Sunday, December 27, 2009

Google earth

While looking at the Minnesota DNR website recently I discovered that they now have some data file available for Google earth. If you do not know what Google earth is it is a program that you install on your computer from Google that allows you to have a Google maps style program that shows a lot more information and you can turn different layers on and off. If you would like to get Google Earth you can get it from Google's web site here. The download for the free version is in the upper right of the page.

Once you have Google earth you can download from the MN DNR website some files that add additional layers. The layers that I know the MN DNR provides is one for WMAs that include information on the WMA size, boundary, parking and name. The other layer that the MN DNR has is one for what they call hunter walking trails. These are trails that go through state forests and WMAs that hunters can use. You can find additional information on these files that the following MN DNR web pages and also download the files there.
hunter walking trails:
Data for Google maps:

Data for Google maps:

Below is a quick screen capture from Google earth running on my computer (only actual image generated, none of the program) that shows one of the WMAs near McGregor (outlined in red), MN along with one of the hunter walking trails (the yellowish line in the WMA labeled "North Access Trail"). Also in the are is a national wildlife refuge outlined in green. To see a higher resolution version click on the image.

State forests

One of the many available public hunting land options in Minnesota are the state forests. These for the most part are all open for public hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities. A complete map showing the location of the named state forests can be found here on the MN DNR website. When you click on the state forest name it will take you to that state forest's page on the MN DNR website. From these pages you can access the state forest map for that state forest. These maps are more detailed than other maps that may only show the outline of the area that encompasses the state forest. For example the Savanna State forest map which can be found here (PDF file) at the MN DNR website show the following land within the state forest boundary:
  • State forest
  • Indian reservation
  • WMAs
  • SNAs (scientific and natural areas)
  • county land
  • state park
The map includes hiking, skiing, snowmobile, and ATV trails along with the roads in the area. It also includes the state forest roads that are on few maps.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aquatic management areas

While out pheasant hunting this past weekend I ran across a new type of Minnesota public hunting land that I had never seen. These new tracts of land are called "Aquatic Management Areas" (AMA) and sound like they are similar to WMAs in that they are open to public hunting, but are meant to protect some critical habitat for aquatic life in cold water stream. The one that I know of can be found in this area on Now looking at the map and from being in the area the AMA is just to the north west of the Buttermilk Run WMA on the other side of Murray County Rd 38. There is a stream that runs through it to Armstrong Slough. It is bordered on the north and south by farmland. For a map that show the AMA in some detail (as I have been unable to find any detailed maps showing where these are) you can kind of make out the outline on this map from google maps which is an aerial view of the general area. The one nice thing about AMAs is that their signage is similar to that of WMAs in that they are both the yellow signs and it is easy to confuse them while driving down the road, but this is fine as they are both open to public hunting.

Currently the MN DNR has a 25 year plan for acquiring an additional 1500 miles of cold water streams. The current plan is running from 2008 to 2033 and additional details can be found here from the MN DNR in their "AMA acquisition report" which was published in October 2007. If you do not have a PDF reader on your computer the MN DNR also offers a text version of the "AMA acquisition report".

Hopefully I will be able to find some more information on these areas, but in the mean time I encourage you to add any that you find to the project as anyone can edit this map.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An interactive Map from the MN DNR

One of the best resources I have found on the internet for Minnesota hunting maps is on the MN DNR web site. They have a section called Recreation Compass that is an interactive map of Minnesota on it. You can zoom into the map on the areas and see additional detail. Also some of the map features can be clicked on after selecting the information button (it has a pointer and an "i" on it). When doing this it will take you to the page on the MN DNR's website for that land. Things that are clickable are:
  • state parks
  • WMA
  • State forests
  • National Forest
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • Scientific & Natural Area
  • Lake
I have used this tool in the past as it has provided lots of useful information when planning hunting trips. Also there is an option to download the map. What this link will do is generate an image file covering the area currently displayed and will open it in a new screen. You will then have to either save the image or print it your self, but it does produce a decent map that is useful in the field.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 MNDNR Pheasant Prospect Map

The Minnesota DNR now has available on their site the 2009 Pheasant Prospect Map in the pheasant hunting section of their site. This map is based off of the 2009 Pheasant hunting prospects map which can also be found at the Minnesota DNR Pheasant hunting section of their website. From looking at the 2009 map compared to the 2008 map (which can be found here at the MN DNR site) it looks like this years prospects will be worse than last year in large portions of the state. The looks to be especially true in the south west portion of the state where last year it was almost all in the good range (>49 pheasants per square miles) where as this year it looks like the fair and poor ranges have expanded. Also it looks like there is a large new area that is now only fair that use to be good. In the more norther part of their range things also appear to have gotten worse as there use to be some areas that were labeled as good but this year it looks like the best rating was fair.

Note: the above links are to PDF files. If you need I PDF viewer you can get a viewer from the Adobe site here, or from Foxit site here (you will want to get the free Foxit reader). I am in no way associated with either Adobe or Foxit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Minnesota Public Land Map

If you are not lucky enough to have your own private land to hunt in the state of Minnesota or your land isn't ideal for all the game you would like to hunt there are plenty of potential public lands that one can hunt. Some of these lands are easy to find like major state forests or large WMAs that are shown on most other maps. Unfortunately these maps don't ever seem to show all of the public land that is available to hunt. Below is a map that I created of the state of Minnesota that shows all of the public land that might be open to hunting plus a few areas that are not (Indian reservations for instance).
To view a higher resolution image of the map click on it. This file is a .gif file and has a resolution of 3000x3545
Dark green areas are land that is more than likley open to public hunting. These include:
  • WMAs
  • state forests
  • state forestry land
  • state land that is county administered
  • federal land that is part of the GAP stewardship program
  • state land that is part of the GAP stewardship program
  • county land that is part of the GAP stewardship program
The light green area is the BWCA
Red areas are Minnesota state parks
Pinkish areas are Native American reservations

If you are wondering what the GAP stewardship program is you can read about it here at it officaial web site. The National Biological Information Infrastructure ( website is part of the United States Geological Survey. To findout what this program was took a large amount of digging when I first ran across GAP stewardship land so hopefully the above links will help others out when searching for what this program is. There are also private lands which are part of the GAP stewardship program that I chose not to include on this map as I do not know if they are open to hunting or not.

As always know where you are hunting as not all public land is open to hunting or to hunting of specific species. The above map is meant to provide you with additional information on areas that may be possible hunting locations.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A minnesota Map with WMAs

Here is an interesting online map from the site It is a map of Minnesota, but when you zoom in it appears to show a bunch of the Minnesota WMAs. When zoomed in on an area with more detail like this view near Tyler Minnesota (south western Minnesota) you can see the WMAs in the area. OpenStreetMap is a project similar to Wikipedia in that anyone can edit the map and upload features. So if you know of some public hunting land that isn't already included on the map you can add it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

detailed topo maps

Now that we know how to get to places you might want to know what the land is like in a given area. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides this information for free on their web site. From this page at the USGS web site you can download all of the current USGS topo maps in a PDF format. If you would prefer to have a paper map you can order one from the USGS from the like provided above but depending on what area you want to look at this may require multiple maps. So if you are interested in obtaining a custom topo map I would suggest this site ( as I have been pleased with the maps I have ordered from them as you can get them on waterproof paper (more of a plastic paper) that has held up well out in the woods.

I am in no way affiliated with but have used their products and have been happy with the results since they offer better prices than Kinko's does and I was able to get what I wanted without talking to a stupid highschooler who didn't know anything.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How do I get there

Since most of the maps that I have been providing have been large area hunting specific maps this post is meant to be one that isn't specific to hunting but should be useful for getting there. This link is to the Minnesota DOT highway map that is published every 2 years. This is a pdf map and is about 5MB. If you are not interested in the whole map you can download smaller sections of the map at this page from the MNDOT web page. If you would like a paper map you can usually pick on up at the first rest stop inside minnesota along an interstate, I usually pick mine up on the one on 94 comming in from Wisconson. You can also request a free map by calling the Minnesota Office of Tourism at 651/296-5029 or by sending an e-mail to

Monday, August 10, 2009

New 2009 hunting regs and deer map

Well it has been a while since I last posted but it has been busy so I haven't been able to get to anything that I have wanted to do until now. I checked and the new MN hunting regulations are out as is this year's deer zone map. The new hunting regulations can be found here at that MN DNR website or picked-up where you buy your license. The 2009 firearm deer zone map can be found here at the MN DNR website. One thing that I noticed on the deer zone map is that there appears to be a new type of limit zone where as before there were only the following 5:
  1. lottery (1 deer, lottery for anterless)
  2. managed (2 deer, either sex)
  3. invasive (5 deer, either sex)
  4. no limit anterless (bovine TB area and Twin cities metro area)
  5. closed (Red Lake Indian Reservation )
This year however there is a new type of zone that appears in south western Minnesota. It is labeled as "Youth Antlerless Only - 1 deer limit" and are the yellow areas on the the 2009 deer zone map. From reading the text on the map it sounds like these areas only youth are allowed to apply for anterless permits but that is done by lottery. Those youth who don't get selected and all adults are only allowed one buck. This is only my interpretation of what is written there and you should consult the official MN hunting and trapping regulations for 2009. This is covered in section "STATEWIDE ANTLERLESS DEER INFORMATION" on page 70 which contains information on all of the anterless lottery information. I am not too concerned as I do not hunt these areas, but it may be of interest to others so I point it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where are the pheasants

Well for a change I decided to put up a link to where the pheasants are in Minnesota. This is a PDF file from the MN DNR and is from last year which can be found here. This is the roadside survey that the DNR does to get an idea of the pheasant population in the state. From year to year this map doesn't change much, but there are some slight changes each year but this one is representative of what to expect. Once the 2009 survey and map is out I will provide a link to it here also.

I have had good luck while hunting in the Benson area seeing birds, but in the morning my party went the wrong way and only saw hens while the other party got all the roosters. In total though we saw a large number of birds and the other party of got their limit on opener within 30 minutes. If I remember correctly my party saw about 2 dozen or so birds, with only 1 being a rooster though.

I have consistantly seen birds in the Tyler area (extreme south west minnesota) without having a dog. In a typical day it wasn't uncommon for 3 guys without a dog to flush 8-10 birds. Also this is prime pheasant teritory with the more prairy like setting and lots of grain farming. If you can find a field that is currently beign harvested and is next to public hunting land it is some of the best phesant hunting I have done as the combine drives the birds out of the field towards the public land.

I have even had success up in the St. Cloud area but there it is harder to find the birds and a good dog is pretty much a necessity. Typically I have had more success in the St. Cloud area later in the season since then the swamps have frozen and if you are willing to push through the swamp you can flush a lot of birds out of the cat tails in this area. Also hunting here after a snow fall is nice since then you can easily find their bedding area which is usually along a windbreak of pine trees.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where are the deer?

Well I did some more searching on the MN DNR website and I ran across these 2 maps. They are for '07 and '08 and they each is a pre-fawn deer density map. Neither of these maps provides an exact number so it would be difficult incorporate the data in an accurate way with the harvest map that I created, since I would like to normalize the harvest data against things like the deer density or hunter density but I have been unable to find this data. Intuitively one could do some estimates based off of these 2 maps and the harvest map that I created that would provide some useful insight.

Note that these maps like most maps from the Minnesota DNR are in PDF format and require a PDF reader which you can get at or my preferred PDF reader

Also if anyone know where I can get some of the raw data that went into creating these maps that would be helpful since.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

1993 - 2005 Total harvest per square mile by area

This map is a map I made from the data that the MN DNR has made available through the DNR data deli. It is a color coded map of the deer harvest from 1993 to 2005 with the the darkest blue areas being the areas that have had the lowest harvest per square mile and the reddest areas having the highest harvest per square mile. The progression is from dark blue to yellow to dark red. Typically dark blue areas 0-3 deer are harvested per square mile each year while the darkest red area has between 10 -12 deer harvested per square mile each year. Also the deer areas have changed over time so for some of the areas that are shown on the map there may be multiple colors.

Click on the map to get a high resolution version. I offer this map for free for anyone who wishes to use it for non commercial purposes all other rights reserved.

2009 MN DNR Camp Ripley Archery Deer Hunt

So as an initial map I offer up the Minnesota DNR's 2009 Camp Ripley Archery Deer hunt map as the deadline for applying for this special hunt is quickly approaching. The deadline to turn in your applications for this hunt is due Friday August 14th. There are 2 hunts this year October 15 & 16, and October 31 and November 1. For those who are interested you can find the complete rules on the MN DNR web site here, and if you want the application it is available here at the MN DNR web site.


Welcome to MN hunting maps. Why did I create this blog, well because I am relatively new to hunting and one thing that I have noticed is that there really aren't any maps that exist that tell me what I want to know. I do know how to create maps which I will be doing and plan on offering large nice maps that can be taken into the field for sale. At present I have not done this but as it is a ways out from hunting season, I still have time. I will be posting various maps up here that other Minnesota hunter may find of value. Some will be maps that I create, other will be links to maps from other sources as I do not want to take credit for maps created by other people or organizations.

So as a base reference map I offer up the Minnesota DNR's 2009 Camp Ripley Archery Deer hunt map as the deadline for applying for this special hunt is quickly approaching. The deadline to turn in your applications for this hunt is due Friday August 14th. There are 2 hunts this year October 15 & 16, and October 31 and November 1. For those who are interested you can find the complete rules on the MN DNR web site here, and if you want the application it is available here at the MN DNR web site.

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