DNR Proposes Disabled Veterans Turkey Hunt

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking comments on a proposed special turkey hunt for disabled veterans at Camp Ripley next spring. The hunt, which would be the first turkey hunt authorized at Camp Ripley, would be held May 3-4. It is designed after the successful disabled deer hunts held annually at the military installation.

The Minnesota Legislature has given the DNR authority to conduct special hunts that provide hunting opportunities to those with disabilities, according to Beau Liddell, DNR area wildlife manager at Little Falls.

"The special hunt would be open to 20 disabled veteran hunters and their partners," Liddell said. "The special deer hunts have been a success, so we expect a turkey hunt could generate similar interest. There is the option of expanding the hunt in future years."

The DNR and the Department of Military Affairs would provide the necessary technical assistance and logistical support.

The National Wild Turkey Federation-Wheelin Sportsmen and the St. Cloud Veterans Administration Hospital would administer the hunt.

Hunters who have a permanent disability and are armed forces veterans would be eligible to apply for the special hunt. All disabled hunters would be accompanied by an able-bodied partner who would not be allowed to hunt.

Permits and licenses issued for this special hunt would allow disabled hunters to take one bearded turkey, only during the special hunt and only at Camp Ripley. Hunters would be allowed to use only legal shotguns, muzzleloading shotguns and archery equipment for taking turkeys, as defined in the Minnesota Hunting Regulations Handbook.

Interested hunters would not apply through the regular spring turkey hunt lottery. Instead, they would apply directly to one of the sponsoring organizations that would select participants. Permits and licenses issued for this hunt would be separate from those issued during the regular spring lottery.

"The actual number of wild turkeys harvested during the proposed turkey hunt is expected to be small," said Liddell. "The disabled hunt would not affect permit levels for the regular spring hunt that occurs outside Camp Ripley.

"Turkey populations on the military installation have increased dramatically and are very healthy at this time," Liddell continued. "We believe this is an excellent opportunity to offer disabled vets a unique and exciting hunt."

Comments on the proposed hunt should be submitted by July 30 to Beau Liddell, DNR area wildlife manager, 16543 Haven Road, Little Falls, MN 56345; phone (320) 616-2468; or e-mail beau.liddell@dnr.state.mn.us.