Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Hunt looks unlikely for early BWCA deer

Tower, Minn. – It could be the end of the road for a proposal to
allow an early season for deer in the Boundary Waters.

The DNR took public comment on the idea at three meetings last
week, and has solicited hunters’ opinions online. While a final
decision won’t be made until later this spring, officials say the
new hunt is unlikely this year.

“My sense is, just based on the input we got from the public at
the three meetings we held in the northeast and some of the emails
we received, there isn’t much support for going ahead with an early
Boundary Waters hunt,” said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife
manager in Grand Rapids. “I would be surprised if this is going to
go anywhere.”

The agency proposed a nine-day season beginning this fall – Oct.
24 through Nov. 1 – for a portion of Deer Permit Area 115 north and
west of Tower. The hunt, which would take place in a
535-square-mile area, would be limited to 150 hunters.

DNR officials say they want to provide hunters with a unique
deer-hunting opportunity that’s similar to what moose hunters in
the state have.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association first offered the idea of
the hunt. While the group as a whole supported the concept, the
local Ely-Vermilion chapter opposed it.

The majority of people who attended meetings last week in
Duluth, Grand Rapids, and Tower spoke against the idea.

“We’ve certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest with this,” said
Rich Staffon, DNR area wildlife manager in Cloquet. He attended the
meeting in Duluth. “I think we got a lot more negative comments
than we anticipated.”

The intent was to expand deer-hunting opportunities, according
to Joe Cannella, development director for MDHA.

One of the main concerns of the people opposed to the hunt was
that early season hunters would be targeting the same areas those
people traditionally hunt during the firearms season that begins
just days later.

Generally, those people hunt on the periphery of the area that
would be open during the early season – it was intended hunters
during the early season would paddle canoes back into the
wilderness – but Cannella said the concern is justified.

“Even though the intent was to open up an area beyond the
periphery, they are correct in stating that we really don’t know
where these 150 people will go,” he said. “It was heard loud and
clear there are a significant number of folks who hunt on the
peripheral edge, and the designed plan would not guarantee those
people wouldn’t be double-gunned.

“Because of good reasons like that, it’s probably a dead issue,”
Cannella said.

Another concern some hunters had was that the deer population in
the area is low enough and scattered enough that it can’t withstand
additional pressure, Lightfoot said.

“It’s an area that, in all honesty, is lightly hunted right
now,” he said. “But the people that are there have very strong
feelings about that area and the high-quality hunt they are
currently experiencing in November.”

The additional pressure such a hunt would create was a primary
argument of those at the Duluth meeting who opposed the early
season, Staffon said.

Because there are few access points, some hunters were concerned
most of the pressure would be directed to those places, he

“They thought having a hunt in late October when the bucks are
just getting into their rutting activity would make the bucks more
vulnerable,” Staffon said.

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