Crow Wing bans permanent stands
By Joe Albert
Brainerd, Minn. – Crow Wing County had enough of waiting for
state regulation of permanent deer stands. So it passed its own
As of Aug. 1, construction and use of permanent deer stands is
outlawed on its 103,00 acres of county lands. Crow Wing is the
second county to address permanent stands; Cass County bans damage
to trees because of permanent stands, but doesn’t expressly
“We’ve been talking about it for so long, but the response has
always been, ‘Well, we really can’t do anything until this is a
statewide initiative,'” said Thomas Cowell, Crow Wing County land
commissioner. “We’re not going to wait any longer. Hopefully,
others will follow suit.”
Crow Wing County passed the resolution in 2003. The upcoming big
game season, which begins with the Sept. 1 bear opener, is the
first to be affected.
Portable deer stands still are allowed under the ordinance. And
they can be placed and left in trees from one week before the big
game season to one day after the season closes.
The ordinance also allows the removal of lateral branches less
than an inch in diameter. Screw-in steps and anchor bolts are
allowed for use with portable stands if they’re removed when the
stand is removed.
Since the resolution passed in 2003, county officials have been
trying to spread the word on the change.
Stands currently in trees are being tagged with orange cards to
inform hunters of the law, Cowell said.
“We’re not out there to be pinching people left and right,” he
said. “This is going to evolve over a period of time.”
In making the change, Crow Wing County is aligning itself with
Chippewa and Superior national forests, which don’t allow permanent
stands. But they’re still allowed on state and most county
There is an interest among counties to have more consistent
rules, said Tom Baumann, forest management supervisor for the DNR,
who’s been involved in meetings with stakeholder groups to talk
about regulation changes.
“There is a sense that, some of them anyway, would like to
mirror the Cass or Crow Wing rules as time goes on,” Baumann
At the state level, substantive change hasn’t gone beyond the
discussion phase, but smaller tweaking has occurred.
A bill passed this year stated that a permanent stand on public
land is public, and not the property of the person who built it.
The DNR always operated under the assumption that was the case; the
law change clarified it in statute, said Ed Boggess, Fish and
Wildlife Policy Section chief.
The tendency of hunters to move on from areas with permanent
stands was one of the reasons for the Crow Wing County change,
“You are reserving your area; you’re tending to pre-empt public
use,” Cowell said. “If you go out scouting and see a stand,
obviously you are not going to put a stand right next to it.”