Walk-in accesses, WMAs are great hunting resources

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, September 1, 2018

As we begin our journey into the new season, there are a multitude of opportunities that lie ahead for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors and our natural resources. The early Canada goose season begins  and will run through the Sep. 16. The mourning dove, crow and snipe seasons also began today.

Share duck hunting experience on Youth Waterfowl Day

Youth, ages 15 and younger, can go waterfowl hunting Saturday, Sep. 8, on Youth Waterfowl Day, when accompanied by an adult who is not hunting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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“This hunt is a fantastic way for parents and guardians to introduce youth to waterfowl hunting in Minnesota, where we have these outdoor opportunities available all across the state,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator.

During Youth Waterfowl Day, hunters ages 15 and younger may take regular season bag limits of ducks, and five Canada geese statewide, when accompanied by an adult 18 or older who is not hunting. The accompanying adult does not need a license.

More lands to hunt are available through Walk-In Access program

This program began and hunters can access nearly 30,000 acres of private land across 47 counties in western and south-central Minnesota through the Walk-In Access program.

“Finding land for hunting can be challenging at times,” said Scott Roemhildt, regional director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The Walk-In Access program allows hunters to access high-quality private land and makes it easier for landowners to allow that access.”

The Walk-In Access program pays landowners to allow hunter access. Hunters with a $3 Walk-In Access validation may hunt a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset during open hunting seasons from Sep. 1 to May 31. No additional landowner contact is necessary. More than 250 sites are available through the program. Bright yellow-green signs have been placed on Walk-In Access boundaries.

Hunting seasons opened  for mourning doves, crows, snipe, sora and Virginia rail. Hunting seasons open Saturday, Sep. 15, for several small game species including squirrels and rabbits. The Minnesota pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 13.

Maps of all Walk-In Access sites are available electronically at mndnr.gov/walkin. Printed atlases can be found across the 47-county area at DNR license agents, DNR wildlife offices and county soil and water conservation district offices. Atlases are also available by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.

“Walk-In Access works because hunters respect the land, and that respect encourages landowners to enroll their land,” Roemhildt said. “We have grown the program because of the respectful relationship our hunters and landowners have enjoyed.”

Parcels enrolled in the Walk-In Access program must be at least 40 acres in size with high quality cover. Most land is also enrolled in private land conservation programs.

The Walk-In Access program began in 2011 and is currently funded with a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other funding sources come through a surcharge on nonresident hunting licenses, a one-time appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature in 2012 and donations from hunters. The availability of funding sources will determine the future of this program.

In Freeborn County we are lucky enough to have 14 WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas) available for public use. We are fortunate to have these because in the western part of the state, some counties are lucky to have any. It is important that we treat all public and private lands with respect if we want to continue to have access to this land. We must not damage or abuse any of the habitat and be sure to pick up any litter or debris. Leaving the land as good or better than you found it can go a long way to ensure future generations will have these lands available to them.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and maybe even take a little time to hang out by a lake and do a little fishing. Fall is a great time to visit a nearby lake for a picnic or take a day to just enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors. 

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.