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

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Alternative regs in 2010 possible for deer hunters

St. Paul – While most reports indicate confusion was common
among deer hunters during the final two days of the 3A deer season,
it’s still likely hunters could see alternative regulations as
early as next year.

Lawmakers implemented this year’s regulations – a move, they
said, that would provide a good opportunity to see what effects
they would have on the deer population.

The DNR, meanwhile, is in the fifth year of a five-year study to
look at the effect of alternative regulations like earn-a-buck and
antler-point restrictions on deer populations. This year’s reg
changes were not part of that project.

The changes that lawmakers made – they were in effect this year
only – blended earn-a-buck and antler-point restrictions and,
according to DNR Enforcement officials, resulted in hundreds of
calls from hunters seeking some clarification or explanation of the
law.

“While the regulation was well-intentioned, it was confusing to
many hunters,” said Marrett Grund, the DNR deer researcher in
Madelia who is working on the alternative regulations project. “I
think we can implement these regulations in a better way that is
less confusing to hunters.”

State conservation officers who worked the final two days of the
3A season noted a lack of hunters, said Maj. Rod Smith, DNR
Enforcement operations manager.

Officers didn’t receive any complaints and didn’t come across
any hunters in violation of the law, he said. That’s despite
widespread confusion before – and during – the season.

“Our officers and office staff received literally hundreds of
calls for clarification for those last two days,” Smith said.

If alternative regulations are implemented on a wide scale,
educating hunters about the changes will be key, he said.

“Once people understand how it works and everything, it will be
easier to work through,” Smith said. “A big part of earn-a-buck or
antler-point restrictions is for people to understand the law and
what they can and cannot do. We have had some earn-a-buck and
antler-point restrictions in the state, but they have been
geographically isolated (in state parks, and the people hunting
them know about the regulations before they hunt there).

“This year’s second weekend of 3A was a little different and I
think there was a lot of confusion out there,” Smith said.

Grund said using regulations like earn-a-buck and antler-point
restrictions are social issues at this point, and that the DNR
would begin discussing their possible implementation.

“I do see us moving forward with these regulations, but I don’t
see us pushing them down hunters’ throats,” he said. “We’ll be
beginning to talk with hunters about how and where we will be
implementing innovative regulations like antler-point restrictions
in Minnesota in the future.”

The research to this point has shown that earn-a-buck and
antler-point restrictions reduce buck harvest by about 35
percent.

“The problem with earn-a-buck is that we continually are putting
pressure on the doe harvest, so that means our population will
continue to decline,” Grund said. “Where we are at today – where
most of our deer populations are at goal level – earn-a-buck
regulations may not be an appropriate regulation to use.”

Antler-point restrictions, though, can be used in areas “where
our deer population is at the goal level, but we also want to alter
that age structure of the bucks in the population,” he said.

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