APR meetings come to SE Minnesota

Cannon Falls, Minn. — The DNR this week held two public meetings in the southeastern part of the state as it works toward determining whether it will ask the Legislature for permission to continue antler-point restriction regulations that have been in place in Zone 3 since 2010.

Between 60 and 70 people attended the first meeting, held Monday in Cannon Falls. The second meeting was set for Wednesday in Winona.

The meeting was similar to ones held before the antler-point restrictions went into place, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. Some people supported continuing the APRs, which requires adult hunters to pass on bucks unless they have at least four antler points on one side. Others wanted them to go away.

“There was definitely a contingency of both camps there,” Cornicelli said.

The meeting was tame, he said, and “there was no arguing or anything like that.”

Marty Stubstad, owner of Archery Headquarters in Rochester and one of those who made the trip to Cannon Falls High School, called the spirit of the meeting “Minnesota nice.”

Of the several points of discussion, Stubstad, an APR supporter, said one of the more important points was that antler-point restrictions for the southeast was a quick decision, or one entered lightly. “There hasn’t been a rock not overturned” regarding the APR process, he said.

Antler-point restrictions have had help in improving deer hunting, according to Stubstad. He also credits the elimination of cross-tagging, and a reduction in the amount of shining (and greater enforcement) for a better deer herd.

Stubstad, a board of directors member for the Bluffland Whitetails Association, said he’s watched as southeast hunters – those who visit his shop – gradually become more accepting of APRs. Larger whitetail racks no doubt are one reason, though he said a misconception about APR is that it’s a “horn-hunter thing.” Rather, he believes, the rules improve herd health and quality.

Stubstad also believes antler-point restrictions result in a safer hunting environment, as hunters are more cautious about what they’re shooting at.

Meeting attendees in Cannon Falls filled out a survey similar to one sent out to 4,000 people who hunt deer during the 3A and 3B seasons. Preliminary results of the mailed surveys show support for antler-point restrictions has increased.

Overall support for continuing the regulations was 61 percent. Of the 3A hunters surveyed, 68 percent supported continuing the regulations. Among 3B hunters, support was at 56 percent.

Anyone who missed the public meetings but wants to fill out the same survey as attendees filled out can do so beginning Thursday by logging on to here.

In addition to the survey, people also will be able to see the presentation Cornicelli gave at both input meetings.

“Folks who miss the meetings – it’s all right there,” he said.

Cornicelli figures the survey will be available for about three weeks. After that, the DNR will use the collected data and determine whether it will seek legislative approval for extending the antler-point restrictions.
— Associate Editor Tim Spielman contributed to this report.

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