Minnesota Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – September 30, 2022
District 1 – Baudette area
CO Ben Huener (Roseau) conducted field training with COC Hams. They spent time attending a waterfowl-identification class, checking bear baits, and checking small-game and waterfowl hunters. Thief Lake had a good turnout, with hunters having mixed success. Violations encountered included shooting before hours and wanton waste.
CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) conducted field training with COC Paavola. They worked waterfowl opening weekend, where moderate to good success was found. Investigations were conducted on hunting deer over bait and illegal bear-bait stations.
CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck) reports checking bear, grouse, archery deer, and duck hunters this past week. Regas noted that hunters reported seeing a good number of ducks but also that their shooting skills were a bit rusty. Time was spent assisting with Officer Water Safety training at the State Patrol Academy at Camp Ripley, checking a few late-season anglers on area lakes, and investigating a wolf-depredation complaint.
District 2 – Bemidji area
CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports contacting several waterfowl hunters during the opening weekend. Time also was spent checking bear hunters, archery deer hunters, and anglers.
CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji) continued field training. Time was spent patrolling area ATV trails, lakes, and scouting for the waterfowl opener. It was a busy waterfowl opener at many public accesses, with a mixed bag of ducks being brought in. Waterfowl hunters took mallards, wood ducks, pintails, ringnecks, and teal.
CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking small-game hunters and waterfowl hunters. He checked many groups of duck hunters during the weekend, and most groups had some success and almost every group was law-abiding. Enforcement action for the week included trespass issues on a waterfowl production area, using lead shot on a WPA, and no plug in a shotgun while hunting migratory waterfowl.
CO Al Peterson (Osage) responded to a trespass call regarding a squirrel hunter. The hunter was located, and enforcement action was taken for trespass and no license.
CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on small-game, archery, and bear-hunting activity. Area WMAs and WPAs were patrolled. Follow-up on complaints about personal watercraft operators harassing waterfowl and beaver dam removal was conducted.
District 3 – Fergus Falls area
CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) reports checking a good number of duck hunters during the regular opener, with high regulatory compliance. Opening day produced a good average of ducks for most hunters, followed by a steep decline the second day. Additional time was spent checking anglers and responding to complaints about target shooting on public lands and hunter harassment. Goodman also received a call from a person who had struck a deer in central Stevens County. The person later discovered the deer rode along for the rest of their trip – well into Otter Tail County – in a trailer that was being pulled.
CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) handled complaints about aquatic vegetation illegally destroyed, set up an ATV safety class, and worked opening weekend of waterfowl hunting. Several calls were handled regarding the upcoming deer season, youth hunt, and trespass. Plautz handled ATV violations encountered this week and worked a potential fishing double-tripping complaint. She also responded to a call about a dead deer found in a field, which likely died from a collision with a motor vehicle.
CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked waterfowl hunters, anglers and ATV riders. The majority of waterfowl hunters checked were very disappointed in the lack of waterfowl present, with several of them voicing their displeasure about the early teal season. Osborne assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers on a waterfowl-baiting case in Douglas County.
CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) monitored waterfowl hunters on the opening weekend. Lots of groups were checked, and almost all of them were successful. Teal were the most commonly harvested birds around, with several two- and three-hunter limits counted. Muskie anglers were also monitored as late-season activity picks up. Bowhunters were checked, with a few having early season success.
CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent time with Breckenridge fifth-graders, speaking about invasive species and how important it is for each person to do his or her part. On waterfowl opener, Wood took a TIP report about an individual who had shot a pelican. This TIP led to a dead pelican and a citation issued to the individual responsible.
CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) observed waterfowl hunters having some success during opening weekend. Several groups of hunters blamed low success on the early teal season and believed birds were scattered and educated.
District 4 – Walker area
CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) continued training with a new conservation officer candidate. The officers worked Cass County area lakes and rivers throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for multiple overlimits, boating safety violations, and numerous waterfowl-hunting violations.
CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked archery deer and bear hunting along with small-game hunting throughout the week. The weekend primarily consisted of Cross checking waterfowl hunters and archery deer hunters.
CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) reports a hunter-harassment call was received and investigated.
District 5 – Eveleth area
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) and COC Choua Khang spent the past week monitoring fishing and boat activity on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River. Waterfowl season opened with few birds in the bag as the wild rice in Black Bay and the Rat Root River is minimal to nonexistent because of flooding earlier this year.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports waterfowl hunters did not seem as eager as in past years. Although there were hunters on the water, the overall number of birds observed in the area seemed to be down. Mosquitoes and sand flies were still present.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the waterfowl opener was one of the poorest he has seen. Few ducks and fewer hunters were observed. ATV use and small-game activities continue to increase. Most hunters observed were hunting from ATVs.
CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time giving a hunting and ethics talk to approximately 30 students going through a firearms safety class. He also assisted other instructors during the weekend for the field day portion. Waterfowl numbers were higher than normal for opener weekend, and the majority of hunters were found to have success.
District 6 – Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports waterfowl opener saw a generally low turnout in the Ely area, despite a good number of ducks and geese reported. Grouse-hunting activity continued to be steady with poor reports of hunter success.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) received a few more reports of bears raiding BWCAW campsites for food. Visitors should use secure storage bags/barrels and properly hang food to avoid a trip cut short. Complaints were received from homeowners about grouse hunters throwing beer cans out of trucks, driving onto clearly posted property, and shooting birds directly in front of houses. One hunter was surprised to learn that the gate he shot his bird in front of blocked someone’s home. He said: “I didn’t know anyone lived here. I have been hunting this road for 30 years!” Hunters should note that many people have been buying property and building small homes in the northwoods. Oftentimes, these homes are most often not visible from roads – even well under the 500-foot distance for legal hunting on unposted land.
CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked small-game and waterfowl hunters in Lake County. Pink salmon are starting to run, and a few anglers are finding fish willing to bite.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports numerous ATV riders were seen throughout the week, and a few minor violations were handled. Duck hunters were few and far between, but those who were checked were found in compliance. The typical bag of mallards and wood ducks was seen. Grouse-hunting success was a little spottier compared with the opener last week. The pink salmon run is hot. A pair of anglers was issued citations after they were found in possession of an overlimit on the Cascade River. Hill also dispatched an injured cow moose after it jumped off of a bridge and broke her back. The meat from the moose was salvaged.
District 7 – Grand Rapids area
CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week checking grouse hunters and investigating illegal spruce top-cutting activity. The weekend was spent mainly focusing on waterfowl hunting. Some hunters continue to forget that they don’t own public waters. Numerous complaints of territorial hunters harassing other hunters were taken.
CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy weekend of waterfowl opener in the area, with good results had by hunters.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on migratory waterfowl, small-game, boating, angling, and ATVing activities. Duck hunters were greeted by a wet opener and reported steady success.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) monitored waterfowl hunting over the opening weekend. Success rates were high considering the rice crop was rather poor this year.
District 8 – Duluth area
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) and COC Dallas Cornell spent time following up on deer-baiting complaints. They also spent time doing ATV enforcement while checking small-game hunters. Cornell and Duncan checked waterfowl hunters during the waterfowl season opener, where enforcement action was taken for no personal flotation device in a watercraft.
CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) received training this week and worked the waterfowl opener this weekend. Heavy fog and no wind made for a slow opening day, but overnight northwest winds helped some hunters on Sunday.
District 9 – Brainerd area
CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked small-game and waterfowl-hunting activity, as well as ATV enforcement during the week. Enforcement action was taken for registration issues and shooting nongame birds.
CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) and COC Ryan Christenson spent time patrolling ATV trails and checking anglers, bear baits, and waterfowl hunters. Several limits of woods ducks were observed. Hunters reported seeing good numbers of waterfowl.
District 10 – Mille Lacs area
CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked waterfowl hunters as the season opened for most hunters. A trespassing issue was addressed when access to a fishing lake was disputed.
CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) followed up on complaints about ATVs being operated in Lake Mille Lacs and trespass complaints.
CO Dan Starr (Onamia) reports the opening of regular waterfowl season was a bit discouraging, because an unacceptable number of violations were found. A long list of violations included no small-game license, no state duck stamps, unsigned federal duck stamps, unplugged shotguns, possessing/using lead shot, insufficient PFDs, overloaded watercraft, failure to retrieve downed ducks, no HIP certification, no license in possession, and illegal drug possession.
District 11 – St. Cloud area
CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports a busy duck opener. Enforcement action was taken for no license, unplugged shotgun, and burning prohibited materials. A trespass call was also handled.
CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked a busy waterfowl opener. Bags included 90 percent teal, with a few mallards, wood ducks and wigeon seen. Assistance with given with the upcoming DNR seized gun auction, which will be online through Hiller Auction in Zimmerman. Anglers and bowhunters were checked throughout the week. A law talk was given to the Rockville firearms safety class. Enforcement activity included no state duck stamp, no license, and unplugged gun.
District 12 – Princeton area
CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the Isanti area for the opening of the duck season. The weather was wonderful with the overcast skies. Hanna observed many ducks on the first day, but not so many the second day. Questions were fielded about trespassing and legal hunting hours.
CO Trent Seamans (Big Lake) patrolled for archery hunters, waterfowl hunters, and anglers. Additional time was spent investigating Wetland Conservation Act violations and following up on complaints in the Sand Dunes State Forest.
CO Clint Fitzgerald (Buffalo) worked waterfowl hunters during the busy opener. Success was mixed on Pelican Lake. Some unusually early divers were checked in the bag.
CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking small-game hunters and anglers. He also worked a busy waterfowl opener. Krauel also assisted a waterfowl hunter with boat issues get out of the mud and back to an access.
District 13 – West Metro area
CO Alexander Birdsall (Waconia) welcomed a good regular waterfowl opener for 2022. Hunters had mixed luck depending on locations. Enforcement action was taken for license violations and no personal flotation devices in waterfowl boats.
CO James Fogarty (Prior Lake) worked duck-hunting activity in his station. Many hunters were out enjoying the waterfowl opener, but limited success was found.
CO Arnaud Kpachavi (Mound) focused on waterfowl activity for the week. Low water levels for the waterfowl opener limited access to some area duck spots.
District 14 – East Metro area
CO Garrett Thomas (Eagan) spent time checking anglers on the Mississippi River and duck hunters on local WMAs. Hunters out on the duck opener experienced pretty limited success rates.
CO Tony Salzer (Ham Lake) and COC Cassie Rice worked more small-game hunters this week. They also investigated the illegal taking of turkey.
CO Christopher Tetrault (Maplewood) and COC Ohnstad continued training this week in the east metropolitan area, checking small-game, archery, and waterfowl hunters. Waterfowl opener was an eventful day where they saw mixed bag results from more than 90 people checked.
CO Scott Arntzen (Forest Lake) continued field training with COC Brett Fox. They spent time checking anglers and small-game, archery deer, and waterfowl hunters.
CO Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent the weekend monitoring waterfowl hunters in the area. Many hunters were out for duck opener on the river, with good success observed. He also checked area anglers and responded to calls from the public.
District 15 – Marshall area
CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) spent the week checking anglers and hunters. Waterfowl season opened with beautiful weather. Most hunters had markedly better success on Saturday than Sunday. A few limits were seen, mostly consisting of teal. Harvest of illegal species of birds was investigated.
CO Luke Gutzwiller (Redwood Falls) spent time this past week working the waterfowl opener and the archery deer season. K9 Earl assisted with a wildlife/evidence search.
CO Matt Loftness (Marshall) reports the waterfowl opener saw harvest numbers up from last year in the area. Archery and small-game hunting activity was also worked during the week. Hunters using public hunting lands are reminded to not block entrance roads with their vehicles and to use designated parking areas.
District 16 – New Ulm area
CO Shane Vernier (Willmar) spent time working duck-hunting activity during the opening weekend. He also followed up on a trespass complaint.
CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls reporting the taking of protected species, ATV violations, requests for hunting law clarification, and concerns for sick/injured wildlife. Nelson spent the week working waterfowl, small-game, archery deer, fishing, ATVing, boating, and invasive species enforcement activities. Open-water hunting opportunities are limited due to the Swan Lake drawdown and near-drought conditions, but hunters who accessed open water and scouted had success.
CO Dustin Miller (Windom) has begun deer investigations and took enforcement action for a variety of angling violations. He worked a busy waterfowl opener, with a large number of hunters within the Talcot WMA. Other hunters were contacted throughout the area, and a high number of violations were discovered related to license and stamp issues.
District 17 – Mankato area
CO Jamie VanThuyne (Mankato) focused on waterfowl hunting, archery deer hunting, and checking anglers. Numerous violations were encountered, resulting in enforcement action being taken. Waterfowl-related complaints were investigated.
CO Corey Wiebusch (Mankato) and COC Fontes are investigating a dumping complaint in a wildlife management area.
CO Meng Moua (Spring Valley) focused on archery and waterfowl-hunting activities. The majority of waterfowl hunters checked in the surrounding area lakes near the Iowa border were largely disappointed with the waterfowl opener.
District 18 – Rochester area
CO Derek Schneider (Zumbrota) worked a busy waterfowl opener and observed success by hunters. Complaints continue on Lake Byllesby regarding homes being struck by shotgun BBs. Waterfowl-hunter violations included reckless discharge of a firearm, no small-game license, no federal stamp, and possession of lead shot.
CO Tyler Ramaker (La Crescent) and COC Adam Stennett investigated an archery hunting violation and took enforcement action on violations uncovered. They also worked the waterfowl opener on the Mississippi River and contacted many hunters who had wood ducks and teal.
CO Kevin Prodzinski (Wabasha) reports that while working opening weekend of the duck season, he observed two people who had just reached their limit of wood ducks and had sent their dog for a final retrieve. As the dog was swimming to the duck, a bald eagle swooped down and stole their final duck before the dog could get to it. Also, Prodzinski responded to a complaint about hunting in a closed refuge on Peterson Lake. When he got there, he found decoys floating with no hunters around. Prodzinski is seeking assistance in getting in contact with the hunters and the decoys returned to the proper owners.