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Firearms deer season opens Saturday

November 3, 2008

by Chris Schultz

Site in the rifle or shotgun, get out the blaze orange, vote, and make all those final preparations to head to your special place in the woods, field, or swamp for the opening day of the 2008 Minnesota Firearms deer hunting season.

Locally hunters will be dealing with a lot standing corn and a new season structure. Gone is Zone 4 and the first week end with two days of hunting and second weekend with 4 day of hunting.

Now Zone 4 is part of Zone 2 and the season in our neck of the woods that is in Zone 2 runs consecutive days from Nov. 8 to Nov. 16.

If you’re not familiar with all of these changes please refer to the 2008 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

Good luck to all those deer hunters and please remember to be safe, courteous, and cautious and not competitive when you’re in the field hunting this season.

Moving on, the duck hunting in our area and across much of western Minnesota really picked up in the few days. Last week, amidst a steady rain I had a tremendous duck hunt near Montevideo.

Mallards were there in big numbers, a few widgion were around and there was still a teal or two in the area. Other reports from our area have also been good, with a fair number of northern ducks showing up after last weeks storm which included heavy wind and snow.

Although duck hunting has gotten better, local pheasant hunting as been tough. Fewer birds than most of us expected, which is also the case across Minnesota’s pheasant range, and for too much standing corn still in the fields for good hunting. The bight spot is that even with fewer birds the slower corn harvest may create some of the best late season hunting we have had in years.

Finally, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4 and if you believe the constitutional amendment dedicating dollars for our natural resources is the best way you can serve, enhance and protect those resources, vote yes and support it.

2008 Northeastern MN moose hunt results
From the DNR

The 2008 bulls-only moose hunting season in northeastern Minnesota ended on Sunday, Oct. 19, with hunters registering 111 bull moose at 11 registration stations scattered across Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties over the 16-day season.

This compares with 115 bull moose harvested in northeastern Minnesota in 2007, which was the state’s first bulls-only season ever.

This year’s lottery included 239 once-in-a-lifetime bull-only moose tags issued in 30 zones to 237 hunting parties. Moose hunting is limited to resident hunters in parties of two to four hunters.

Hunting success was 47 percent in 2008, compared with 50 percent in 2007.

Hunters experienced good overall moose hunting and field conditions over the majority of the season.

Opening week weather featured seasonably warm days and cool nights.

It rained during the second weekend which likely limited the harvest.

Normal fall weather returned for the remainder of the season, with typically cool days and nights.

• Testing and Monitoring

DNR and Fond du Lac wildlife managers collected biological samples (brain, lymph node and tissue) from state and tribal hunters at moose registration stations in Ely, Finland, Duluth, Two Harbors and Grand Marais to try and assess moose health and physical condition for the second consecutive year.

Hunting parties were provided kits to assist them in taking various muscle, tissue, and blood samples from their kills.

Managers were very pleased with hunter cooperation and participation.

Samples will be analyzed in the lab and results may help determine the declining trend in the northeastern Minnesota moose population.

Research biologists report that one of the 53 radiocollared moose, eight of which are legal bull moose, were harvested during the season.

As part of the ongoing moose mortality study in Lake and Cook counties, hunters are told to ignore the collars in their search for a moose because researchers want to get a better idea of the importance of hunting as a source of mortality.

The northeastern Minnesota moose population is estimated at 7,600 animals throughout St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.

The state’s harvest goal is conservatively set at 5 percentof the winter population.

First Camp Ripley bow hunt produces record-breaking harvest
From the DNR

Archers took a record of 325 deer during the first of two two-day bow hunts held Oct. 19-20 at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

“Weather conditions were superb, allowing hunters to maximize their time in the field, resulting in an excellent harvest,” said Beau Liddell, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Little Falls area wildlife manager. “For the fifth year in a row hunters at Camp Ripley were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer. Most of those taken -- about 67 percent – were fawns and does.”

The harvest represents a 41 percent increase from last year and is 160 percent above the long-term average harvest of 126 deer for the first hunt.

“If weather cooperates for the second weekend, the total take for all four days could easily smash the record 514 deer harvested at Camp Ripley in 2005. The harvest thus far is already 16 percent above the long-term average of 280 for both hunts combined,” Liddell said.

There were 2,504 permits issued for the first hunt, with 2,139 hunters participating, for a participation rate of 85 percent.

Hunter success was about 15 percent (7 percent higher than the long-term average of 8 percent), and 13 hunters took their bag limit of two deer.

“With eleven consecutive mild winters and strong harvests since 2000, Camp Ripley’s deer herd is in good condition, and most hunters who provided comments indicated they saw numerous deer,” Liddell said. “The good harvest experienced thus far is due to strong effort by hunters, high deer densities, excellent hunting weather, and a high number of hunters in camp.”

Of adult bucks weighed, 11 tipped the scales more than 200 pounds.

The largest buck weighed 234 pounds, taken by Brady Sutherland of Jeffers. Jeffrey Wickline, of Clearwater, took a buck nearly as large, weighing 225 pounds.

Tracy Welsh of Sauk Rapids harvested the largest doe of the first hunt, weighing 155 pounds.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What does the DNR do with animals that are taken illegally (poached)?

A: Poaching, whether game or nongame species such as swans, is a serious offense.

It is not only a waste of the state’s precious resources but also infringes on everyone else’s right to hunt, fish and watch wildlife.

The DNR tries to ensure that the animal poached is not wasted, that it is put to good use whenever possible.

Meat from illegally harvested wild game such as deer is often donated to food shelves and other organizations that serve those less fortunate.

However, sometimes meat must be thrown away or destroyed. This has been especially true for fish.

The DNR has an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health to dispose of meat, such as pre-packaged fish fillets, that is not deemed safe for consumption.

It is often difficult to determine whether or not the packaging was done properly.

In some circumstances, the poached animal, or parts of the animal – such as deer antlers – are turned over to schools and other educational institutions for study.