Isle, Minn. It was no secret that with a deer herd over 1.1
million, and antlerless permits available like they’d never been
before, Minnesota hunters just might harvest a few deer this year,
many of them of the antlerless variety.
While “official” numbers haven’t been offered, a check at
several registration stations in the state indicates predictions
for a high harvest may come to fruition.
“Our registration numbers are up probably 60 to 80 percent,”
said Steve Johnson, of Johnson’s Portside near Isle. “We’re near
areas with intensive harvest permits and management permits, and a
lot of people are taking multiple deer.”
Within intensive permit areas hunters are allowed to take up to
five deer, four of which must be antlerless. In managed permit
areas, two deer may be harvested, at least one of which must be
antlerless. In those types of areas hunters also were able to
purchase the additional permits over the counter this year, instead
of applying for the extra permits.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of hunters, and most of
the deer have been yearling fawns and young bucks,” Johnson
On Tuesday, Tom Keefe, the DNR’s electronic licensing system
unit supervisor, said total deer hunting license sales stood at
about 422,000, up about 10,000 from last year at the same time. It
was about 10,000 under the 2002 total at that juncture of the
The number of management and intensive harvest permits purchased
had “skyrocketed,” Keefe said.
“The bigger news is we’ve already sold 178,724 intensive harvest
and management permits,” he said. Based on that number, and the
number of licenses sold, “we could reach well over 600,000 tags
available,” Keefe added. Last year, just over 100,000 management
and intensive harvest permits were sold.
Several registration locations in the state reported increases
in the number of deer registered. In the Mille Lacs area,
Conservation Officer Jeff Humphrey reported several locations in
Pine County either ran out of, or were running low on, registration
There were about 425,600 firearms deer hunting licenses sold
last year, including regular resident firearms licenses, multi-zone
licenses, and all-season deer licenses. Another 11,000 deer hunting
licenses were sold to nonresidents, and a few more were sold to
members of the military.
In previous years, the number of resident regular firearms,
all-season deer, and multi-zone buck licenses sold totaled 445,800
(2000) and 446,700 (2001).
3A license sales up
Keefe said license sales for the 3A season in southeast
Minnesota increased from 2002. ELS data showed about 16,670 regular
firearms and youth deer hunting licenses were sold during 3A this
year; 15,600 were sold last year.
Some of the deer season’s biggest changes were in Zone 3 this
year. The formerly bucks-only 3A season had a limited number of
antlerless permits available in 2003. Last year’s 3A season was
nine days; this year it was seven. And last year’s 3B was seven
days; this year it’s nine, Nov. 22-30.
Geoff Heppding, of Magnum Sports in Chatfield, said license
sales at the store indicated a similar number of 3A hunters, even
though the “feel” by hunters in the area was that there were fewer
in the field.
“We’ve got as many hunters (as past seasons),” he said. “But we
have less land access, and so you’ve got fewer people the large
groups of people pushing deer. People are more spread out so it
looks like fewer people.”
The number of licenses for the 3B season stood at about 14,000
on Tuesday. Keefe said he expected a sales push during the week to
bring that total closer to past years’ totals. Last year, just
under 20,000 3B licenses were sold; in 2002 that total was 22,600;
and in 2001 the total was about 23,500.
Conservation officers again were busy during the deer season.
Here’s a look at some of their encounters. (See Page 27 for
“Hunter rage” occurred in at least two areas this year, COs
In the Baudette area, CO Jeff Birchem was called to an incident
in which a fist fight was occurring between two hunters on a
wildlife management area. An investigation led to charges for
illegal operation of an all-terrain vehicle, use of permanent deer
stands on a WMA, and littering.
In the Brookston area, CO Mike Scott assisted the St. Louis
County Sheriff’s Department with a trespassing call that escalated
when one hunter pointed a gun at another hunter regarding trespass
on private property.
The most common violations during the firearms deer season
appear to be trespass and shooting from the roadway. CO reports
from every area indicated instances of those violations.
Furthermore, there are increasing calls to COs regarding deer
carcasses dumped anywhere from road ditches to private property, to
A moose was shot in the McGregor area by a man who mistook it
for a deer and shot the animal across the roadway, according to CO
reports. COs Bob Mlynar of Aitkin, and Brent Speldrich of McGregor
tracked the moose for over four hours without success. They’re
asking any hunters in the Lawler area who might find the moose to
call their office.
The hunter is facing numerous charges which could result in the
loss of hunting privileges for three years. Restitution for the
animal is $1,000.
CO Leland Owens, of Cambridge, investigated a “scarecrow,”
donning blaze orange, that was set up on a property line within 10
to 20 yards of two legal treestands. Owens reports the scarecrow
was heavily scented with perfume. Owens located the party
responsible for the scarecrow, and the person was warned for hunter