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Two turkey hunting zones open in Carlton County

Turkeys were never supposed to get this far north. But next week, hunters will be calling gobblers in two new hunting zones in parts of Carlton County.

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Turkeys were never supposed to get this far north. But next week, hunters will be calling gobblers in two new hunting zones in parts of Carlton County.

"Twenty years ago, I never would have expected it," said Rich Staffon, area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Cloquet. "Turkeys were just taking off in Southeastern Minnesota. We even wondered if they'd make it there. Then they made it to the Twin Cities and just kept going."

Five hunters will be allowed in each of the two new turkey hunting permit areas -- 156 and 183 -- during each of Minnesota's eight hunting periods this spring.

Wild turkeys were introduced in Pine County, just south of Carlton County, about three years ago, Staffon said. Some birds probably have moved north into Carlton County, and some may have moved over from Wisconsin, he said. They appear to be doing well.

"I think it has more to do with artificial feeding of deer, which benefits turkeys," Staffon said, "and we've had several winters with hardly any snow. Here in the last couple of years, we've noticed a real increase in people seeing turkeys all over the county. They're amazing birds, tough and adaptive, maybe more than we realized."

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