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

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Firearms deer hunt may top last year

St. Paul — Firearms deer hunters after opening weekend are on
track to kill as many or more deer than they did last year.

Registration for Saturday and Sunday this year and last was 85,000
deer, but this year’s totals will tick upward as people break deer
camp or for other reasons register their animals days after they
shot them.

“It isn’t a record, but we didn’t expect that it would be,” said
Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “But I think it’s
going to be one of the better opening days in the last few
years.”

The weather was generally good on opening weekend, though hunters
contended with wind on Saturday, and higher than average
temperatures (those allowed hunters to spend more time in their
stands, though).

But the corn was mostly out of the fields and hunters reported the
bucks were on the move.

Around the Slayton area in the southwest, “deer season opened with
dry, mild conditions,” CO Jim Robinson reported. “Deer hunter
numbers were high and most were having good success with the buck
harvest. Doe permit holders did not seem to share the same
luck.”

Reports from the northern part of the state were similar.

“The weather was warm and possibly played a fairly large role in
the number of deer that were shot in the area, though some parties
found better success,” CO Sarah Sindelir reported.

Cornicelli himself worked a deer check station in Roseau County and
said hunters there had good success.

“I’ve been working out there every year since 2005, and in terms of
antlered male sizes, this is the best I’ve seen in the six years
I’ve worked opening weekend,” he said.

More than half of successful hunters took advantage of a new system
that allows them to register their deer on the Internet or via the
phone. About 29 percent of people registered deer on the Internet,
and about 25 percent used their telephones.

Spring turkey hunters this year were the first to try the new
registration system.

“I’ve heard very few issues with it,” said Maj. Rod Smith,
operations manager for the DNR Enforcement Division.

Results indicate that hunters are being truthful about what they
killed, Cornicelli said. Of the deer registered on the Internet and
phone, 54 percent were bucks. Fifty-seven percent of the deer
registered at walk-in stations were bucks, he said.

“Maybe (that’s because) people wanted to show off their buck,”
Cornicelli said.

CO reports

Opening-weekend reports from conservation officers around the state
follow:

• Success was fair in the Warroad and Baudette areas; average in
the Thief River Falls area; spotty in the Blackduck area; and
average in the Erskine area, where some nice bucks were
killed.

• Hunters reported seeing fewer deer than usual in the Bemidji
area. Harvest also seemed to be down.

• Hunters saw good numbers of deer in the Moorhead area, and the
harvest seemed to be up.

• Hunter success was fair in the Pelican Rapids area and good in
the Henning and Park Rapids areas.

• Hunters saw a lot of deer in the Osakis area, and harvested good
numbers of antlerless deer.

• Hunters saw deer – and killed a normal amount – in the Glenwood
area, though deer weren’t moving much. The kill was below average
in the Morris area.

• Hunters killed lots of deer in the Duluth area and a fair number
in the Brainerd area.

• Hunters in the Isle area had “so-so” success and about the same
success was last year in the Wealthwood area.

• Hunters saw many deer in the Center City area, but killed fewer
than expected. They had some success in the White Bear Lake
area.

• A lot of nice deer were taken in the Marshall area. Hunters saw
fewer deer than expected in the Benson area.

• Hunters had success in Jackson County.

• Mankato-area hunters took some deer, especially around  rivers
and wildlife management areas.

Violations

Conservation officers dealt with many of the typical deer
hunting-related issues opening weekend, including trespassing and
baiting. Baiting cases seem to be about on part with last year,
Smith said.

But more people – hunters and retailers alike – are calling to ask
what’s considered bait and what isn’t. Smith’s answer: Check the
list of ingredients. If every ingredient on the list is a liquid
scent, salt, or mineral, then it is not considered bait.

Hunters seem to be aware that baiting is against the law, and in
baiting cases, “our general practice is to seize the firearm,”
Smith said.

That’s what CO Matt Frericks, who patrols the Virginia area, did
this weekend. Here’s his report: “Numerous hunters received
citations for hunting over bait. Each of the hunters’ firearms was
seized. One of the hunters who received a citation for hunting over
bait had previously received a citation from CO Frericks for the
same offense in 2007. Upon conviction, the hunter’s big-game
hunting privileges will be revoked for three years.”

And here’s one more violation, this one from CO Mark Fredin, who
patrols the Aurora area: “The award for most unethical activity
goes to a man who was with his two kids stopped on a road and had
his 15-year-old daughter take three shots from the road at a group
of deer in a hay field while the landowner watched from his
stand.”

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