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Minnesota hunters can now use crossbows to bag wild turkeys

A new change to turkey hunting in Minnesota
A new change to turkey hunting in Minnesota 01:53

BLAINE, Minn. — In a couple of weeks, the spring turkey hunting season will begin in Minnesota, an outdoor sport that gained momentum during COVID-19 but could, thanks to a new change, potentially attract more youth hunters.

"It was a bad year for it. It wasn't just us, it hurt us, but I think industry-wide it was down. Tremendously," Sam Oftedahl said, referring to the region's overall lack of winter weather.

Without consistent cold, sales for ice fishing equipment were way down at Capra's Sporting Goods.

"It was slow and there were no ice conditions that were safe to go out on," said Oftedahl. "It plummets."

But one benefit to having a mild, Minnesota winter is that grouse, pheasant and turkey numbers should be up this year. It's that last fowl that Oftedahl hopes will help turn the tide.

"You can see in the cities they are in your backyard now," said Oftedahl. "The population and the people hunting them is growing as well."

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Each spring hunters use turkey call along with their choice of firearm or bow. This season, they'll also be allowed to use a crossbow for the first time, something Oftedahl thinks will attract younger hunters.

"They are very accurate and, if they miss, there's not a loud bang. So there are a lot of benefits to the crossbow hunting for turkey," said Oftedahl.

Turkey hunter Fred Ardhoff says his older child is already talking about using the crossbow when they head to their blind this April.

"My boys have just loved it for years. Blake shot his first turkey at 7. Zachary shot his first one at 6," Ardhoff said.

While Oftedahl knows some hunting traditionalists won't use a crossbow, they've already been a popular sell. As of now, Capra's is out of stock.  

"It gets people into hunting. Whether it's deer, whether it's turkey, we want people to get into hunting," said Oftedahl.

Another turkey hunting change this year is that hunters using blinds on public land will be required to have fluorescent orange on their blinds, measuring 12 feet by 12 feet.

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