Bonus permit sales decline a bit in ’04

DNR expecting decrease of about

10 percent in firearms deer harvest

By Tim Spielman

Associate Editor

St. Paul For the past few years, the sale of antlerless-only
“bonus” permits (which became known as such just this year) have
steadily increased as the state’s deer herd did the same.

This year, with a deer herd estimated to be about 1.2 million
entering the hunting seasons, hunters have bought about 180,000
bonus permits, primarily in areas where the deer count is
considered too high for the available habitat, or conflict with
humans is considered too frequent.

Last year, a total of about 191,000 management and intensive
harvest permits (both now are considered bonus permits) were sold.
However, as recently as 2001, a mere 32,000 “bonus” antlerless
permits were sold.

Steve Michaels, DNR Game and Fish Division Licensing supervisor,
said muzzleloader and/or archery hunters still may purchase bonus
permits where available, if they qualify. The muzzleloader season
runs through Dec. 12 (it began Nov. 27) and the archery season runs
through Dec. 31.

While additional permits to harvest deer resulted in a record
total harvest last year, Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game specialist,
said information from the Electronic Licensing System and from DNR
field managers indicates the harvest would be down about 10 percent
this year. Last year’s record harvest was about 253,000 deer during
the firearms season. That total was high enough to surpass the
previous record of all hunting methods 243,000 in 1992.

“We may be down 8 to 10 percent, but last year was a record
year,” Cornicelli said.

Bonus permits this year replaced “management” and “intensive
harvest” permits from last year. The bonus permits were available
this year in managed deer permits areas and intensive deer permit
areas.

In managed DPAs (there were 46 in the state this season),
licensed hunters could shoot a deer of either sex and also could
purchase one bonus permit. In intensive DPAs (there were 74 in the
state this year), hunters could take a deer of either sex, and
purchase up to four bonus permits to harvest additional deer.

Bonus permits cost resident hunters $13 per permit; nonresidents
had to pay $67.50 for each additional permit.

Those hunting in lottery DPAs (there were 44 this year) had to
apply for and receive an either-sex permit in order to harvest an
antlerless deer.

For the gun deer hunting season, there were four types of
licenses available. Michaels said about 437,600 had been sold,
nearly identical to last year’s total.

Regular gun deer license sales (308,220) were down from last
year’s 339,326 total. Resident youth licenses (51,245) were up from
last year’s 34,438 total. Also up were sales of all-season licenses
(45,863 vs. 30,654 in 2003). Multi-zone buck license sales took a
small dip (32,371 vs. 32,785 in 2003).

No extended season

Contrary to what’s been swirling in some Minnesota circles, the
DNR is not considering an extended gun deer hunting season this
year.

“I don’t know where (hunters) heard that,” said Lou Cornicelli,
DNR big game specialist.

Stuart Benson, Minnesota conservation officer in the Erskine
area, said he received “numerous calls on the rumor of an extended
firearms deer season.”

Cornicelli said once final kill tallies are known, the
department likely will be satisfied with the level of deer harvest
in Minnesota.

Muzzleloader questions

Several COs in Minnesota said there’s been hunter confusion
regarding licensing for muzzleloader hunting.

According to Cornicelli, if you didn’t buy a regular firearms
license, you may purchase a muzzleloader license to hunt deer, then
buy bonus permits if they’re available in your area.

However, if you’re just buying a license, do it soon. There’s a
two-day waiting period before your muzzleloader license is valid,
and the season closes Dec. 12.

If you purchased an all-season license, however, you may hunt
the regular gun season, the muzzleloader season, and the archery
season, if you have valid permits yet unused. Muzzleloader hunters
may harvest a deer of either sex.

Joe Albert contributed to

this story

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