Hunters register 54,000 deer during first weekend

November 17, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota hunters registered 54,000 deer during the first three days of firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Final numbers from the weekend show that the number of deer registered dropped 30,000 from 2013.

So far this year, including special hunts and the archery season, hunters have harvested 67,000 deer, down from the 2013 to-date harvest total of 100,000.

“Comparing this year’s harvest to harvests in previous years doesn’t necessarily reflect hunter opportunity or the number of deer on the landscape in 2014,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader.

This year’s lower harvest is by design because regulations were implemented to place more deer – particularly does – off limits to increase Minnesota’s deer population.

The DNR’s ongoing deer management work also includes upcoming revisions to the deer population goals for large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota.

This is part of a multi-year goal-setting process for the entire state.

People interested in helping set these deer population goals can get more information on the process and opportunities for involvement at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continued through Sunday, Nov. 16.

Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 23; the late southeastern season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 30; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 29, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 14.

10 new conservation officers begin their initial field assignments
From the DNR

Ten new Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are in their field stations following 16 weeks of field training.

“These officers were recently added to the ‘thin green line’ sworn to serve the citizens by providing law enforcement and education programs,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “We are proud to have them aboard and look forward to what they can accomplish by working with the communities they serve.”

The new officers and their field stations are: Eric Benjamin, Warroad No. 1; Hannah Cowden, Warroad No. 2; Marc Hopkins, Tower; Nick Klehr, Litchfield; Joe Kulhanek, Hastings; Bill Landmark, Moorhead; Chelsie Leuthardt, Bloomington; Nick Prachar, Baudette No. 1; Beau Shroyer, Remer; and Jim Van Asch, International Falls No. 2.

The 16-week field training followed graduation from the 12-week Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley.

During field training, recruits are paired with experienced conservation officers to gain on-the-job training for natural resources management and law enforcement-related activities before receiving their initial field station assignments.

“When our recruits finish our academy, we know that they have received the best training available anywhere, but we take it a step further with intensive field training with an experienced field officer,” Soring said.

Deadline nears for those seeking to serve on DNR fish work groups
From the DNR

Volunteers who want to join five citizen-agency work groups that will discuss how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages fish have until Wednesday, Nov. 19, to apply.

There will be individual work groups for bass, catfish, panfish and walleye, and one that will focus on both northern pike and muskellunge.

Each group of 10 to 15 people will include volunteers and DNR staff who meet two to three times per year to discuss new research, population and harvest trends, and fisheries management.

Volunteers may apply to one of the five groups and citizens can nominate themselves.

Participants will be selected by the DNR and can serve a term of either two or three years.

Meetings average four to six hours including travel time.

The groups are advisory and do not make decisions on policy or fish management.

Go to www.mndnr.gov/fisheries/management/workgroup.html for more information or an application form.

Minnesota’s snowmobile trails open Dec. 1
From the DNR

Despite the recent snowfall throughout much of Minnesota, snowmobile trails are not yet ready for riding, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota’s snowmobile trails officially open Dec. 1; however, several conditions must be met before trails open and are ready for travel:

• Ground must be frozen allowing for crossings in wet areas.
• Trails must have adequate snow cover – about 12 inches – on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.
• Landowner permits that allow trails on private land must be in place.
• Trails must be cleared of dead fall, signs need to be in place and gates need to be opened.

The vast majority of the state’s 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trail system exists on private property with written permission from the landowner.

The permission allows snowmobile use only from Dec. 1 through March 31.

When the trails open, the DNR urges early season riders to use caution.

Early season trails may have fallen trees or other debris across the trails, unfrozen areas, rocks or ruts, or standing crops and closed gates.

In preparation for Dec. 1, the DNR reminds riders to verify their snowmobile registration is current.

Information on registration as well as snowmobile trail maps and snowmobile safety course information are at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/index.html or by contacting the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157, 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNR seeks applications for OHV grants
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking applications for grants to support off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail projects and new trail proposals.

Application forms for projects on existing trails are due to a Parks and Trails area supervisor’s office each year by Nov. 30. New trail proposals are accepted throughout the year.

First authorized in 1984, Minnesota’s OHV trails assistance program is a cost-share program intended to help develop and maintain trails for use by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs).

Known as the OHV grant-in-aid (GIA) program, it helps to establish and maintain recreational trails at the initiative of clubs and other organizations, with the support and participation of local government sponsors.

Organizations can apply for GIA funds through counties, cities or townships.

All aspects of OHV trail development and maintenance are eligible for funding, including project administration, site planning, trail improvements, land acquisition for trail development, and trail maintenance.

Proposals with a focus on maintaining or improving existing trails and trail systems will be assigned a higher priority.

Program and application information is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/recreation/gia_ohv.html or by contacting the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157, 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Still time to apply to serve on DNR deer goal setting teams
From the DNR

People interested in helping the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources establish deer population goals for large portions of the state have until Monday, Nov. 17, to apply online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Volunteers are being sought to join five advisory teams that will develop deer population goals for large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota.

Each team will focus on deer goals for a specific region, or goal-setting block, of the state.

Goal-setting blocks consist of multiple deer permit areas that have been grouped by habitat type.

Once selected, each team will review biological and social data as well as public input collected at meetings and through online and written questionnaires.

After considering and discussing this information, each team will recommend a deer population goal for each of the permit areas within its goal-setting block.

DNR staff will review the data for each goal block as well as advisory team goal recommendations and final public comments on team recommendations before making final goal decisions.

This is the third year the DNR has worked with citizens to reassess and revise deer population goals in Minnesota.

Goals for southwestern and a portion of northern Minnesota were set in 2012.

Goals for southeastern Minnesota were set last year.

Goals for the deer permit areas not part of the 2015 process will be set in 2016.

Individuals can serve on one team.

They nominate themselves by completing an online application.

For the application, descriptions of the goal setting blocks and information on the selection process, go to www.mndnr.gov/deer.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) worked the deer hunting opener several deer cases made.
CO Mies also checked waterfowl hunters.
CO Mies took part in a radio program on deer hunting and worked on tip calls.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) had a busy week with many phone calls about the deer hunting season and following up on several investigations.
CO Reller found that deer harvest appeared to be similar to last year in the area.
The waterfowl hunters took advantage of migration push south at the end of the week with some later migrants showing up in the bag such as bluebills and golden eyes.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, no blaze orange, hunt in a SNA and no PFD on board watercraft.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked deer hunting opener.
He issued summons and written warnings for hunting over a baited area, lend and borrow deer license, failure to validate deer license, transportation of untagged deer, allowing a minor to violate fish and game laws.
He checked a number of duck hunters.
He followed up on a trespassing complaint.
He answered a number of deer hunting questions

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) handled calls on car killed and injured deer.
The deer opener was worked but hunters had poor success.
Trappers and waterfowl hunters were having good success.
Telephone calls were returned daily.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking waterfowl hunters and patrolling wildlife management areas.
CO Grewe worked the deer opener and provided a ride along to an individual interested in the profession.
Violations included unplugged shotgun, no hunting licenses and leaving a deer stand unattended overnight on state property.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) saw a slow start to the firearms deer season.
She saw a couple youth on opening weekend with their first deer.
A few deer were checked during the weekend, and a few license violations were noted.
Duck hunters had some success as the colder weather and wind brought ducks thru the area.
ATV registration issues were also dealt with during the week

• CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) has been officially stationed in Litchfield just in time to work the busy firearms season deer opener.
During the week calls were taken about trespass complaints, stands left in public hunting area, and car killed deer possession tags.
Baited deer stands were checked during the opener with citations and seizures of equipment and deer.
On the opening morning a call was taken of a hunter that shot two deer with one shot.
The hunter claimed he never noticed the second deer until he shot and noticed two deer dropped.
The second deer was seized from the hunter and given to a family in need.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports working a busy opener to the firearms deer season.
The wind seemed to play a large role in keeping the deer harvest down.
No surprise that baiting was an issue yet again.
An incident involving a deer being shot with a rifle in the shotgun zone was dealt with.
Oberg also saw some issues with allowing illegal juvenile hunting.
Oberg’s favorite part of the deer season is getting to talk with young hunters after they shot their first deer.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Which tree species are most abundant in Minnesota?

A: Our most abundant tree species in Minnesota is the quaking aspen with an estimated population of more than 3.5 billion.

The next most abundant species (in order) are balsam fir, black spruce, black ash, paper birch, tamarack, red maple, northern white cedar, sugar maple and balsam poplar.