Minnesota Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – November 12, 2021

District 1 – Baudette area

CO Corey Sura (Baudette) spent the weekend working the firearms deer season. Although the weather was excellent, hunting success was relatively low. However, this was not the case for the fishing on Lake of the Woods. Sura decided to take a break from deer-hunting action to check a few anglers. In doing so, he contacted a group of four anglers who were found to be 48 walleyes/sauger over their possession limit. The individuals will be charged for possessing overlimits of walleyes/sauger, along with restitution for the 48 fish. 

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls) worked a busy firearms deer season opener. Warm weather limited deer movement, but some hunters found success this weekend. Trespassing and hunter harassment complaints were handled. 

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck) reports a busy firearms opener. Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, allowing a juvenile to hunt illegally, and transporting a loaded firearm. Numerous trespass calls were fielded. 

District 2 – Bemidji area

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) handled the usual firearms deer season complaints, including shooting from the road, wanton waste, and trespass.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports patrolling the Perham station for trapping activity, waterfowl hunting, and area WMAs for early stands placed before the beginning for the state’s firearms deer-hunting season. TIPs were investigated for trespassing and possible deer-shining activity. CO Vinton addressed the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association meeting in New York Mills. 

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working small game, ATVing, and waterfowling enforcement. Time also was spent working the firearms deer hunting opener. Hunter participation appeared to be good. 

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked with a wildlife manager, investigating nuisance bears that were taken by a landowner due to depredation issues. Assistance was provided to the State Patrol with securing a perimeter after an individual fled on foot. 

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring deer-hunting activity. ATV operators are reminded that it is illegal to operate an ATV within any state park; several were contacted during the weekend, and citations were issued. Tagging issues were the primary violation found among deer hunters, and hunters are reminded that it is their responsibility to make sure they are following the rules.

District 3 – Fergus Falls area

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) found several deer hunters having good success over the opening weekend. A disorientated 10-point buck was acting strange in the area and created a lot of attention. Violations encountered were untagged big-game animals, transporting loaded firearms, failing to validate licenses, failing to register prior to cutting up deer, deer stands left on public lands, and hunter harassment. 

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked waterfowl, pheasant, and deer hunters. The weather was warm during the weekend and many people commented on the unusual weather patterns. Several license violations are being investigated from the weekend.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked a busy firearms deer opener with lots of hunters contacted and some nice deer harvested. Citations were issued for various deer-hunting and license violations. Hunters were interviewed for shooting from the roadway and trespassing complaints, as well as lending and borrowing licenses and using invalid bonus permits.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working deer hunting and recreational activity. A nice buck was shot illegally northwest of Chokio that ultimately was wasted and left to rot. Douvier also took a report about a slug that had been shot through someone’s home and passed through two hallways before coming to a stop. No one was hurt in the incident.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking deer hunters. CO Baumbarger investigated complaints of road hunting and shooting from the road. Deer hunters are reminded to dispose of deer carcasses properly, not in the road ditch, because this makes all deer hunters look like slobs. 

District 4 – Walker area

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for recreational vehicle, and small- and big-game hunting activity. CO Baum also investigated multiple cases of hunting with aid of bait. CO Baum also responded to multiple TIP calls.  

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked deer hunters. Many reported not seeing many deer. Some grouse hunters and anglers were checked.  

District 5 – Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports the 2021 firearms deer season opener was busy with lots of people enjoying the nice weather. Most deer camps reporting some success. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer with the use of bait, failure to validate site tags, discharging firearms within a road right of way at big-game animals, borrowing and lending licenses, and operating ATVs during closed hours. People are encouraged to stop road hunting and baiting deer.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the deer opener was a nonevent with the lowest number of hunters and deer taken he has seen. There were numerous complaints about no deer and high wolf numbers. A number of camp sites and hunting cabins were vacant. 

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports a busy opening weekend with the firearms deer season in full swing. Per usual, addressing individuals hunting over bait was the main focus for the first two days of the rifle season. It was disappointing to see that of the six hunting-over-bait violations addressed, three of the adults had minors either hunting or were accompanying them in the stand, and another adult was knowingly allowing the minor to hunt over a pile of corn. Zavodnik also assisted the State Patrol with an individual who was suffering a medical condition while driving and crashed a vehicle into the woods. The driver sustained only minor injuries during the crash. 

District 6 – Two Harbors area

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked a warm firearms deer opener, and deer were scarce, by most reports. A couple of trespass calls were handled before and during the opening weekend. CO Manning also took a call about a stranded motorist on a snowmobile trail. The man reported they had been looking for a place to camp. The driver said they hiked out and hitchhiked to a spot with phone service, but they were having a hard time finding a tow driver to go on the trail to pull them out – hinting that perhaps the local CO would help out; she would not. A professional tow was located.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a busy weekend in Cook County. Hill made contact with four hunters on their stands, which had been previously discovered to be baited. All were cited for hunting over bait, and their equipment was seized. It is the responsibility of the hunter to know what is in front of his or her stand. Hill made contact with a party leaving a popular hunting area on opening day. The hunter stopped the truck and began talking to Hill about the hunt. It became apparent right away that something was going on and this prompted Hill to investigate further. The driver was later arrested for DUI. Even though Hill did not contact them while they were hunting, they admitted they had consumed multiple beers throughout the day while hunting. 

District 7 – Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) followed up on a wetland violation, investigated a beaver trap theft, and took numerous complaints about spruce top theft. Deer opener weekend was spent checking deer hunters, doing ATV enforcement, and following up on TIP calls. Enforcement action was taken for leaving decoys and a john boat unattended for several days on forestry land and public waters, expired ATV registration, transporting a loaded firearm on an ATV, possession of an untagged deer, and illegal deer shining. 

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked the firearms deer opener, investigated TIP complaints, and checked anglers this week. CO Fairbanks and his K9 partner, Si, also assisted in locating evidence in an ongoing investigation. 

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored small-game hunting and recreational vehicle activity during the past week. Time also was spent working a busy opening weekend of the firearms deer season in the Grand Rapids area. Complaints were received involving hunter harassment and trespassing. Holt worked with other officers in helping local law enforcement find lost hunter.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) enjoyed talking with deer hunters during the busy firearms opener. Overall harvest rates in the area seemed to be lower than average, likely due to the unseasonably warm weather. 

District 8 – Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a lot of people hunting during the firearms deer opener, but saw little success. Enforcement action was taken for transporting a loaded firearm, operating with expired ATV registration, failing to transfer ownership, and careless ATV operation. 

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth) followed up on trespassing complaints and baiting TIPs in preparation for the firearms deer season. Deer opener was worked and success was limited in the area, but hunters were able to work on a tan in the stand. Very few deer were seen, and the most common question asked was, “When will we have a wolf season again?”

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked opening weekend of the firearms deer season in the Meadowlands and Floodwood areas. The number of deer harvested seemed low. Assistance was given to the State Patrol with a stalled bus and its passengers along Highway 53.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked commercial cisco and lake trout nets. A few late-season trollers were making use of the nice weather to try for salmon and rainbows. Deer hunters were checked with low success due to high winds and warm temps on opening weekend. 

District 9 – Brainerd area

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) spent time this week working deer opener as well as fielding several calls leading up to opener about trespass issues, CWD questions, and baiting. A reminder to hunters in the area that attractants and minerals are not legal to have out in Aitkin and several other counties because of CWD restrictions. 

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking deer hunters and ATV riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful party hunting, loaded firearms in motor vehicles, trespass, and litter.  

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked a busy firearms deer opener and monitored some sportfishing activity. CO Guida also addressed deer-baiting complaints and deer-feeding violations that were discovered by the aviation section. CO Guida assisted a neighboring CO with the seizure of a tracked vehicle that was illegally used in a wetland that was part of a WMA with motor vehicle restrictions. The hunter group also had three untagged deer. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) worked with Crow Wing State Park staff to locate an archery hunter who was hunting on state park property. Enforcement action was taken, and the hunter’s equipment and deer were seized. 

District 10 – Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked small-game, trapping, and ATVing activity in the Isle area. Firearms deer opener brought a busy weekend. Several complaints were followed up on, including trespass, litter, target shooting, and reckless discharge of a firearm. Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, and hunting in a state park. 

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked hunters during the firearms deer opener. Reports of hunting over bait and possible lend-and-borrow license violations were taken. Speldrich also assisted the county sheriff with a call of a suicidal person.

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) visited a few properties on the firearms deer opener where several hunters were found, sitting in deer stands, next to barrels full of corn, hanging feeders full of corn, and with corn piled on the ground. Some claimed they did not realize it was illegal to hunt over bait, and many eventually admitted to knowing it was illegal but thought they would try to get away with it anyway.

District 11 – St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked with neighboring COs on wetland violations and prepared for the firearms deer season. CO Westby received several phone calls during the weekend about wounded deer that ran onto other people’s posted property because stands are placed too close to property lines. 

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) fielded various questions about the firearms deer season. A landowner reported finding a nice buck that was shot midweek prior to the opening morning. A bear case was made because the hunter failed to register a bear bait station.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports a case was made in which a subject entered posted property, without permission, and shot a buck within 500 feet of an occupied residence. 

District 12 – Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) had a busy firearms deer opener with questions about party hunting and trespass. CO Hanna investigated non-tagged deer and transporting loaded firearms. CO Hanna also wants to remind people to dispose of the deer carcasses in a proper manner and not in the ditch of someone else’s residence. 

District 13 – West Metro area

CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) reports that on opening night of the firearms deer season, a hunter called to report that the deer he had shot had been stolen. The hunter had shot the deer, tracked it, shot it a second time, and then, feeling confident it was dead, he left to get his ATV to recover the buck. Upon returning to the kill site, he found that the buck had vanished. Birdsall located the buck the following day. It had managed to stand up and run off. The hunter was informed that his deer was not stolen. Rather, it was incredibly resilient. 

CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) checked deer hunters and assisted hunters in locating their deer. Fogarty also educated hunters as to what types of state-owned property could be hunted. 

CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked the deer opener in southeast Minnesota and took calls from the Asian community regarding deer-hunting regulations. 

District 14 – East Metro area

CO Tony Salzer (Ham Lake) patrolled Anoka County for big-game hunting activity during the deer opener. CO Salzer investigated several violations, and enforcement action was taken for no blaze orange, hunting without licenses, and hunting deer over bait. CO Salzer also assisted with a big-game investigation from another state.

CO Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent a busy weekend monitoring deer-hunting activity in the area. He responded to multiple TIP calls from hunters in the field. Enforcement action for the week was taken for taking deer without license, failing to validate deer tags, and various ATV violations.

District 15 – Marshall area 

CO Luke Gutzwiller (Redwood Falls) spent time this last week working shining and big-game hunting activity. Enforcement action was taken for insufficient blaze orange, license and stamp issues, failing to tag deer, failing to validate deer site tags, shooting from roadways, illegally transport big-game animals, and trespass. K9 Earl responded to calls for evidence searches.

CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) spent the week working big-game hunting investigations leading up to the firearms deer season. Bowhunters are reminded that blaze clothing is required if they hunt during a firearms deer season.

District 16 – New Ulm area

CO Shane Vernier (Willmar) worked deer-hunting activity during the opening weekend. He followed up on multiple trespass and shooting-from-the-road complaints. 

CO Brett Wiltrout (Hutchinson) spent time this week on small-game hunting enforcement and AIS. Phone calls were fielded about trespassing, and big-game investigations continue. 

CO Dustin Miller (Windom) reports that the firearms deer opener was worked, with warmer-than-normal weather resulting in a lot of hunters going afield and most having success. 

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) worked opening weekend deer-hunting activity. Hunters were out in full force, and numerous violations were encountered, varying from trespass to insufficient blaze orange.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls concerning trespassing, using a vehicle to drive deer, requests for wildlife possession permits, and requests for legal clarification. 

District 17 – Mankato area

CO Jamie VanThuyne (Mankato) focused on deer hunting and fishing activity. On firearms deer opener, quite a few hunters commented that they were passing on deer due to the warm weather and concerns about caring for the deer before it would spoil.

CO Jeremy Henke (Albert Lea) spent much of his time checking area deer-hunting activity. Warm weather didn’t help with deer movement, and the number of deer harvested seemed lower than normal.

CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) reports a busy deer opener. Several parties found success and were thankful for the warm weather. Waterfowling activity has slowed. Some trespassing issues were addressed.

CO Meng Moua (Spring Valley) focused on a deer-hunting activities. A deer with a CWD tracking collar was harvested and reported to the DNR’s research program team. 

District 18 – Rochester area

 CO Tom Hemker (Winona) reports a busy first weekend of the deer season. Deer-hunting complaints included several neighbor CWD testing issues, trespass, baiting, late hunting, and many neighbor property hunting disputes. 

CO Mitch Boyum (Rushford) reports a slow opening weekend of firearms deer season. Warm weather slowed deer movement. Hunter numbers also seemed to be down. Violations encountered were untagged big-game animals, failure to validate tags, and trespassing. A report of subjects shooting prior to shooting hours was taken and investigated. 

CO Clint Fitzgerald (Rochester) focused on monitoring waterfowl and deer hunters throughout the week. Fitzgerald encountered many instances of hunters neglecting to unload their shotguns prior to leaving their hunting areas. 

CO Tyler Ramaker (La Crescent) received an anonymous complaint about a person buying resident hunting licenses after moving out of state. The matter was investigated, and the person bought a lifetime resident license before moving, so was therefore not in violation. Multiple violations for not tagging deer and loaded guns in motor vehicles were encountered.

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