Harvesting of wild rice requires a boat (usually a canoe), ricing sticks (flails) and typically a push pole to move the boat through the thick stands of wild rice. Regulations and equipment restrictions vary from state to state and within reservation borders. Below is a summary of regulations for state lakes (off-reservation). Be sure to check the appropriate document for complete details.
Minnesota (found in the DNR Hunting Regulations handbook)
Licenses: Harvesting of wild rice is open to residents of Minnesota and non-residents. Currenly nonresidents must purchase a one-day license ($30) and residents may purchase either a season ($25) or one-day license ($15). A license is required for anyone 18 and older. Residents under age 18 may harvest with a licensed harvester.
Equipment: Boats/canoes may not exceed 18 feet in length and 36 inches in maximum width. Flails used to harvest wild rice must be round, smooth, and made of wood and no longer than 30 inches in length and one pound in weight. Push poles used to move the boat must be forked at the end with the fork less than 12 inches in length.
Season Dates and Hours: The harvesting season opens in Minnesota as of August 15, in 2009 and closes September 30th. Harvesting hours are from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily. The harvesting of unripe wild rice is unlawful. Wild rice usually ripens sometime after mid-August, but each lake varies and wild rice beds within each lake vary in regards to when they ripen. Wild rice on the same stalk tends to ripen over a period of days so harvesting wild rice too early can damage and reduce wild rice yields.
Restricted Areas: In 2009 a few lakes will be posted in regards to opening dates. Those lakes cannot be harvested until posted open. SORA will have that information on-line, including the lakes affected, once they are identified. Other areas closed to harvesting include National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, except when authorized by special permits.
Indian Reservation Restrictions (General)
All native wild rice within the existing boundaries of the White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Indian Reservations is managed by the respective reservation wild rice committees. These committees establish the opening date, days and hours of harvest no less than 24 hours prior to the opening.
Wisconsin (excerpted from DNR Wild Rice Harvest)
Licenses: Harvesting of wild rice is open only to residents of Wisconsin. A license is required for anyone age 16 to 65. A harvesting license costs $8.25. Immediate family members may harvest rice under the same permit as long as they have received special wild ricing identification.
Equipment: Boats/canoes may not exceed 17 feet in length and 38 inches in maximum width. Flails used to harvest wild rice must be round, smooth, and made of wood and no longer than 38 inches in length. Push poles or paddles must be powered by muscular strength.
Season Dates and Hours: Harvesting hours are from10 a.m. to sunset daily. In Wisconsin many of the prime wild rice lakes are date regulated – meaning they may only be harvested when posted open. Postings occur on the lakeshores at places of public access at least 24 hours before the beginning of the season. On lakes not subject to a specific wild rice season and on all flowages, rivers and streams, rice may be harvested whenever it ripens. Wild rice usually ripens sometime after mid-August, but each lake varies and wild rice beds within each lake vary in regards to when they ripen. Wild rice on the same stalk tends to ripen over a period of days so harvesting wild rice too early can damage and reduce wild rice yields.
Tribal Off-Reservation Regulations Permits
A tribal Off-Reservation Natural Resource Harvesting Permit is required for off-reservation ricing. This permit is available free of charge at your tribal conservation department. You must carry your permit with you when ricing off-reservation. For additional regulations and information click on the links for the appropriate off reservation site (excerpted from Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission – Wisconsin and Minnesota).