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Field Reports: Baiting still tops list of Minnesota deer hunt violations

Corn, apples and pumpkins are common foods used by Minnesota deer hunters who bait deer, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say. (Minnesota DNR photo)

Hunters who set out corn, apples, carrots or prepared bait products to lure in their buck continue to be the leading source of violations during Minnesota's firearms deer season, according to state conservation officers.

The problem seems especially bad along and north of the Iron Range where officers reported multiple violations on opening day, including several at a single deer camp.

Here are excerpts from several conservation officer's weekly reports, in their own words:

Duke Broughten, Cook: "Multiple violations of hunting deer over bait were investigated. In one instance of an individual hunting over bait, the person stated he 'watched those game warden TV shows' and he should have known it was a matter of time before he was caught."

Marc Hopkins, Tower: "...found numerous hunters in violation of the baiting laws and seized many firearms."

Don Bozovsky, Hibbing: "Baiting was on the forefront again, with five hunters cited and rifles seized on opening day... all had bait present when caught hunting. One individual had a pile of carrots in front of him.... Of the five people caught baiting, three had either no blaze orange on, or too little of it."

Matt Frericks, Virginia and his officer-in-training Jacob Swedberg "teamed up with area officers to check a deer camp where a majority of the stands were baited. From that hunting camp alone, four hunters were cited for hunting over bait."

Mark Fredin, Aurora: Reports "checking previously located baited deer stands on opening morning and many hunters' hunt was stopped when they received a citation and had their firearms seized."

Sean Williams, Ely: "Deer baiting again was the most common violation found and several citations were issued."

Anthony Bermel, Babbitt and an officer in training "spent the week leading up to the opener documenting baited deer stands. Seven deer baiters were cited and their rifles were seized on opening weekend... The main excuse for deer baiters this year is they didn't know the product they were using was illegal. The regulations booklet is very clear that hunters need to check the ingredient labels on the product."

First weekend Minnesota deer harvest down

Rain, snow and wind, especially Sunday, apparently combined to keep hunters out of the woods — and deer still roaming the woods — over opening weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season.

As first reported Tuesday in the News Tribune, registration numbers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the first two days of the season were down statewide 14.6 percent compared to the first two days of 2017, with 62,957 deer registered through Sunday this year compared to 73,759 last year.

In the 100 Series permit areas, which includes all of Northeastern Minnesota, 18,829 deer were registered through Sunday, compared to 23,9778 last year, down 21.5 percent.

Many hunters and most DNR wildlife managers were predicting a higher harvest in 2018, with seemingly more deer in the woods than in recent years. The DNR expected the total harvest to top 200,000 statewide, compared to about 197,000 last year.

That could still happen if weather improves. The season continues through Nov. 18 in Northeastern Minnesota.

The DNR staid extensive standing corn also hampered hunters in some areas.

Statewide licenses sales, at 392,056 through opening day, were down 2 percent compared to last year.

Tower area buck harvest up

Not all areas saw a decline in deer harvest opening weekend. Tom Rusch, DNR wildlife manager in Tower, said overall deer harvest in his area — permit areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132, 176, 177, 178 - was about the same as last year while buck harvest was up nearly 10 percent. Notably, the bad weather missed most of this area until Monday.

Rusch expects this weekend to be at the peak of rutting, which should mean good success if weather improves.

Duluth outdoors community celebrates on Thursday

Duluth's Great Outdoors Party is set for Thursday at Bent Paddle's taproom in Lincoln Park from 5:30-8 p.m..

This the fourth annual gathering celebrates Duluth's outdoor recreation opportunities and enthusiasts — especially the nonprofit organizations and volunteers who are building and maintaining outdoor recreation projects throughout the city.

The event is free and open to the public. Representatives from local outdoor groups will highlight their important work and upcoming initiatives. There will be live music, a short program at 6:30 p.m. to introduce the groups, and Lake Superior Bakehouse will offer fresh baked goods. New this year is a gear donation opportunity to aid Duluth's homeless population. Organizers will be collecting coats or other cold weather clothing, tents, and sleeping bags in good, clean condition.

Groups involved include Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, Superior Hiking Trail Association, Northland Paddlers Association, Duluth Climbers Coalition, Duluth Cross Country Ski Club, Duluth Parks and Recreation Department , Lester Amity Chalet, Duluth Rowing Club, Duluth Bikes, Youth Outdoors Duluth, UMD Outdoor Recreation Program, Duluth Mountain Bike Team, Duluth Area Horse Alliance, Positive Energy Outdoors, Minnesota Land Trust, St. Louis River Alliance, Bent Paddle Brewing, Continental Ski and Bike, Ski Hut and Duluth Coffee Company.