St. Paul Legislation to restrict “recreational shining,” the
practice of using spotlights to observe deer at night, is unlikely
to pass during this session, much to the frustration of deer
hunters and landowners who say that activity is annoying and very
likely leading to the poaching of trophy whitetail bucks.
“Landowners are getting fed up with the candlepower of shiners,”
says Jim Panek of the Winona Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters
Association (MDHA). “If you have a nice field, it gets shined by
car after car.”
Once an effective technique used by poachers to acquire illegal
venison, shining has become an acceptable way to view deer after
dark. Deer generally freeze when a powerful beam is shined in their
Unfortunately, while many people shine deer just to look at
them, others use spotlights to locate trophy bucks. Sometimes no
one knows how often the bucks are killed by illegal methods, such
as night-shooting or by trespassing on private land.
In addition, landowners must tolerate spot-lighting of their
property, livestock, and even their homes. In early autumn, shining
can be almost continuous in places where deer are abundant. From
Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, shining is prohibited from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m..
The rest of the year it can occur all night. Shiners cannot possess
weapons unless they are unloaded, cased, and in a closed trunk.
Panek says his chapter has been trying to restrict shining since
1992, but has been blocked in the Legislature by northern chapters
of the MDHA, which do not believe the activity is a problem.
The activity is also a concern of southeastern Minnesota’s
Blufflands Whitetails Association. Past president Mike Rains says
the group doesn’t want to end shining, but would like to see the
activity prohibited from public roads.
An amendment to restrict shining was attached to the Game and
Fish Omnibus Bill in the Senate by Sen. Doug Johnson, DFL-Cook. It
is not expected to pass the full Legislature.