Moose hunt begins on Saturday

2007 elk-hunting parties go 3-for-3

By Tim
Spielman
Associate Editor

Grand Rapids, Minn. – Perhaps the best news for Minnesota moose
hunters whose hunt gets under way on Sept. 29 is temperatures are
expected to be much cooler than last weekend, making for a more
comfortable hunt – and reducing the chances of spoiled meat should
they successfully take a bull moose.

Mark Lenarz, head of the DNR’s forest wildlife population and
research group in Grand Rapids, estimates 30 to 40 percent of the
total moose harvest occurs during the opening weekend, even though
the hunt runs through Oct. 14 this year.

Lenarz said for the first time, the moose hunt in Minnesota will
be for bull only, because of another notable drop in the species’
population; the DNR counted 6,500 moose in northeastern Minnesota
this year, down from about 8,400 last year. There were 233 moose
licenses available this year, down from 279 in 2006.

A total of 2,851 hunting parties applied for the
once-in-a-lifetime hunt (6,139 individuals), which is about
average, Lenarz said.

‘(The number of applicants) has been fairly consistent between
the high 2,000s and low 3,000s,’ he said.

Lenarz said zone boundaries for this year were either completely
in or completely out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness –
10 of 30 were in the BWCAW. Motor restrictions are in place in the
Boundary Waters, including no motorized boats or ATVs.

It’s for that reason that fewer hunters apply to hunt within the
BWCAW, increasing the odds of receiving a tag if you apply for one
of those 10 zones.

Hunting within the BWCAW can be challenging, Lenarz said, with
some hunters having to haul their harvest across a number of
portages.

In fact, the labor involved in a recent hunt prompted one hunter
to tell Lenarz he was relieved it was a once-in-a-lifetime
hunt.

Lenarz said a fire earlier this year in the Ham Lake area along
the Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais won’t cause any changes to the
moose-hunting season. That fire occurred in May, and now the area
is covered with new plant life across the near 20,000-acre burned
area.

A year ago, the 32,000-acre Cavity Lake Fire occurred later in
the summer, making the area unsuitable for moose when the hunting
season rolled around. Hunters picked for Zone 63 were allowed to
forego buying a license and re-enter the drawing at a later date,
Lenarz said.

‘There was enough time between the fire and the hunting season
(this year) for a lot of green stuff to grow up,’ he said.

Once upon a time, a moose hunt occurred in the northwest portion
of the state; that hasn’t occurred since 1996, Lenarz said, due to
a tumbling population of the species.

Twenty years ago, there were 772 license available in the
northwest and 528 available in the northeast; the harvest in the
northwest was 727 moose, and in the northeast, the harvest was 436
moose. That year, there were 14,000 groups or duos that applied for
the chance to hunt moose.

This year, hunters who successfully harvest moose are asked to
submit blood and tissue samples from the animal to the DNR for
testing.

‘We’ll run the gamut of testing, to identify any disease or
parasites we didn’t know existed,’ Lenarz said.

Elk hunters batting 1.000

This year’s cow-only elk hunt in northwestern Minnesota got off
to a good start during the September season when three hunting
parties harvested three cows during the nine-day hunt, according to
Joel Huener, DNR assistant area wildlife manager of the Thief Lake
Wildlife Management Area in Middle River.

The second season, which also includes three hunting parties
seeking to harvest a cow elk, runs Dec. 1-9.

‘This was the first time we had a cow season in September,’
Huener said. The herd size is an estimated 55 animals.

Last year, bull elk-hunting parties went 2-for-2 in
September.

But bull elk mortality around Grygla in northwestern Minnesota
prompted DNR officials to put a temporary end to bull hunting. The
DNR reported the deaths of six bull during 2006.

‘Two were legally taken during the 2006 (hunting) season, one
was taken mistakenly by during the antlerless (deer) season, one
died presumably of brain worm, and the remaining two were found
dead from unknown causes,’ according to a Minnesota DNR press
statement.

Last year, hunters harvested four cow elk in the state, in
addition to the two bulls.

Huener said between 600 and 700 hunting parties applied for the
six elk permits this year.

Categories: Hunting News

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