From the DNR
With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and potential system issues associated with the high sales volume.
The 2012 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 3.
Deer licenses can be purchased for $27 at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-MN-LICENSE (665-4236) or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense.
There are additional fees for telephone and Internet transactions.
Hunters who purchase licenses by phone and Internet will receive their deer license and tags by mail, which can take three to five business days to arrive.
Hunters must have a valid deer license and tag in their possession when hunting deer.
The DNR Information Center and License Center at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, will extend hours on opening weekend to accommodate additional phone calls from deer hunters.
Phone lines will be open on Friday, Nov. 2, until 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Hunters need to be familiar with deer hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.
License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367.
Hunters urged to review trespass law
From the DNR
A flurry of reports of hunter trespass on private property ranging from Bemidji to Rochester to Hibbing to Marshall was reported during last weekend’s Minnesota pheasant opener, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
With the firearm deer season getting under way Nov. 3, the DNR reminds hunters that there is one sure way to avoid problems associated with trespassing: “Always Ask First.”
“Trespass is the biggest problem landowners have with hunters,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director.
“It is critical for hunters to have good relationships with landowners, especially when you consider that in some parts of the state, such as southwestern Minnesota, about 95 percent of the land is privately owned.” Konrad added, “If hunters and other outdoor recreationists would just make it a standard practice to always ask for permission before entering any private land, those relationships would improve a lot.”
Konrad encourages all hunters and landowners to obtain a copy of the 2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and review the trespass information on pages 6 - 8.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to be very familiar with the trespass law,” said Konrad
Trespass penalties range from a $50 civil fine to a criminal penalty of a several thousand dollars, confiscation of vehicles and hunting equipment, and revocation of hunting privileges for up to two years.
DNR outlines most common firearm deer hunting violations
From the DNR
Minnesota’s firearm deer gets underway Nov. 3. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters to follow the rules.
According to Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director, most hunters are law abiding, but there are common hunting violations that occur every year.
Konrad said in 2011, conservation officers issued 157 citations and 52 warnings for hunting over bait, while 93 citations and 24 warnings were issued for transporting an uncased/loaded firearm.
Shooting from the road right-of-way at big game is also a top violation, with a five-year average of 68 citations and eight warnings each year.
Failure to validate a tag, untagged game, and having no license round out the other top hunting violations for 2011.
Other common infractions include trespass, deer shining, failure to register game and license not in possession.
“Hunters must know their responsibilities when they get into the field,” Konrad said. “Wildlife laws are written for safety and to protect valuable resources.”
Hunters with questions on Minnesota’s hunting laws should consult the 2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.
DNR also encourages hunters to protect the future of their sport by hunting responsibly and reporting hunting violations to the toll-free Turn-In-Poacher (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093.
Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.
Safe deer hunters are never sorry
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges deer hunters to make safety their first priority when Minnesota’s firearm deer season opens Nov. 3 by taking the time now to plan for a safe and successful hunt.
There are many considerations to take into account before the opening morning, according to Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Division education program coordinator.
“First, are you going to hunt public or private land? If you are hunting public land, plan that there will be other hunters in the area,” said Hammer. “Scouting for deer signs and signs of other hunters is important to help determine a set-up location during the early morning hours before the season starts.”
Hammer noted knowing the safe zone of fire is especially important.
“Properly identifying your target and who or what’s beyond the target is a basic rule of hunting safety,” Hammer said. “Hunters must always be aware of surroundings and never shoot at a sound, which could be from another hunter rather than a deer.”
Hammer urges hunters to check elevated stands for proper tree attachment before hunting.
He also recommends using a fall arrest system when leaving the ground, and using a haul line to raise and lower unloaded firearms.
“Falls from elevated stands are a leading cause of injury for deer hunters,” said Hammer
Ground blinds are becoming increasingly popular with deer hunters because they offer protection from the wind, rain and snow.
Hammer said it’s important to place blaze orange on the outside of such blinds to alert other hunters.
Deer drives also present several potential safety problems. “Plan your deer drive around safety,” Hammer said. “Everyone involved should know the plan and stick to the plan.”
Hammer offered other safety reminders:
• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
• Always control the muzzle, keeping it pointed away others and yourself.
• Keep fingers outside the trigger guard until you are absolutely sure it’s safe to fire.
• Carefully identify your target, ensuring you have a safe backstop before shooting.
• Never load or unload firearms around others.
• Be sure that the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
• Never climb a tree or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.
• Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.
• Always ask permission before entering private land
• As a guest of the landowner, act accordingly.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while hunting.
• Wear plenty of blaze orange; the minimum requirement is a blaze orange cap and blaze orange above the waist
Hammer said hunting safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Hunters should refer to the big game hunting section of the 2012 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for detailed information concerning deer hunting regulations or call DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 for more information.
Surplus early wolf season licenses go on sale today (Mon.)
From the DNR
Applicants not selected in this year’s early or late season wolf license lottery can purchase a surplus license on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at noon on Monday, Oct. 29, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
There are 614 surplus licenses available for the early season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 3, and coincides firearms deer season in each of Minnesota’s three wolf hunting zones.
Any eligible hunter, regardless of whether he or she entered the wolf season lottery, may purchase a remaining early season license at noon on Thursday, Nov. 1.
The DNR allocated 3,600 wolf licenses for the early hunting season.
The remaining 2,400 licenses are for the late season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 24, and concludes Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.
Trappers were allocated 600 of the late season licenses.
Surplus wolf licenses are available from any DNR license agent, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236. Complete wolf hunting regulations are available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/wolf.
Hunters and trappers selected by lottery for the late season must buy their licenses by Thursday, Nov. 15.
Wet weather challenges hunters during first Camp Ripley hunt
From the DNR
Archers took a two-day total of 208 deer during the first bow hunt Oct. 18-19 at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The second two-day hunt is scheduled for Oct. 27-28.
“Wet weather greeted hunters and made it challenging for them to maximize their time in the field, with most of the hunters leaving by midday on Friday,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager. ”Nevertheless, hunters still did well, resulting in the ninth highest harvest for the first hunt.
“For the ninth year in a row hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer,” Liddell said. “Harvest was above average. We are pleased that fawns and does comprised 61 percent of the harvest.”
The total harvest of 208 deer thus far is 14 percent above the long-term average harvest of 182 deer for the first hunt.
“Unless we get poor weather, we’re on pace to register another top 10 harvest for both hunts combined,” Liddell said.
There were 2,502 permits issued for the first hunt, with 2,059 hunters participating, for a participation rate of 82 percent (down from 84 percent last year).
Hunter success was 10 percent (identical to the long-term average for the first hunt).
Seven hunters took their bag limit of two deer.
“With 14 consecutive mild winters in this part of the state and strong harvests since 2000, Camp Ripley’s deer herd is in good condition,” Liddell said. “Many hunters who provided comments indicated they saw numerous deer.”
Five adult bucks tipped the scales at or above 200 pounds.
The largest buck registered weighed 215 pounds, taken by James Higgins of South Haven.
Of adult does registered, the largest weighed in at 142 pounds, taken by Gerald Hartung of Clear Lake.
The DNR coordinates the hunts with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.
DNR removes burning and campfire restrictions except for 18 central MN counties
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is removing the burning and campfire restrictions in counties in northwestern and southeastern Minnesota, while 18 counties in east-central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, remain under burning/campfire restrictions.
Counties that have burning/campfire restrictions include: Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Washington and Wright.
Campfires or recreational fires outside municipalities are allowed only in a designated receptacle designed for such use and associated with a residence, staffed campgrounds such as state parks, or resorts.
Counties in the northwest and southeast parts of the state will once again be under local control.
Residents should be aware that conditions can change daily and some counties may still limit burning as conditions warrant.
The DNR advises residents and homeowners to use caution if they conduct open burning.
Although much of Minnesota received precipitation sufficient to lower the chances of fires starting and spreading, soil moisture is still well below normal and should a fire start, there is a chance peat soils could ignite.
Any piled material should be located well away from peat soils.
Fall weekends bring many people outdoors to recreate, including hunters, campers, and others who want to have campfires, according to the DNR.
Everyone is urged to use extreme caution where campfires are allowed, keeping them to no larger than three feet high by three feet wide.
Charcoal fires are allowed at this time, but they should not be left unattended.
Make sure fires are completely out before leaving.
People are responsible for costs to extinguish a fire if it gets away.
Fire conditions change quickly. More information, maps, and fire conditions, are on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: I recently saw a gray squirrel with black fur. How rare are they?
A: Good question! I don’t know how rare they are. They are a color variation that is not as well adapted to typical squirrel habitat and life in the wild.
However, under the right circumstances and in some locations (probably where predators are less prevalent) they can survive well.
There are certain locations, usually small towns and cities, where they are relatively common and where there appears to be a strong component of the genes for that color variation in the squirrel population.
I grew up in a small town that had another variation quite commonly. We had white squirrels.
CO weekley reports
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies worked on several tip calls.
CO Mies checked deer and waterfowl hunters.
CO Mies worked on Trespass calls along with giving a safety law talk at an ATV class in South Haven.
• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a presentation to a youth snowmobile safety class in St. Michael this week.
Reller also checked waterfowl, deer hunters and followed up on several complaints.
Reller also assisted at the CO academy and a work crew in Mille Lacs and Benton counties.
• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked the trapping opener, duck, goose and pheasant hunters were checked having fair success.
Trespass complaints were investigated on deer archery hunters on posted private property.
Telephone calls were returned on hunting questions every day.
• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) assisted with a capture of an injured Trumpeter Swan near Assumption Lake.
The swan appeared to have been shot and was suffering from lead poisoning.
The swan was taken to a rehabilitation center.
Mueller investigated a TIP complaint of hunting in a State Game refuge near Hutchinson.
Mueller assisted the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office with a stranded boater on Stahls Lake.
Anglers, pheasant hunters and duck hunters were also checked throughout the week.
• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked mostly angling and pheasant hunting enforcement during the week.
CO Oberg also did follow up on a wetland violation.
CO Oberg spoke at the firearm safety class at the Dassel Fire Hall.
DNR statement regarding Supreme Court decision
From the DNR
The Minnesota Supreme Court today denied a petition for further review of a request for preliminary injunction to stop Minnesota’s wolf season.
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said this action resolves any uncertainty that hunters and trappers might have had about the upcoming season, which begins Saturday, Nov 3.
The planned wolf hunting and trapping seasons will go as planned this fall and winter.
The DNR has taken a conservative approach to the state’s first wolf season by establishing a total target harvest of 400 wolves and a mechanism to close seasons when target harvests are reached.
Landwehr said Minnesota has a robust population of about 3,000 wolves, and the season will not have any significant impact on the population.