a photo or two soon after the hunt. Landowners are usually very interested in what was harvested on their land.

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We have one landowner in our back pocket, but I have taken home a gobbler 3 out of 5 years on public land. Passed on jakes the other two years. Just prefer the big woods vs the woodlots.

I will be working for a few more properties this year for my son's time slot.

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