DNR offers outlook and reminders for firearms deer season
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers some important information and tips for the nearly 500,000 hunters who will be venturing into fields and forests when the firearms deer season opens on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Minnesota has about 1 million wild deer and plenty of opportunities for deer hunters. In a historical context, too many deer were taken during the 1960s and rebuilding of the deer herd began in 70s, 80s and 90s. Now DNR is managing the herd on population goals based, in part, on public input.
As a result, the harvest peaked in 2003 at 290,000 during a time of liberal hunting regulations. The DNR has issued fewer either-sex permits this year than it did six years ago, yet the harvest will likely be similar to last year - the eighth-highest harvest on record.
Putting safety first is the best way to ensure an enjoyable and successful hunting trip. Double-digit hunting fatalities were the norm in Minnesota during the 1950s and 1960s with a high of 29 fatalities in 1961. But with the help of mandatory hunter education classes, that average has been greatly lowered.
Always remember to:
* Point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction.
* Treat every firearm with the same respect you would show a loaded gun.
* Be sure of your target and what is in front of and behind your target.
* Unload and safely store firearms when not in use.
* Handle firearms and ammunition carefully.
* Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log with a loaded firearm.
* Carry your firearm safely, keeping the safety on until ready to shoot.
* Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.
* Don't drink alcohol or take mood-altering drugs before or while handling firearms.
* Be aware of changing weather conditions.
Follow and respect Minnesota's trespass law
No one may enter legally posted private land for recreation use without permission. The vast majority of hunters follow this law but hunter trespass on private property and agricultural land are among the top complaints received by conservation officers each year. Landowners who encounter a trespasser, should not confront them. Instead, they should contact al conservation officer, the Turn-In-Poacher hotline at 800-652-9093, or a local law enforcement agency.
Stay off wet trails with motor vehicles and off-highway vehicles
Some parts of northern Minnesota have had three-to-six inches of rain in the last 30 days. Water stays in the soil at this time of the year because there is very little evaporation. Hunters should use good judgment and be cautious to avoid damage to the forest roads and trails.
Help eliminate Bovine Tuberculosis
Hunter participation in the DNR's sampling program in northwestern Minnesota's Deer Permit Area 101 is vitally important and helps reduce the number of deer that U.S. Department of Agriculture ground sharpshooters will take this winter. It takes a few minutes to remove samples from deer harvested in that area. It's a quick process and provides valuable information about the status of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) and distribution in local deer populations.
Hunters can take their deer to the Riverfront Store in Wannaska or another deer registration station within permit area 101. They will receive a DNR Cooperator patch and be entered into a firearms raffle sponsored by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. More information is available online.
Don't give CWD the potential to start
With the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a domestic elk farm near Pine Island, DNR will conduct extensive testing for the disease on Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15 in southeastern Minnesota. So far, the disease has not been detected in any wild deer. DNR staff and students from several universities will staff 26 stations throughout southeastern Minnesota. Similar to previous CWD surveillance efforts, hunters will be asked to submit lymph node samples from their harvested deer.
In return, hunters will receive a cooperator patch and be entered into a drawing for a muzzleloader donated by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. For deer taken between Monday and Friday, hunters are encouraged to save the head and bring it to one of the stations over the weekend. For more information, visit this Web site.
Leave firewood at home
The discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Minnesota makes the state's 900 million ash trees a prime target. Don't let it hitch a ride to new areas by transporting firewood.
Donate an extra deer at no cost
Minnesota hunters can donate, at no cost to them, deer for use in food shelves and feeding programs. To participate in the program, take your deer to one of the processors registered for the program. A list of processors is available by clicking on the venison donation link.