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Hunters reminded that bonus permits use limited this season

November 3, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Hunters in most of the state are not allowed to use bonus permits to take antlerless deer during the 2014 season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Bonus permits are only allowed in seven of 129 deer permit areas this year,” said Maj. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. “You cannot use a bonus permit to tag a deer if it was harvested outside of these seven areas.” Salo added that bonus permits are also allowed in some special hunts and encouraged hunters to review the regulations as described in the 2014 regulations synopsis.

Permit areas that allow use of bonus permits in 2014 are:
• Intensive deer areas 182, 346 and 349.
• Managed deer areas 114, 287 and 343.
• The metro deer area 601.

By design, more deer will be off limits this year as a one-deer bag limit rules most of the state and opportunities to take more than one deer are few and far between. The DNR implemented these regulations to help increase Minnesota’s deer population.

Bonus antlerless permits are different than antlerless permits that can be used in lottery deer areas. In lottery areas, bonus permits are not allowed; however, hunters had until Sept. 4 to apply for a limited number of antlerless permits for these lottery areas, where the bag limit is one.

Hunters continue to have the option of harvesting one deer in a bucks-only, lottery or hunter choice area, and also using a bonus permit in an intensive or managed area, the metro area 601, or some special hunts. The bag limit in managed deer areas is two; the bag limit in intensive areas is five; and hunters in the metro permit area 601 can take an unlimited number of antlerless deer. But regardless of area or license type, an individual hunter can only take one buck per year.

For more information on deer hunting and to see a permit area map, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

Conservation 2014 deer season will rebuild herd, challenge hunters
By Tom Landwehr of the DNR

Like more than 400,000 others, I am anxiously awaiting Saturday, Nov. 8, when Minnesota’s firearms deer hunting season begins.

There’s nothing like it. The days of advance scouting. The physical struggle of putting up the new stands. The straining for vision and sound in the pre-dawn light of opening day. Anticipation is in full swing for weeks, and then it is upon us.

As I prepare for this year’s hunt, I am fully aware that I, like many other hunters, am less likely to bag a deer than in recent years. In fact, the lowest deer harvest in decades is expected under a harvest plan designed to rebuild the herd.

We are conserving deer – does in particular -- this season to improve deer numbers in the future.

Overall, most hunters in the state will be able to harvest only one deer. In much of northeastern Minnesota, where two consecutive severe winters took a toll on deer, hunters will only be able to shoot bucks. For me, someone who loves to eat venison, it will be tough to let a big doe go by. But, the deer herd can rebound quickly, and passing on the doe this year will contribute to a much larger herd next year.

For much of the recent past, the deer herd has been at historic high levels, and harvests have reflected that. In the past five years, and under a plan devised with hunter and landowner input, the DNR deliberately reduced the size of the herd. Today’s populations are close to the goal numbers we set some six years ago. The severe winters of the last two years have driven herd levels lower than where we’d wanted them.

Over the past two years, we at the DNR have heard from hunters that deer numbers are now too low and that efforts to reduce deer numbers have gone too far. In listening sessions and in other ways, many have said it is time to rebuild the population. We agree.

So, this will be a conservative deer season with more protections for antlerless deer throughout much of the state. The harvest could be as low as 120,000. That’s not many deer compared to recent harvests that have approached 200,000 animals. But, because they respond quickly, we will likely see some liberalization even next year.

Meanwhile, do know the DNR needs your help in re-evaluating deer population goals across the state. This goal-setting process began in 2012 in southern Minnesota and moved to southeastern Minnesota in 2014. Goals for the remainder of Minnesota will be set in 2015 and 2016. We want to hear from you.

How can you get involved? Starting in January, you can send in comments or attend public meetings to discuss deer populations in the region or area where you hunt, live or work. You’ll also be able to provide input through a questionnaire designed for the process. You can even volunteer to serve on one of five advisory teams that will recommend deer population goals for each goal-setting block. You can nominate yourself through Monday, Nov. 17. Apply online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Even with the reduced harvest, I am really looking forward to the deer opener. I will be spending much of the season with my son, Hunter. He’s a good partner. Like me, he enjoys the sights and sounds of the woods, likes sharing stories at the end of the day, and really likes the report of his trusty .308.

It’s possible we’ll see some antlerless deer we can’t harvest, like many other folks. And that’s OK. It’s OK because we are rebuilding the herd. And it’s OK because for us success is not only about filling tags. It’s also about spending time together, being hunters, enjoying the outdoors and building the memories. We’Il have a good time together. And I expect even better times ahead.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What is a rocket net, and how is it used by the DNR?

A: A rocket net is a propelled net used for capturing wildlife.

The net is pulled by electronically-ignited explosive charges contained in vented chambers (rockets).

The rockets pull the net through the air, and the animals are captured as the net falls on top of them.

Rocket nets come in different sizes, but the ones we use for capturing waterfowl are commonly about 40 feet long by 60 feet wide.

These nets can capture hundreds of ducks at one time, which is especially useful when we are banding ducks before the fall hunting season.

The key to rocket nets is they are fast – the net is fired and fully-deployed, usually in less than a second.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies worked on deer stand cases in WMA.
CO Mies checked deer and waterfowl hunters, and worked on complaints.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) continued field training of a COC.
Areas worked included AIS, ATV, angling, waterfowl, small game and archery deer.
CO Reller and his COC responded to a TIP call concerning waterfowl hunters shooting late.
Four juveniles were found to be in violation.
They were under the impression that they could shoot up to a half hour after sunset; enforcement action was taken and parents of all juveniles were contacted.
Calls for service included a fire at Lake Maria State Park where a campfire got out of control and caught an area of grass, brush and leaves on fire, prompting a response from multiple agencies to get the fire extinguished.
A reminder that this is a time of year to be extra cautious when having recreational fires, due to winds, dry conditions and accumulated fallen leaves.
Enforcement action was taken for taking wild animals without a license in possession, insufficient PFDs on board a boat, failure to sign federal duck stamp, hunt deer over a baited area, take migratory waterfowl in closed hours, take small mouth bass in closed season, take small game after closed hours and operate a Class 1 ATV on a public highway.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) followed up on a deer hunting TIP.
He issued summons and written warning for lending and borrowing of a deer license.
He caught a great horned owl and had it delivered to the Raptor Center.
He assisted with another injured trumpeter swan which his rehabilitation team caught and took in for rehabilitation.
He checked waterfowl hunters and took enforcement action on a number of violations.
He worked invasive species inspection at a number of accesses.
He answered waterfowl hunting questions regarding the Mississippi River.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) followed up on AIS violations.
Waterfowl hunters were worked all week having poor success.
Anglers were checked on area lakes and rivers.
Calls were returned daily on hunting and trapping questions.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week monitoring hunting activity and investigating ongoing complaints.
CO Grewe responded to a shoreline violation and answered several questions on the upcoming deer season.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) patrolled in Renville and Redwood counties along the Minnesota River where ATV’s have been driving in the WMAs, making illegal trails, disturbing legal hunters and causing damage to the rock outcrops.
Enforcement action was taken on ATV’s driving within the WMA.
She also responded to a call of people shinning for deer in the early morning hours.
Duck and pheasant hunters were checked throughout the week.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports little success pheasant hunting around the area.
Hopefully prospects will pick up as crops are harvested.
Oberg spent time following up on a trespass case as well as nuisance animal calls.
A burning violation was also handled with enforcement action taken.