District 1 – Baudette area
CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) worked with COC Leeb during the firearms deer-hunting opening weekend. Temperatures were low and success was moderate. Enforcement action was taken for trespass, transporting a loaded firearm, untagged deer, allowing a juvenile to commit a game violation, failing to register deer, taking deer without valid license, and failing to validate a site tag.
CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck) reports time was spent investigating a TIP call about an 8-point buck that had been shot while shining and taken out of season. All of the individuals involved have been identified and interviewed, and charges are pending.
CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette) reports working a busy rifle deer opener. Various hunters were checked during the course of the weekend, with the vast majority being in compliance. The most common violations encountered, which resulted in enforcement action, were hunting deer with the aid of bait, transporting loaded firearms, and operating unregistered ATVs.
District 2 – Bemidji area
CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports taking several calls leading up to this deer season. CO Vinton also took a TIP call the day before the season opened regarding a person who’d shot a deer and was dragging it to his garage. CO Vinton contacted CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes), who was near the area, and CO Swedberg was able to make contact with the suspect before he was able to hide the deer. The shooter admitted to shooting the deer, over bait, from his upstairs bedroom window.
CO Al Peterson (Osage) handled baiting, trespass, and tagging/registration violations. One rifle was seized as evidence and possible forfeiture.
CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) reports a deer hunter mistook an elk for a whitetail and attempted to take the ungulate. Fortunately for the elk, the hunter’s aim was as bad as his species identification. Charges are pending.
CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week working firearms deer hunters in the Pelican Rapids station. CO Landmark received calls from the public regarding people sighting-in guns within five days of the firearms season, trespassing, and a suspicious dead buck. Landmark and CO Swedberg investigated the incident and were able to determine the big buck was the loser of a fight with another buck.
District 3 – Fergus Falls area
CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking small-game hunters and deer hunters. CO Baumbarger investigated complaints regarding lend/borrow of deer tags, trespass, and property damage where a hunter found a bullet hole in the side of his truck.
CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) worked with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office on hunter harassment reports. Additional time was spent checking pheasant and goose hunters.
CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) and COC Hanna Wood spent the week preparing for the firearms deer season by checking locations for bait, monitoring shining activity, and taking several phone calls from the public regarding the season.
CO Brian Holt (Osakis) responded to and assisted the Todd County Sheriff’s Office with a deer-hunting accident in which a person was shot in the leg by another member of his hunting party.
CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) focused his enforcement efforts on the firearms deer season. Several complaints were received and investigated, including trespass and hunting over bait. Goose numbers have improved and there are still some hunting opportunities in the area.
District 4 – Walker area
CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked deer hunters. The success rate appeared to be around 25% for groups checked. Complaints about road hunting, shining, hunters in a refuge, baiting, and trespassing were investigated.
CO Randy Posner (Staples) reports that he worked on deer-hunting enforcement this past weekend. Hunters had mixed success. Some of the complaints included hunting over bait, shooting from a road, untagged deer, and litter. Complaints about vehicles on closed trails in the Pillsbury forest were investigated. Campers in the forest were warned for unattended fires, alcohol at a state campground, and litter.
District 5 – Eveleth area
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports that a lack of respect for property owners is a common complaint heard during the deer hunt. Whitefish netters are still searching for open-water access points to set and tend nets. A couple groups were encountered this past week tent camping. One man said his wife told him not to come home if he didn’t bring any whitefish with him. ATV regulations are still in effect during the firearms deer season and include additional restrictions.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) encountered more hunters attempting to take deer over bait than usual. CO Zavodnik and Capt. Patten witnessed an individual who stated that he was watching his land for trespassers but later admitted to hunting deer. Further investigation revealed the hunter was hunting over bait and had not purchased a deer license. The CO also responded to a call early in the morning involving a near-hypothermic individual whose vehicle went off the road and into water. After ensuring that the driver was clear of any injuries, Zavodnik sensed there may have been more factors involving the vehicle going off the road. The driver was found to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) tracked a suspect through three miles of alder swamp, woods, and cattail marsh and arrested the suspect who fled on foot from the Hibbing police. The suspect had bailed out of his car after fleeing in a motor vehicle. He had a revoked driver’s license and a number of arrest warrants. Another assist regarding a hit and run report resulted in a domestic assault arrest.
District 6 – Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports snow and cold weather seemed to aid hunters during the opening weekend of the regular firearms seasons. Success was limited, but most hunters the CO spoke to reported seeing a good amount of fresh deer sign and at least fleeting glimpses of deer.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking deer hunters during the opening weekend. The officer also responded to complaints and followed up on bait cases.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) and CO Hill contacted one group on opening morning of the firearms deer season and relieved them of some apples and firearms before sending them off with some paperwork for the violations.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports checking multiple hunters during opening weekend of the firearms deer season. The weather was cold and hunters were not as successful as they would have liked. Hill did notice, however, that the majority of the hunters who he spoke with who’d harvested deer were successful during late morning/early afternoon. It pays to stay in the stand while others go in for coffee. A trio of hunters were cited for hunting with the aid of bait after they scattered leftover apples near their stand location.
District 7 – Grand Rapids area
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) checked deer hunters, worked ATVing activity, and checked small-game hunting activity. Numerous hunting-related questions were answered. He also patrolled state parks and campgrounds and assisted the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked baiting complaints, checked hunters, monitored OHVing activity, and assisted the State Patrol with a motor vehicle accident.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked a busy firearms deer opener with mixed success throughout the area. Several cases were opened and will require further investigation as the season goes on.
District 8 – Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) reports TIP calls were fielded, with many not about deer hunting despite that being the most prominent activity. Enforcement action was taken for hunting with the aid of bait, transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, operating an ATV outside of permitted hours, operating an ATV without headlights on, and no license in possession.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth) reports deer-baiting issues were handled and violations encountered were for operating ATVs during closed hours, loaded firearms, and licensing issues. Calls regarding trespass, posting the property of another, hunter harassment, and stand tampering were handled. The officer also worked shining details with district officers.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) followed up on deer-baiting complaints and worked shining activity much of the week. The officer checked many hunters during the weekend and dealt with parties hunting over bait.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) assisted CO Speldrich in Pine County with deer-baiting violations. Several checks of hunters resulted in violations for no license in possession, failing to validate licenses, and untagged deer. Calls and complaints about shooting from the road, deer baiting, and trespass were investigated.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) issued permits for car-killed deer and bears during the past week. Time also was spent preparing and working complaint areas during the firearms deer season opener.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked on Lake Superior commercial enforcement during the week. Olson also worked with fellow district officers in checking complaints about baits prior to the opening of the deer season, dealt with illegal bough cutting with the assistance of the Duluth Police Department and St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked deer hunters and a couple early ice anglers. Bitter cold enabled one and hindered the other, though plenty of deer were seen moving in spots. Complaints about baiting and trespassing were received.
District 9 – Brainerd area
CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked big-game hunting enforcement during the opening weekend of the firearms deer season. Cases of illegal lend/borrow licenses were investigated. Officer Guida also seized equipment used to take big game with the aid of bait. The penalties upon conviction include increased fines and revocation of hunting privileges.
CO Eric Sullivan (Pequot Lakes) assisted the Cass County Sheriff’s Office in locating a lost hunter who was found to be in possession of controlled substances and taken into custody.
CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) reports focusing on the firearms deer season opener and related activities. Numerous hunters were checked during the weekend, and numerous calls and issues were handled. Several reports about illegal deer baiting and feeding were looked into, and illegal deer shining activity was worked, with numerous enforcement contacts made for hunting over bait and deer shining.
CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked firearms deer hunting, trespassing, and property line disputes. Time also was spent on the radio with the DNR area wildlife manager and two funerals were attended with the DNR Honor Guard.
CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) worked the deer opener and responded to calls about baiting, trespassing, and other violations.
CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) and COC Mikeena Mattson worked nuisance animal and wetlands enforcement, deer baiting, big-game hunting, and trapping activity. Multiple baiting complaints were investigated, and enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, untagged deer, failure to validate deer tags, and violating the feeding and attractants ban.
District 10 – Mille Lacs area
CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) worked the deer opener, including illegal stands, baited areas, and hanging deer without tags. Illegal fishing and unoccupied boats were reported on Lake Mille Lacs. Both cases turned out to be waterfowl hunters make use of layout boats.
CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) spent the firearms deer opener taking enforcement action for hunting deer over baited areas. Other violations included improper validation of deer tags, no license in possession, and operating ATVs during closed hours. Several trespassing disputes and questions were handled, as were complaints regarding putting stands too close to property lines. COs Speldrich and Humphrey stopped to verify that the tags were on four deer that were hanging at a deer camp. One deer was a 110-pound dressed adult with white spots throughout its coat. A hunter in the party was disappointed that the COs wanted a photo of the spotted deer and not his huge buck.
CO Dan Starr (Onamia) reports a case of shooting from roadway, onto posted land, and directly in the direction of a legal hunter left area residents concerned.
CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) checked hunters during the firearms deer season opener and caught quite a few individuals hunting deer over bait. Everything from battery-powered corn feeders to feed blocks to molasses to heaps of shelled corn were found near occupied deer stands. One hunter was found set up next to a motorized feeder that was flinging corn around the woods, and under the feeder was an additional few gallons of corn that had been dumped on top of a feed block.
District 11 – St. Cloud area
CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week following up on a bear-hunting investigation. The firearms deer season opener was worked, and many hunters were seen afield looking to take a deer. A TIP report regarding a lend/borrow of a deer license was investigated with enforcement action being taken and a sizable buck being seized.
CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports having a busy deer opener. Enforcement action was taken for untagged deer, transporting loaded firearms, no ATV registration, and hunting over a baited area.
District 12 – Princeton area
CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) worked the firearms deer-hunting opener and reports seeing a lot of happy hunters who harvested deer in the area, and some not-so-happy hunters who were caught hunting over bait. COs Londgren and Weyandt responded to a call about someone going through the ice on a local lake. The angler was able to get out of the water and back to shore, shaken up and cold, but lucky to be alive. Area lakes are not safe at this time and anglers are advised to stay off the ice.
CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) worked a busy opening weekend of the deer season. Numerous TIPs and neighbor disputes were investigated.
CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) reports enforcement action was taken for leaving deer stands out overnight on WPAs, hunting in a game refuge, hunting over bait, untagged deer, failure to validate a site tag, not wearing blaze orange, and trespass.
CO Nathan Benkofske (Milaca) reports that during a stop, a subject fled, resulting in a vehicle chase on a road and through an agricultural field.
District 13 – West Metro area
CO Tim Maass (Osseo) continued to check waterfowl hunters on area lakes and rivers. Maass also spent time up in the Brookston station for the firearms deer opener.
CO Mike Lerchen (Bloomington) spent time working the firearms deer season. Enforcement action was taken for failing to tag a big-game animal, hunting with the aid of bait, and transporting a loaded firearm.
CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Mound) checked deer hunters and followed up on complaints during the weekend. He also followed up on a report of a vehicle possibly stuck on federal property.
CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) reports a rather slow deer opener in regards to harvested deer. A TIP call was received from a party that observed another hunter shoot at a deer running across a field. In the heat of the moment, the hunter fired into a telephone pole and knocked out power to all the homes along that road. The hunter was located and charges are pending.
District 14 – East Metro area
CO Tony Salzer (Ham Lake) and COC Calie Kunst spent time working big-game hunting enforcement prior to firearms opener. Many violations were found, including lend and borrow of a license and hunting without a valid license.
CO Chris Tetrault (Maplewood) continued field training with COC Wiltrout. The two traveled to Pierz station to assist other COs. COC Wiltrout was able to experience a wide variety of calls for service and check deer hunters.
District 15 – Marshall area
CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week working deer and pheasant hunters. The firearms deer season opened with a great number of hunters afield. Corn harvest is slowly progressing.
CO Andrew Dirks (Worthington) spent time working the firearms deer opener. Hunters were having decent success. Various complaints were investigated, and enforcement action was taken for license and tagging violations and transporting loaded firearms.
District 16 – New Ulm area
CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the majority of the week preparing for the firearms deer season. During the opening weekend of the firearms deer season, CO Klehr dealt with feeding and baiting issues.
CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) is investigating the dumping of four butchered deer carcasses into the Minnesota River at the Riverside Park public water access in the city of New Ulm. Any information concerning this violation would be greatly appreciated.
CO Dustin Miller (Windom) reports that a deer that was poached while it was walking on the ice was retrieved with the assistance of a group of helpful deer hunters. Investigations regarding the use of drones while deer hunting and use of rifles to take deer in a shotgun zone are ongoing.
District 17 – Mankato area
CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) worked deer hunting this week. CO Henke also checked a few snowmobilers in ditches after the first significant snowfall of the season.
CO Tony Flerlage (Spring Valley) worked the deer opener. Questions about CWD testing were answered.
CO Chad Davis (Owatonna) reports a deer hunter checked had his 5-year-old son with him in the field for the first time. The hunter explained to his young son, “The game warden is like the police, only cooler.”
District 18 – Rochester area
CO Tom Hemker (Winona) investigated several complaints about trespass, shooting from the road, late hunting, and hunter harassment.
CO Boyum (Rushford) reports a hunter stated he climbed into his stand, excited for opening day. He looked down to load his gun and noticed the trigger lock that was on his shotgun. Unfortunately for him, opening morning was spent driving home to remove the lock.
CO Tyler Ramaker (La Crescent) reports a credible TIP report led to an investigation of a hunter who shot an antlerless deer with a crossbow from a roadway and on private land without permission. During the 3A season, enforcement action was taken for taking an overlimit of deer, failure to validate deer tags, transporting loaded firearms in a motor vehicle and operating ATVs with expired registration.