District 5 — Eveleth area
Conservation Officer Shane Zavodnik (Cook Station) reports a busy weekend addressing individuals who were found hunting deer over bait. Everything from molasses to approximately 300 pounds of corn was observed while addressing the opening weekend hunting violators.
Zavodnik also ended up in a foot pursuit with an individual who was stopped for driving erratically. While in pursuit, the passenger of the vehicle thought it would be a good idea to hop in the driver’s seat and leave the scene.
Various enforcement action was taken throughout the week. Zavodnik continues to field trespass complaints, mostly due to spruce-top cutting.
CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) checked areas for deer baiting, worked deer hunting opener and addressed several deer-hunting complaints. Deer baiting was the most prevalent violation over the opening weekend.
One deer hunter had enough corn spread out to feed all the deer in the area. In the hunter’s deer stand was enough alcohol to keep a bartender and customers happy for quite some time. The hunter had started drinking before sunrise. Two rifles were seized in that case.
Assistance was provided to the Hibbing Police Department with a suicidal individual who had a knife. The incident ended peacefully and he was transported by ambulance. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over baitl no blaze orange; possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; possessing a firearm outdoors without a deer license; and ATV violations.
CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) noted that prior to the rifle deer season, he took reports of people erecting deer stands on other peoples’ property and various other trespass-related calls. Some ATV activity was noted prior to the deer season also.
With one particular ATV that Frericks stopped for a registration violation, the operator had a dozen ears of corn and some squash in the back of the ATV. Frericks gave the operator some advice and a lesson on the laws regarding deer baiting.
During the deer season, enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, numerous trespass cases and no license in possession.
CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring hunting and trapping activity. Broughten worked opening weekend of firearm deer season. Deer hunters reported limited success. Multiple cases were made of deer hunters hunting over bait. Broughten also fielded calls regarding trespass, ATVs and licensing.
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports a busy opening firearms deer season with lots of people out enjoying the seasonably warm weather. Some people also decided to give fishing on the Rainy River one last chance before the cold and ice hit.
Enforcement action for the week included deer hunting over bait; expired ATV registration; allowing to hunt over bait; overlimit of fish; and possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana.
CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports time was spent returning calls in regard to deer-hunting questions, mainly in regard to the new zone designations in the area. The majority of the week leading up to the opener was spent locating and documenting baited deer-hunting stands, and then visiting those locations on opening day. A fishing complaint was also followed up on, which resulted in a multitude of violations uncovered.
Violations included taking deer with the aid of bait; angling overlimit; possession of marijuana; possession of paraphernalia; failure to register at a state campground; no state park pass; expired ATV registration; and allowing a juvenile to hunt in violation of game laws.
CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports one of the poorest deer openers he has seen, with few deer and fewer people. He received numerous comments on the lack of deer and high wolf numbers. Area forest roads were checked and public access sites monitored. Seasonal equipment work is ongoing.
District 6 — Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports a much higher number of hunters were seen taking part in the opening of the firearms deer season in the Ely area. The warmer-than-average temperatures did not seem to hamper deer movement, and in some areas a great deal of success was seen. Violations included hunting without blaze orange, hunting deer over bait, and transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers, whitefish netters and deer hunters this past week. Deer-hunter numbers were down from past years. Netters had issues with ice earlier in the week. Most of the calls related to trapping and deer-hunting regulations.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking whitefish netters and deer hunters over the warm opening weekend. He assisted Cook County deputies with a vehicular homicide. Enforcement action was taken for trapping and big-game violations.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) spent a warm week and firearms deer opener in the northwoods. Grouse hunters are still afield but reporting few birds. Manning took a couple reports of dogs caught in fox traps.
Deer season was off to a slow start and hunters reported far more squirrels than anything else. A few hunters gave up and opted to switch to grouse hunting due to temperatures and lack of movement by the deer. Deer hunters are reminded to validate tags at the kill site. Don’t wait until you put the tag on at your camp or vehicle.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) reports working activity leading up to and including the firearms deer opener. Success seemed to be low opening weekend. Many folks were visited on their stands over opening weekend who were hunting over bait. In each case, citations were issued and rifles were seized.
In addition to hunting with the aid of bait, other enforcement action included hunting deer without a license; transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; shooting within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling; late shooting; and several ATV violations.
Deer carcasses are already showing up in places they shouldn’t be. Please don’t dispose of carcasses in road ditches, parking lots or trailheads.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area deer-hunting activity. Several loaded firearms in motor vehicles were noted and addressed. Time was also spent assisting Lake County deputies with finding lost hunters.
CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) prepared for and worked the opening weekend of the firearms season. Many hunters were contacted and as expected due to the warm weather, the success rate was extremely low. One of the few harvested deer that Hill did encounter, though, was found to be in violation after the hunter incorrectly validated their tag and failed to tag the animal.
Another hunter was cited for hunting deer with the aid of bait after a bait block was found in front of their ground blind. Believe it or not, even though the hunter caught Hill on a trail camera inspecting their bait block, they still hunted the ground blind and even freshened the pile up with more bait!
An ATV operator on a roadway was cited for no driver’s license.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked an unseasonably warm deer opener along the North Shore. Few deer were seen hanging on camp poles but most hunters checked were just happy to be outdoors. Grouse hunters and even anglers were taking advantage of the nice weather. Enforcement investigations included hunting deer over bait, late shooting and trespass violations.
District 7 — Grand Rapids area
CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) worked the deer season. He also checked anglers and small-game hunters, and patrolled campgrounds, ATV riders and aquatic invasive species activity. Numerous game-and-fish questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints and a grass fire.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked hunters, responded to Turn in Poachers complaints and monitored OHV activity this past week. Fairbanks and his K9 partner, Si, also assisted in serving a search warrant, located spent casings for an ongoing poaching investigation and assisted the county in locating spent casings for an ongoing criminal investigation.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, transporting a loaded firearm, operating an ATV during closed hours and illegal operation of an ATV by juveniles.
CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) spent time checking deer-hunting activity this past week. She worked the firearms deer opener and saw some success in the field. Enforcement action was taken for deer-baiting violations and deer-hunting license violations.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working a busy opening weekend of the firearms deer season. The most frequent violation this season continues to be hunting deer with bait. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer without a license; hunting deer with the aid/use of bait; transporting loaded firearms; and no hunting licenses in possession. Follow-up investigation was also conducted on pending cases.
CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked a busy deer firearms opener. Hunting success was moderate but most people seemed happy to have the opportunity to get outside and spend some time in the woods. Several hunting issues were addressed and assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies on calls for service.
District 8 — Duluth area
CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) had a busy week leading up to the firearms deer opener. Activity was slow compared to prior seasons in the station but there were still plenty of hunters afield.
Willis assisted another officer with a DWI arrest on an ATV in the far northern part of the station. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV without headlights, trespass and hunter harassment.
CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked baited stand complaints and answered questions regarding the deer season. Very warm weather and few hunters resulted in few deer taken in the area. Trespassing complaints, baited stands and ATV violations were most common issues observed during the week.
CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent the first part of the past week looking for baited hunting areas. Opening weekend had plenty of hunters in the woods. Duncan checked a few hunters who were successful and several who were not. Most hunters said the weather was too warm. Examples of violations observed included no blaze orange; hunting over bait; transporting loaded guns; and taking antlerless deer in a bucks-only permit area. Duncan also worked night-shining complaint areas.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) focused work on the firearms deer season. Numerous calls and questions were answered before the season. Humphrey followed up on baiting complaints; unlawful target shooting; assisted local law enforcement with a suspicious vehicle; received calls of an orphaned bear cub in the Cromwell area; and issued wildlife-possession permits.
Deer opener was tempered by mild weather and little deer movement. Hunters were reporting mixed results. Several hunters checked were in T-shirts. A few decided to go golfing instead. Humphrey responded to a variety of calls including trespass concerns, property boundary issues, ATV operation, early shooting and deer feeding/baiting.
Some common violations encountered included transporting loaded firearms; ATV operation; deer license/tagging; allowing youth to commit game and fish violations; and no blaze orange.
CO Scott Staples (Carlton) spent the start of a busy deer season working baiting and other tips that were called in. One person who has had several DNR violations in the past was found to be hunting deer over bait, hunting deer without a license and unlawfully possessing a firearm. Assistance was given with a medical call where a hunter fell 16 feet out of his deer stand.
Other violations encountered over opening weekend included operating an ATV during prohibited hours; untagged deer; failure to register deer; and ATV registration violations.
Lake Superior Marine Unit
CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked his 32nd firearms deer opener. It turned out to be one of the warmest in memory. Hunting success overall was poor in most areas worked. Olson worked with CO Murray in the Two Harbors area on baiting complaints, trespass and landowner disputes. It resulted in corrective actions taken in the field. He returned several calls on hunting license issues and law questions and assisted the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office with a domestic dispute north of Duluth.
CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked an unseasonably warm deer opener week. High winds and warm weather kept deer movement to a minimum, but many hunters were comfortable in their stands. Baiting complaints were checked, resulting in citations and equipment forfeitures. Hunters forgetting to unload their rifles for transport on an ATV was a common theme.
Deer-season activity seemed lower than usual, with quite a few rural shacks remaining uninhabited even during a normally busy time of year. Enforcement action was taken for big-game and ATV violations.