Beginning Sunday, Sept. 1, 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.

“This program opens up new opportunities for hunters,” said Nate Mullendore, Walk-In Access program coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “The Walk-In Access program allows hunters to access high-quality private land, and it also makes it easier for landowners to allow that access.”

The program pays landowners to allow hunter access. Hunters with a $3 Walk-In Access validation may hunt from a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset during open hunting seasons between Sept. 1 and May 31. No additional landowner contact is necessary. More than 260 sites are available through the program. Bright yellow-green signs have been placed on Walk-In Access boundaries.

Hunting seasons open Sept. 1 for mourning doves, crows, snipe, sora and Virginia rail. Hunting seasons open Saturday, Sept. 14, for several small game species including squirrels and rabbits. The Minnesota pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 12.

All Walk-In Access sites are shown together with public hunting land boundaries in the Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass online. Digital maps for individual Walk-In Access sites, along with additional property information and updates can be found on the DNR Web site. 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,” said Scott Roemhildt, DNR southern region director. “The program has grown every year in its existence, partly 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 non-resident hunting licenses, a one-time appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature in 2012 and donations from hunters. 

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– Photo courtesy of the DNR