The Minnesota DNR website is a fantastic. It has more information available than you would usually need in order to plan an outing. The information is arranged in a very hierarchical and organized way, which usually lets you get to the information you want easily. Unfortunately if you want to look up more complex information that spans several of the categories, there’s not an easy way to do so.
Finding Public Land in the Twin Cities Area (MN Hunting Area 601)
One of the difficult things to figure out is where you can go hunting near the Twin Cities. This map shows the area boundaries, and it is easy to see that area 601 is the area which covers from Anoka to Hastings to Chaska. If you’re new to Minnesota, or are just getting into hunting or you just want to try somewhere new or close to home there’s no obvious good way to look up what huntable public land exists within the 601 hunting area boundaries.
The DNR does have a web page dedicated to publicly accessible hunting land in Minnesota. It is divided into types of land, and then by county. If you’re like me, you don’t care much if it’s a WMA, WPA or National Forest, you just want to see your options. Making it more difficult only Ramsey county is completely inside area 601. Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott ,Washington and Wright counties all straddle the border. When you use the county lookup tools to search for land, you need to search each of the counties and then check if each of the results is inside of 601 or not.
It’s Not Just Hunting
I have deer on the brain right now, but it’s not just about hunting. Many of the public land locations are prime bird and wildlife watching spots and are good places to take a hike, a picnic or even a family photo shoot.
What We Need Is a Map
I want to be able to easily see what land is available to plan trips with friends, and to also let my wife know where I’m going so she doesn’t worry. 10 years ago I would’ve had to sit down with some platt books, a paper map and a Sharpie; today Google Maps gives us tools that are good enough.
Presenting The Metro Hunting Map
It’s not much to look at yet, but it does have the area 601 borders and 4 pieces of public land listed, so maybe that’ll be helpful to someone. It is my intention to continue to add to this map and to continue exploring the public land that’s so close to home.
View Metro Hunting in a larger map