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Deadline for spring youth turkey hunt applications is Feb. 22

DETROIT LAKES - First-time hunters have the chance to bag a wild turkey with the help of volunteer guides through a program sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Last year, 124 hunters were able to participate in 15 special youth turkey hunts throughout the state, including 10 kids in the Detroit Lakes area. There will be 32 special youth turkey hunts this spring for up to 460 new hunters.

"This is an opportunity for kids to learn by doing," said Jay Johnson, coordinator of the DNR hunter recruitment and retention program, in a news release. "And it's a great chance for mentors to get out in the field with youths and help pass on Minnesota's hunting tradition."

The special hunts are made possible because of an increasing population of wild turkeys, an expanded hunting range, and more volunteer guides through the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Applications are only available at the DNR Web site. The deadline for applications is Feb. 22. Hunters will be chosen through a random lottery on Feb. 27 and the winners will be notified by mail and email. The winner notice will include information on how and when hunters can purchase their license. A list of winners will also be posted on the DNR Web site.

The youth hunt is for first-time turkey hunters, ages 12 to 17 (before April 19), who have a valid firearms safety certificate. Hunters must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and will then be assigned a NWTF guide. The hunters and guardians will be required to attend an Advanced Hunter Education Turkey Clinic/Youth Hunt Orientation Session. Information on the session will be provided in the winner's notice.

Hunters and guardians must have all their own equipment and appropriate clothing. They can make arrangements with their volunteer guides for any pre-season activities, such as scouting.

Most of the special hunts will be on April 19 and 20, the first days of the regular season, and on private land, thanks to generous landowners. The NWTF volunteer guides will have access to these areas and must accompany hunters and guardians at all times. Maps and hunt listings are available at the DNR Web site.

Hunters will be ineligible if they have ever been selected by lottery for a Minnesota wild turkey license, have purchased a surplus MN wild turkey license, or purchased a MN archery turkey license. The DNR said this applies to both spring and fall seasons and includes the 2008 lottery.

If hunters have entered the 2008 spring turkey hunt lottery, they are urged to check those results before applying. Preference in the general turkey lottery system is not affected by being selected for the youth turkey hunt.

For more information, check out the DNR Web site at

Johnson said this special hunt couldn't be done without the help of staff and volunteers from the NWTF.

"This is an example of sportsmen and sportswomen taking the lead in developing the next generation of safe, ethical and responsible hunter-conservations."