Apply Now For Minnesota Fall Turkey and Prairie Chicken Hunts

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Hunters who wish to apply for one of 182 permits for the 2006 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for one of 4,290 permits for the fall turkey hunt must do so by July 28. Applications are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

PRAIRIE CHICKEN SEASON

The five-day prairie chicken season, which begins on Oct. 21, is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.

The hunt will be held in eleven prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren 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 and 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.

Minnesota's prairie chicken population increased substantially between 1997 and 2004 and now stands at more than 1,760 adult males. The DNR expects more than four times that number of birds in the fall population. 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, according to the DNR.

FALL TURKEY SEASON

Applications for this year's fall turkey hunt are also being accepted at Electronic License System (ELS) vendors across Minnesota. Fall turkey hunters may apply for one of 4,290 permits to hunt in one of 32 permit areas from Oct. 18-22 or Oct. 25-29. 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.

Area 463 was inadvertently put on the 2006 fall turkey hunt application procedures brochure map mailed to ELS license agents. There will be no permits in area 463 in 2006.

The deadline for applications for both the prairie chicken and fall turkey hunts is July 28. 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 permit at an ELS vendor.