Summer wrap-up before fall hunting and fishing
Autumn hunting seasons will be running full throttle in a matter of days and hours. This weekend marks the beginning of early Canada goose, black bear, and mourning dove hunting seasons, and two weeks after that (Sept. 15) the archery deer and small game seasons will begin.
Big deadline on Sept. 6
Reminder that Thursday, Sept. 6 is the deadline to apply for an either-sex deer or special area permit. Take a look at the DNR’s pull-out 2012 Minnesota Deer Firearms Map from the fall hunting regs, and you’ll see that deer area management designations have changed dramatically from a year ago. I count six intensive harvest permits areas (with a five-deer limit) – all of them north of the Twin Cities in east-central Minnesota. There were 21 last year scattered around the state.
My happy hunting ground in Permit Area 346 near Winona is managed (two-deer) limit after many, many years of being intensive harvest. Contributing writer Tony Peterson was in my office last week lamenting that an area he hunts in southeast Minnesota is hunter choice – a one-deer limit.
Per my column this week, given the incredibly mild winter we experienced last year, I initially expected a liberal season structure to manage the bumper crop of deer that the state no doubt produced this spring.
Under the normal line of deer management thinking, that might be the case, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR Wildlife research manager. Concern among hunters after last season that deer numbers have dropped too low, however, prompted the DNR to apply a more conservative strategy this year. Many areas that have had bonus permits in the past do not this year. Coupled with the mild winter of 2011-12, the system could produce a booming deer population within the next couple of years. Those of us who remember even lower deer numbers in the 1990s know how quickly the population can bounce back when nature cooperates. Even an average 2012-13 winter could mean ample deer on the landscape a year from now.
Bottom line, the odds are much more likely this year that you’re hunting in a lottery or hunter choice permit area in 2012, so apply by this Thursday, Sept. 6, for an antlerless deer permit.
It’s “don’t shoot collared bears” season!
The DNR issued its annual press release requesting that law-abiding hunters pass on shooting a bear with collar. I always love the early days of the bear season, when responsible men and women who pay $38 for a bear license get raked over the coals for… legally shooting a bear. I’m so looking forward to the Twin Cities television media reporting, ad nauseum, the story of someone inevitably shooting a “research” bear next week. It happens every year, and it’s sad that the hunters who pay the state to manage Minnesota’s abundant bear population have to deal with this unnecessarily bad publicity.
Tim Lesmeister and I have chatted about this on Outdoor News Radio several times, and I’ll repeat my personal take. If I were bear hunting, and a bruin approached with a visible collar, I’d probably pass, simply because I don’t want a bear bad enough to deal with the publicity it would unleash.
But that’s me, and I wouldn’t blame any other hunter – in fact I’d wholeheartedly support – any man, woman, or child who chose to double-lung said bear. I don’t buy that it screws up bear research; death by hunting is part of the equation for any game animal.
So good luck to all state bear hunters. That season begins Saturday, Sept. 1.
Here’s the text of the DNR’s collared bear release from Thursday, Aug. 30.
Hunters participating in Minnesota’s bear season are reminded to avoid shooting radio-collared research bears, which are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.
Hunters are likely to find collared bears in and near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area; the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge; the Chippewa National Forest; Camp Ripley; the Cloquet Forestry Station; Voyageurs National Park; and northern St. Louis County between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes.
Photos of some collared research bears are available on the Minnesota DNR website. Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at (218) 327-4146 or (218) 327-4133.
New home for Minnesota Deer Classic
Looking ahead to winter, one of the state’s biggest consumer hunting shows has a new home. The National Sports Center in Blaine announced last week that it had acquired the Minnesota Deer Classic from long-time owner Hugh Price. The event has been around 30 years, and the 2013 Deer Classic will be held in the NSC’s Schwan Center March 1-3, 2013
There will be an official public announcement of the transfer of ownership on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. at the Sport Expo Center at the National Sports Center. Hugh Price and NSC officials will be available to answer questions. Tours of the Sport Expo Center will be available, and refreshments will be served. The public and media is invited to attend.
From the official press release on the transition:
By utilizing all the space at Schwan Center, including the new Sport Expo Center, the NSC will be able to accommodate about 170 booths. And in addition, Classic director Greg Savino said the NSC will be able to offer some new activities not feasible at the State Fairgrounds.
“We’re looking at using some of the other available space at the NSC to hold events that would be fun for a hunting audience,” said Savino. “You might see an archery 3D competition, a dog shed antler hunting event, or some other creative enhancements that we’re working on. You might even see some outdoor events.”
The Deer Classic will have a strong commitment to education, with seminars and workshops scheduled throughout the weekend.
Price started the Minnesota Deer Classic in 1982. Earlier this year, he indicated a desire to sell the show and retire. The NSC and Price have been in discussions about the Classic for several months.
“We’re proud to be able to step in and continue the tradition of the Minnesota Deer Classic,” Savino said. “We’re respectful of everything Hugh has built with this event. For him, it has been a labor of love and a way to invest in building the Minnesota hunting resource. We hope to continue his proud legacy.”
Price will stay involved with the Deer Classic as a consultant. He will also retain ownership of the Minnesota Record Book, the Deer Classic’s signature publication, in which hunters come to the Deer Classic to register noteworthy antlers, as measured on the Boone-and-Crockett and Pope-and-Young system.
The Deer Classic joins the NSC’s growing stable of outdoor sports shows, including the inaugural Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo, November 16-18, 2012, the Minnesota Anglers Expo, February 8-10, 2013 and the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo, March 22-24, 2013. All these shows will be based at the Schwan Center, and they all will utilize the new 21,000 square foot Sport Expo Center as their primary exhibit space.
For more information on the facility, click here.