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Can you hunt on Camp Ripley?

Camp Ripley is a 53,000 acre military training site located in central Minnesota. With its mix of forests, wetlands, and open fields, Camp Ripley provides excellent habitat for deer, bear, turkey and small game. This leads many outdoor enthusiasts to ask: Can you hunt on Camp Ripley?

Hunting Opportunities at Camp Ripley

The answer is yes, there are opportunities for public hunting at Camp Ripley. However, hunting access is limited due to the year-round military training conducted at the camp. Here are some key facts about public hunting at Camp Ripley:

  • Camp Ripley opens sections of the military facility to public hunting when training activities allow.
  • Hunting seasons, open areas, and registration procedures vary each year based on the training schedule.
  • Hunting is only allowed during designated seasons with proper permits.
  • Popular game species include whitetail deer, black bear, turkey, and small game.
  • Both archery and firearms hunting may be allowed depending on the season.
  • Hunting access is available through both lottery drawings and a limited number of daily permits.

Overall, there are opportunities for public hunting at Camp Ripley each year, but they are very controlled and limited compared to other public lands in Minnesota due to the military mission.

Registration for Camp Ripley Hunts

Here is an overview of the registration process for public hunting at Camp Ripley:

  • Lottery applications are accepted in spring/summer for archery and firearms deer hunting, turkey hunting, and early bear hunting seasons.
  • Daily permits are also allocated for later bear and small game hunting seasons.
  • Permits are allocated through the Minnesota DNR using a lottery process.
  • Successful lottery applicants purchase permits directly through the DNR.
  • Daily permits are available through Camp Ripley’s Environmental Office on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Hunters must check-in and out with Camp Ripley when accessing hunting areas.

Following the registration procedures and rules is critical, as access is very controlled. All hunters must meet eligibility requirements and follow military rules to maintain future recreation opportunities.

Who Can Hunt at Camp Ripley?

Hunting at Camp Ripley is available to the general public under certain eligibility guidelines:

  • Must be eligible to purchase applicable Minnesota hunting licenses.
  • Must not have any wildlife violations in past 3 years.
  • Must complete a Camp Ripley orientation and follow all rules.
  • Veterans and active military receive preference in drawings.
  • Must be at least 11 years old to hunt deer and bear.
  • Youth only hunts available for small game.
  • Non-residents allowed for turkey, bear, and small game only.

Overall, Camp Ripley tries to provide quality hunting experiences while honoring current and past military members. Hunters must follow all state and federal hunting regulations to maintain eligibility.

What Game Can You Hunt at Camp Ripley?

Here are the typical seasons and species available for hunting on Camp Ripley lands:

Deer Hunting

  • Archery – Late September through December
  • Firearms – Limited availability in November
  • Muzzleloader – December or January
  • Whitetail deer only.

Turkey Hunting

  • Spring season – April & May
  • Fall archery-only season – September & October

Bear Hunting

  • Early season – September
  • Firearms – Limited availability in September
  • Archery – September & October

Small Game Hunting

  • Squirrel, ruffed grouse, rabbit, & other small game
  • Limited seasons in September, October, November
  • Youth-only hunts available

Season specifics change annually based on both the military training schedule and MN DNR regulations. Hunters should verify season dates and open areas before applying.

Where Can You Hunt at Camp Ripley?

While Camp Ripley has over 50,000 acres, only certain areas are opened for public hunting each season. Accessible areas vary by year and hunting season based on scheduled training activities. Here are some details:

  • Primary hunting zones are along the perimeter of the camp or in dedicated recreational areas.
  • Interior areas of the camp have very limited access.
  • archery hunters may receive additional access compared to firearms.
  • Huntable areas may range from a few thousand acres up to 15,000 acres.
  • Hunters are provided maps of designated hunting compartments for each permit.
  • Access gates and check-in/out procedures must be followed.

Hunters who receive permits should closely review provided maps before accessing their hunt zone. Unexpected range activities occur, so hunters must follow check-in and signage rules for safety.

Types of Permits Available

There are a few different permit options available for public hunting at Camp Ripley:

Lottery Permits

  • Distributed through pre-season application lottery
  • Offer priority hunting access for a particular season
  • Common for archery deer, firearms deer, spring turkey, and early bear seasons
  • Allow access for multiple days or weeks

Daily Permits

  • First-come, first-served daily permits
  • Offer more limited single day access
  • Used for later bear and small game seasons when demand is lower
  • Available directly through Camp Ripley Environmental Office

The lottery system allows for advanced access planning, while the daily permits provide flexibility to accommodate lower demand. Veterans and current military receive preference in lottery drawings.

Camp Ripley Hunting Rules

Here are some key rules hunters must follow when accessing Camp Ripley:

  • Must carry permit at all times when hunting.
  • No target shooting allowed.
  • Tree stands or blinds must be temporary and identified with permits.
  • All Minnesota hunting regulations and seasons apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and cased when transported by vehicle.
  • No motorized vehicles off established roads.
  • No alcohol possession or use allowed.
  • All weapons and ammunition prohibited in cantonment area.

Violating rules may result in citations, immediate expulsion, and loss of future access privileges. Hunters need to closely follow military instructions for a safe and successful hunt.

Why is Hunting Limited at Camp Ripley?

Public hunting opportunities at Camp Ripley are constrained by its primary military mission. As an active training facility, the following factors limit recreational access:

  • Year-round training requires flexibility to schedule different ranges.
  • Many training activities are not compatible with public access and safety.
  • Natural resources management must align with military training needs.
  • Additional monitoring and coordination is required when the public is on site.
  • Security concerns with open access to a military base.

While these factors limit huntable areas and seasons, Camp Ripley still tries to accommodate public recreation when possible. This requires extensive annual coordination between the MN DNR, Camp Ripley Environmental Office, and camp commanders.

How to Apply for Camp Ripley Hunts

Here are the key steps for applying to public hunts at Camp Ripley:

  1. Review annual hunting opportunities and seasons when posted by MN DNR.
  2. Submit lottery applications for desired hunts during application windows.
  3. Ensure eligibility requirements are met.
  4. Check drawing results when posted.
  5. Successful applicants purchase applicable permits through DNR.
  6. Review rules, maps, reporting procedures, and other instructions for accessing Camp Ripley.
  7. Scout the hunt zone in advance if possible.
  8. Check-in at entry gates when accessing for hunts.

Applying early for lotteries maximizes chances for popular hunts like archery deer and spring turkey. Veterans should apply using priority status when available. Daily permits can supplement other public lands opportunities.

Where to Get More Information

Here are some key sources for additional details on hunting opportunities at Camp Ripley:

As a secure military facility, public communication about Camp Ripley is limited, so checking multiple sources is important. Hunters should verify details directly with the Environmental Office as needed.

Hunting Alternatives Near Camp Ripley

For hunters who don’t draw Camp Ripley permits or want additional public land opportunities, there are other public hunting options in the vicinity:

Paul Bunyan State Forest

  • Over 100,000 acres bordering Camp Ripley.
  • Manages for mix of recreation and timber production.
  • Offers a wide range of game hunting.

Wildlife Management Areas

  • Rice Lake WMA – Wetland hunting south of Camp Ripley.
  • andezvous Island WMA – Mississippi River hunting access.
  • Swanville WMA – Mix of fields and woods.

Walk-In Access Areas

  • 200+ acres of private land open to public hunting.
  • Options for pheasant, deer, turkey, etc.
  • Access controlled by DNR.

Focusing on these public options near Camp Ripley can provide a variety of backup hunting sites. The region offers top-notch opportunities for deer, bear, turkey, and small game.

Should You Apply for Camp Ripley Hunts?

When considering applying for hunting at Camp Ripley, weigh the following factors:

Pros Cons
  • Excellent habitat and game populations.
  • Less hunting pressure than most public lands.
  • Preference given to military members.
  • Unique experience on secure military facility.
  • Very limited openings and restricted access.
  • Must follow strict military rules.
  • Opportunities vary significantly by year.
  • Nearby alternative public lands may offer more flexibility.

The limited hunting access at Camp Ripley makes it a unique opportunity. Veterans and current military have the best chances in drawings. Hunters that can accommodate the tight restrictions may find the enhanced habitat and lower pressure rewarding.

Planning a Camp Ripley Hunting Trip

Here are some tips for planning a smooth and successful hunt at Camp Ripley:

  • Prepare Early – Apply for lotteries as soon as possible. Scout alternative public lands as a backup.
  • Review Rules – Note all equipment, driving, check-in/out, safety, and alcoholic beverage rules.
  • Study Maps – Identify parking areas, trail systems, boundaries, and facilities in hunt zones.
  • Dial in Gear – Ensure stands, blinds, clothing, and equipment follow requirements.
  • Check Communications – Confirm radio channels to monitor for training updates.
  • Pack Safety Essentials – First aid, survival kit, GPS, etc. Remote areas with limited access.
  • Have Backup Plans – Be ready to adapt if training closes part of your hunt zone.

Preparation and flexibility are key when accessing a restricted military training area. Following proper procedures helps maintain future hunting opportunities at Camp Ripley.


Hunting at Camp Ripley provides a unique opportunity due to its prime habitat and limited access. While availability is constrained by military activities, dedicated hunters can find special experiences through both the lottery and daily permit systems. Veterans and active duty personnel even get preferential drawing status for these coveted hunts. Hunters who match their skills and adaptability to Camp Ripley’s tight restrictions can tap into an outstanding resource for Minnesota’s outdoor enthusiasts.