Newsroom Midwest Region

Beyond football: Big game in the north

February 2, 2018

As excitement grows for the Big Game, people are journeying north to Minnesota to watch football and celebrate northern culture. In the midwest, football season and hunting seasons overlap and our states draw hunters and anglers from across the country. Here are three of our big game species that are worth the journey north.


Turkey

These two turkeys don’t mind the snow, and neither do turkey hunters. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.
These two turkeys don’t mind the snow, and neither do turkey hunters. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

Wild turkey are the largest game bird in North America weighing between 10 to 24 pounds. With a wingspan of 4 feet, these birds can fly 55 mph and run 25 mph. Wary, with excellent eyesight, hunting wild turkey can be a challenge.


White-tailed Deer

Two white-tailed bucks in a field. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Two white-tailed bucks in a field. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

In some areas, white-tailed deer is synonymous with hunting. The first day of deer season is an unofficial holiday, with high absenteeism at offices and classrooms. White-tailed deer weigh between 110 to 300 pounds, stand 3 feet at the shoulder, and can run 30 mph. Although curious, their keen sense of smell can alert them to predators.


Northern Pike

A young angler with a northern pike. Photo by Neil Powers/USFWS.
A young angler with a northern pike. Photo by Neil Powers/USFWS.

As the days get colder and shorter, most people look to the forecast for inches of snow but anglers watch the weather for inches of ice. The biggest game in ice fishing is the northern pike - one of the biggest freshwater sportfish in the country. Record breaking northern pike can reach 4.5 feet long and weigh 60 pounds. Although these fish are eager to take bait, they will put up a fight.


As the Big Game celebrations bring new visitors to the region, we hope their introduction to our natural resources will bring them back. The midwest has many opportunities to make connections with nature, including our big game, through outdoor recreation activities like hunting, fishing or wildlife watching.