Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Deer wanton waste gets COs’ attention

Tower, Minn. – The actions of hunters sometimes bewilder the
state’s conservation officers. Case in point: CO Dan Starr, of
Tower, on Monday checked a group of hunters in northern Minnesota
who’d harvested three bucks. In his report this week, Starr
referred to “a very disturbing investigation” in which “three nice
bucks were thrown away after the antlers were cut off.”

“It was sickening to me,” Starr said Monday.

As it turned out, group members told him they’d shot the deer on
Saturday, gutted the deer, tagged and registered them, then put
them on the ground at camp. Instead of processing them on Saturday
(second weekend of deer hunting), they waited till Sunday. As they
began the process, they said the deer “smelled funny,” according to

“There was nothing wrong with those deer,” he said.

Some group members, Starr said, argued that the deer were OK to
process, but were overruled by other members – that was learned
during the interview, he said.

The CO ordered members of the group to attempt to salvage the
venison from the animals, or face restitution charges of $500 per

Starr said overnight temperatures had been dipping below
freezing, and that the meat would be OK.

“I archery elk hunt and it’s 80 degrees in the mountains,” he
said. “(If the animal is processed correctly), it’s good for

Starr said group members had been distracted by other camp
activities and didn’t give proper attention to their harvest.

“It’s just laziness,” he said.

One of the hunters was cited for a tagging violation.

The potential waste of venison isn’t a frequent occurrence,
Starr said. “For the most part, people use their venison.”

In the metro area, another CO was seeking information about
litter and wanton waste of deer.

CO Thor Nelson, of Bloomington, located nine deer carcasses that
were partially butchered and dumped on the Minnesota Valley
National Wildlife Refuge Wilkie Unit near the Rice Lake public
access under Hwy. 169.

“That’s as big as I’ve ever seen,” Nelson said this week,
regarding the deer carcasses stacked in the refuge along the
highway. “It’s really sickening.”

Nelson said it appears whomever began processing the deer lost
interest along the way.

“They started out well,” he said, adding that the butchering was
quite thorough on at least a couple whitetails. But gradually the
quality of processing diminished, from partial butchering to just
the tenderloins removed, to no butchering at all.

“It just looked like a case of laziness,” he said.

Nelson said the hunters likely were coming from an “intensive”
harvest unit in northern Minnesota.

“It’s depressing, especially when the state has put together
this (venison) donation program (in which venison is provided for
state food shelves),” he said. For more information about that
program, visit

Anyone with information regarding this deer-dumping incident is
asked to call the TIP line at (800) 652-9093.

‘Imposter’ drops?

CO Starr said several blaze orange-colored “drop boxes” have
shown up in the area. Many hunters, he suspects, might mistake
these unlabeled boxes as drops for the Minnesota Deer Hunters
Association’s Hides for Habitat boxes.

“We call them ‘imposter’ boxes,” said Mark Johnson, executive
director for MDHA. “If they don’t say Hides of Habitat or MDHA on
them, they’re not ours.

“It’s something that’s a challenge for us across the state,” he

At some locations, Johnson said, individuals place the boxes
right next to MDHA boxes, hoping that hide donors mistake the
imposter for an MDHA “overflow” drop box.

Since the Hides for Habitat program’s inception in 1985, the
organization has collected more than 700,000 hides and raised more
than $3.5 million. The funds are used for wildlife management area
purchase, habitat restoration projects, and education, including
the state’s Archery in the Schools program. As the top contributor
to the school archery program, the MDHA puts up about $17,000 each
year, Johnson said.

Also, the group each year hosts a “Forkhorn Camp” for

On average, about 35,000 deer hides are collected each year.

Etc. from CO reports

€ CO Randy Hanzal, of Duluth, reported several deer are being
shot from the roadway by poachers sometimes leaving them to rot,
because the poachers are scared off by concerned citizens or other
hunters “disgusted with this type of activity.”

€ CO Chad Sherack, of Pequot Lakes, said the new uncased gun law
(in motor vehicles; allowable in some instances) has resulted in
“running and gunning” by hunters, “resulting in Officer Sherack
encountering many gun muzzles upon approach.”

Ethics, Sherack reported “went out the window,” as people
operated their vehicles through the forest with loaded, uncased

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