Sandstone WMA designation creates additional hunting access, and some changes

A land exchange between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in the designation of a new state wildlife management area in Pine County.

The change creates additional hunting opportunities for archers pursuing big game, and small game hunting and trapping, but the site is not open to waterfowl hunting or firearms hunting for big game.

Located 1 mile southeast of the city of Sandstone, Minn., the new Sandstone Wildlife Management Area (WMA) includes 2,045 acres of land that was formerly part of the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Sandstone WMA retains its status as a waterfowl refuge and is closed to all waterfowl hunting.

Big game hunting (deer, bear and wolves) is open to archery hunting only. This WMA falls within the no-quota area for bear hunting, permit area 159 (Hunter’s Choice) for deer hunting and the east-central wolf zone for wolf hunting/trapping.

Small game hunting is open under statewide regulations and permitted within the season framework for the various small game species found on the WMA.

“Currently, the forest habitat on the WMA is relatively old, which likely limits opportunities for ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting,” said David Johnson, Willow River area assistant wildlife manager. “Our future forest habitat management plans for this WMA will be directed at improving the habitat for ruffed grouse and woodcock.”

Spring and fall turkey hunting is open under statewide regulations. The WMA is within turkey permit area 508.

Trapping (raccoon, skunk, fox, mink, beaver, otter, fisher and bobcat) is permitted within the season framework for these species. Trappers must first obtain a permit issued by the Cloquet area wildlife supervisor to trap beaver and otter.

Parking areas and hunter walking trails have been mowed to provide access to portions of the WMA. Future enhancements will likely include improved walking access for hunting and fishing along the Kettle River.

For more information about Minnesota’s 1,440 WMAs offering 1.29 million acres of wildlife habitat, visit