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Field Reports: City deer hunters will now have unlimited antlerless tags

Bow hunters in Duluth’s city deer hunt will have access to unlimited antlerless deer tags this fall, but hunt officials say the new regulation probably will have little effect on the harvest.

Since 2005, city hunters and those in the surrounding deer permit area 182 have been able to take up to five deer with the proper tags. This past spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposed making all of permit area 182 a “metro” hunt with unlimited antlerless tags. But the DNR dropped that proposal after public opposition.

However, the DNR strongly encouraged the city of Duluth to pursue “metro” designation for bow hunters within the city, and that designation is now in effect, said Phillip Lockett, president of the Arrowhead Bowhunters Alliance, which conducts the city hunt.

Deer populations remain high in the city, said Chris Balzer, DNR area wildlife manager in Cloquet. The DNR still receives complaints from city residents about deer eating shrubs, flowers and garden vegetables.

Lockett said the “metro” designation is unlikely to change deer harvest rates in the city hunt significantly. Last year, just seven hunters among 391 in the city hunt shot the maximum five deer, according to the ABA.

“I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference,” Lockett said. “It’s going to be tough to fill those tags. If someone gets five, they’ll be doing good.”

Duluth bow hunters took 399 deer last year, about 30 percent fewer than the year before. Many city bow hunters said they didn’t see nearly as many deer last fall as they had in previous years.

Canada expedition overcomes challenges

Six paddlers with ties to northern Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Duluth are making good progress in their 900-mile canoe expedition in a remote region of Canada, said Pete Smerud of Finland, father of team member Kari Smerud. The paddlers of the 8 Rivers North Expedition left Saskatchewan in mid-June and are headed for Whale Cove, Nunavut, on the shores of Hudson Bay.

“They’re now about two weeks from Hudson Bay,” Pete Smerud said in an email to the News Tribune on Thursday. “Sometime soon they’ll paddle into a radius close enough to the Bay that ‘bear watch’ will begin. They’re carrying a motion sensor fence with a loud alarm, as well as two shotguns.”

The precautions are being taken because polar bears frequent the west coast of Hudson Bay during summer months, waiting for ice to form in the fall.

Just two weeks into the trip, Smerud said, the team realized that two of its three canoes, bought used before the trip, were breaking down under the rigors of expedition travel. When the paddlers reached a small village near Black Lake, Saskatchewan, they bought two canoes from an outfitter 500 miles to the south and had them delivered to Black Lake. On they went, Smerud said.

Learning to shoot

The United Northern Sportsmen’s Club and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will hold their eighth annual Youth Outdoor Field Day on Saturday at the UNS headquarters on Island Lake. The event is open to kids ages 8 to 17. Kids will attend a seminar, shoot a laser shot simulator and several different calibers of rifles, as well as shotguns and archery. A parent/guardian must accompany each child, and lunch is provided. Registration is required. Call Paul at (218) 590-7716, Jason at (218) 525-7660 or Kevin at (218) 348-4918.

Duck stamp legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday passed a measure that would raise the price of a federal duck stamp from $15 to $25. The measure is now headed to the House floor for consideration. Since 1934, the federal duck stamp program has protected nearly 6 million acres of habitat through expenditures of more than $900 million, according to Ducks Unlimited.

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