Where can I hunt? While I'm not a hunter, a number of my friends are, and that's a common question they pose. It's getting harder and harder to find lands that a hunter can gain access to in order to hunt.

The DNR has expanded a program known as the Walk-In Access program from 35 counties to 46 counties. This program now includes Steele and surrounding counties. How it works is the DNR will pay landowners who will allow hunters to hunt on their land. Hunters then purchase a $3 validation when they buy their license and this entitles them to hunting on about 23,000 acres in Minnesota.

Here's a look at some of the details. The landowner must have at least 40 acres comprising natural vegetation, CRP land or maybe river bottom land. The DNR pays the landowner $10 per acre. If the parcel is 140 or more acres, it's $1 more. If a two- or three-year contract is signed, that adds another dollar and if the land is within a half-mile of other public hunting land, another dollar is added. A landowner could get up to $13 per acre. With the contract, the landowner gets full coverage liability insurance. There is no op out penalty, just give a five-day notice if the landowner decides it isn't working out for them.

Sign up of land is now through April 28.

To sign up or find out more, contact the Steele County Soil and Water Conservation office.

Hunters who want to find out where the Walk-In Access hunting land is may go to the Minnesota DNR website and type in Walk-In.

Use of Walk-In Access hunting land is for September 1 through May 31. Since last week, two acreages have been signed up in neighboring Waseca County, with several inquiries so far from Steele County landowners.

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