RED WING — The spring turkey hunt is well underway in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In a time where many of our routines have been disrupted, the annual hunt has been a welcome respite for area outdoorsmen.

“The number of people on the nicer days, I’ve seen quite a few,” said Derek Schneider, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer. “I’ve seen a lot of toms strutting so the activity is also good.”

Although the hunt is occurring in the midst of a pandemic, little has changed from previous years. Since most hunters set up their blinds on private land, hunter-to-hunter contact is limited and safe social distancing is easily practiced.

The only change made for this year’s hunt involved a new option for Minnesota hunters to purchase a license. This year, licenses could be purchased over the counter rather than through lottery. The decision was made in large part to public input indicating a desire for increased opportunities to purchase licenses as well as greater flexibility in hunting location.

In fact, Schneider recommends hunters that haven’t purchased a license to do so over the counter instead of online.

“I’ve been getting quite a few calls by hunters that get their license online, but the state is delayed to mail out their license and tag so they don’t get it in time,” he said. “They shoot their bird but don’t have a tag to put on it.”

Since hunters are required to tag and register birds after one has been bagged, it has left some who purchased their licenses online in limbo. A solution, recommended by Schneider, is to purchase a duplicate license at a licensing station. Duplicate tags cost $2.50.

The hunt, which began April 15 in both states will conclude May 26 in Wisconsin and May 31 in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, hunters that didn’t tag a turkey during Hunts A through E will have another opportunity. Firearm hunters can participate in Hunt F — May 20-31 — if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunts.

“There is a very stable amount of birds in the area,” Schneider said. “The toms are really active and the population is so good.”