Brad Fitzgerald from Chaska, Minnesota, has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer since 2010 and has been hunting turkeys for 14 years.
In Minnesota, hunters have multiple turkey seasons from the middle of April until the end of May. However, a hunter only can take one bird per season. We have week-long seasons for the first four weeks of turkey season. The last season includes three weekends and two full weeks that a person can hunt turkeys. The last turkey season starts in mid-May and runs through May 31, which gives a hunter 16 days then to hunt turkeys.
The first turkey season starts April 18 in Minnesota. The first two seasons last an entire week each and are hunted by lottery only with firearms. Minnesota has multiple zones, and you must pick the zone you want to hunt to participate in the lottery. However, for the third turkey season you can buy permits over the counter for any zone. An archery hunter can hunt in any zone throughout turkey season, and that’s why I bowhunt turkeys.
Minnesota is somewhat farther north than many states, and during a normal turkey season, the turkeys are still breeding until the end of the May. Minnesota homes Eastern wild turkeys. A certain portion of Minnesota, primarily in the Whitewater State Park area of southeastern Minnesota, has always had a flock of wild turkeys, and from this flock much of the state was restocked. These Minnesota gobblers were used to restock some other states, too, as surplus birds became available. Minnesota homes a lot of agriculture, some bluff country and a number of hardwood forests. So, the turkeys have very good habitat here in the far north.
In 2018, the first weekend of turkey season in mid-April had 14 inches of snow. I’ve harvested turkeys with snow on the ground even up until May 10 in some years. The good thing about turkeys is that their breeding season is triggered by sunlight. As soon as there’s a certain amount of sunlight in a given day, the male turkeys are ready to breed. But the hens dictate when they’re ready to be receptive to a gobbler. A hen generally doesn’t want to breed when she’ll have to lay her eggs in 32-degree weather. Hen turkeys are smart enough to not to lay eggs in the freezing cold. So, that’s why Minnesota’s turkey season runs later than most other states.