Applications for Sept. mentored waterfowl hunt due Aug. 13

July 30, 2012

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Youth who want to experience waterfowl hunting for the first time can apply by Monday, Aug. 13, to be one 80 participants in this year’s mentored youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday, Sept. 8, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Hunts, which are open to youth ages 12-15 who have earned a firearms safety certificate, will be conducted at Hamden Slough near Detroit Lakes and the Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris as well on private lands in the Prior Lake, Windom, Buffalo and Little Falls areas.

A parent or guardian must accompany the youth at all times during all orientation, education and field sessions that occur during the mandatory hunt orientation meeting on Friday, Sept. 7, and the Saturday hunt.

Youth and guardians are paired with experienced waterfowl mentors, who do more than take a youth and a guardian into the field for a Saturday morning hunt.

Before venturing out, mentors will spend time Friday discussing the importance and necessity of habitat as well as explain and demonstrate waterfowl hunting safety, techniques and outdoor skills.

“Mentored hunts provide the basic know-how from an experienced waterfowl hunter so youth and their parent or guardian can venture out on their own in the future,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator.

Partners, who provide mentors and areas to hunt, are Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Delta Waterfowl, Midwest Extreme Outdoors, Russell Outdoors and the Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club.

If the number of applications exceeds the number of available spaces, participants will be selected via lottery.

Applying for hunts farther from the Twin Cities increases the likelihood of being selected.

The mentored youth waterfowl hunt occurs on Youth Waterfowl Day, a specially designated day during which any adult can share their waterfowl hunting experiences by taking a youth 15 and younger waterfowl hunting. Only the youth may hunt.

Visit www.mndnr.gov/discover for an application or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 for more information.

No application necessary for 2012 fall turkey hunt

Starting this year, Minnesota turkey hunters may purchase a license over-the-counter to hunt the fall season wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

No lottery application will be necessary. Hunters still must declare a turkey permit area when purchasing a license, and they are restricted to hunting that area.

The application and lottery are being discontinued because the number of fall turkey licenses available has exceeded the number of applicants for the past several years.

“Everyone who entered the lottery received a license,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Allowing over-the-counter purchase streamlines the process for hunters.”

Last year, hunters purchased 5,382 fall turkey permits and registered 953 birds. This year’s 30-day season begins Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 28.

Licenses may be purchased at any time before or during the season at DNR license agents, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236.

Complete details of the fall turkey hunt are available online at www.mndnr.gov//hunting/turkey.

Apply now for prairie chicken hunt

Hunters who wish to apply for one of 186 permits for the 2012 Minnesota prairie chicken season must do so by Friday, Aug. 17, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Application materials and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/prairiechicken.

Winners will be notified by mail by mid-September after applying at any DNR license agent, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236.

The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Saturday, Oct. 20, 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 conducted in 11 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.

Resident hunters younger than 12 may apply for a prairie chicken license.

The odds of being drawn are about one-in-three depending upon the area chosen, said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife population and regulation manager.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters will 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.

In 2011, an estimated 103 birds were harvested with 45 percent of hunters taking at least one bird.

DNR accepting applications for parks and trails grants

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a grant opportunity for funding park and trail projects across Minnesota.

The Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program and Regional Park Program are soliciting applications. All applications are due Sept. 28.

Eligible projects include acquisition, development, improvement and restoration of park- or trail-related facilities.

Projects must be of regional or statewide significance outside the metropolitan area, as defined in Minnesota statutes.

Counties, cities, and townships are eligible to apply for both programs.

The Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program has $7.49 million available in funding from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, approved by voters in 2008.

There is $333,333 available in funding for the Regional Park Grant Program from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Program information is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov.

For more information, contact the grants staff listed on the program Web pages.

Question of the week

Q: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the University of Minnesota Extension offer a Master Naturalist Program.

What is the program and how does a person become a master naturalist?

A: The Master Naturalist Program is a community-based natural-resource volunteer program that is open to any adult who is interested in learning more about the natural world.

This program is different than the Master Gardener program as it provides participants a broader based understanding of the state’s natural environments.

Those who sign up for the program have the opportunity to be trained in any one, or all, of Minnesota’s three major biomes – prairie, deciduous forest or coniferous forest.

However, in order to be certified as a master naturalist, volunteers must complete 40 hours of training and a supervised sponsored outreach project.

Following training, these conservationists will assist the DNR, U of M Extension and other partners with public outreach and management of the state’s diverse natural environments.

For more information, go to www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org.