The earlier the better.

That's the thinking of many of Minnesota's 45,000 to 50,000 turkey hunters when it comes to the spring hunt, which opened Wednesday. Many want to hunt early for gobblers, rather than later in May, figuring their odds are better of dusting a big tom.

And they're right.

From 2001 to 2010, average hunter success for season A was 43 percent -- the highest of any of the eight time periods. Season B was a close second, at 39 percent. But the success rate drops off after that.

Part of the reason, of course, is there are fewer gobblers alive for hunters in later seasons.

Still, some hunters prefer the later seasons because there is less hunting pressure, and the weather is warmer. And there are anomalies to the "earlier the better'' theory. Hunters in season E had a 32 percent success rate, slightly higher than C (31 percent) or D (28 percent). Success rate for F (28 percent), G (25 percent) and H (23 percent) round out the season.

Meanwhile, the season opened with a bang: Hunters registered 1,249 birds after the first two days of the season, compared with 1,000 last year. Harvest was down considerably last year because of cold, rainy weather.

Fee hike stalled; supporters to rally

The proposal to raise Minnesota's hunting and angling fees -- something that hasn't been done in 11 years -- remains stalled at the Legislature.

But hunters, anglers and others who support the fee increases plan to rally at the State Capitol Rotunda at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Legendary angler Al Lindner is scheduled to be among the speakers.

"We're trying to bring attention to the need for funding for the game and fish fund and to fight aquatic invasive species,'' said Vern Wagner, vice president of Anglers for Habitat, one of the organizers. Without a fee increase, the game and fish fund is headed into the red in 2013, and DNR officials say drastic cuts to programs would be needed.

Conservationist McMillan dies

Don McMillan, 74, of Mendota Heights, president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack Tuesday. McMillan also a past president of Safari Club International, and an active member of many conservation and outdoor-related groups. Visitation is at 9 a.m. and services at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Church of the Assumption, 51 W. 7th St. in St. Paul. Reception to follow. For more, see Dennis Anderson's blog at

Did you know?

• The DNR is auctioning off confiscated hunting and fishing equipment on April 28. A list and photos are at

• The big Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo, which includes dozens of speakers and seminars, is Friday-Sunday at the Minneapolis store. See

• Reports from Minnesota's trout opener varied, but many anglers near Winona said it was the most people they had ever seen trout fishing on opening day.

• Your 2011 fishing license expires April 30.