Hook and bullet club - Deer hunting

by Nick Wognum

For archery hunters, the 2004 deer season has been off and running for several weeks now. For the firearms hunters, we’re just getting ready for what should be a banner season.<BR><BR>“The old timers are comparing this to the mid to late 1960s,” said DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch of Tower. “The population level is unchanged from last year.”<BR><BR>Hunters registered nearly 5,000 deer in our area but Mother Nature filled those empty hoof prints right back up again.<BR><BR>“We had a huge fawn crop this year,” said Rusch. “And we just don’t have the numbers to knock the population back by say 25 percent.”<BR><BR>That means there will be lots of deer and lots of opportunities for guys to shoot does and/or more than one deer this year.<BR><BR>Even in zone 116, the Fernberg, nearly every hunter who applied for an antlerless permit will get one. Zone 116 is the only one in our area where you had to apply for a doe permit ahead of time. For the rest of the area, your tag is good for either a buck or a doe and you can buy an additional bonus antlerless tag as well.<BR><BR>To try to ease the confusion of the new rules, the DNR has a color-coded map out. If a zone is blue, there is a lottery for the antlerless permits. If it’s red, you get an antlerless permit automatically and you can buy a bonus permit to boot.<BR><BR>Still confused? You’re not the only one. <BR><BR>It will take some time for guys to get used to this new system but it seems like the way to go. <BR><BR>“Why is an area in the lottery versus managed? It reflects whether or not there is a high deer population there,” said Rusch. “If they have a doe tag that can kill a deer in any zone that is red.”<BR><BR>Last year the antlerless tag was zone specific even if you hunted in two zones that were each managed. That’s gone now. You still must indicate where you intend to hunt most often but you can take a deer of either sex in any managed area. <BR><BR>Back to the Fernberg for a minute. Personally, I still disagree with shooting does in that area. But as they say, opinions are like rear ends, everybody has one. <BR><BR>Last year 125 people applied for the 50 tags that were available. A total of 27 antlerless deer were taken. This year 100 tags will be available. <BR><BR>Rusch wants a 50-50 ratio of bucks and does taken in 116 and there were 238 bucks taken. Somehow it seems hard to believe it would be wise to keep increasing the number of doe tags and take that many does as well. Only time will tell.<BR><BR>There were some other changes made this year, including removing the ridiculous rule on no party-hunting for all season licenses. At least that was a common sense move. <BR><BR>As the firearms season gets closer, we’ll keep you up to date on the changes and what else is going on for this year.<BR><BR>The number one thing guys are noticing right now is the no ATV signs popping up here, there and everywhere.<BR><BR>Thank the U.S. Forest Service’s new plan that is being implemented at rocket speed, at least for banning ATVs.<BR><BR>The new plan forbids off-trail riding of ATVs on federal land, even for the removal of big game. This is way off base and goes directly against the rules used by the DNR for state land.<BR><BR>Guys are going to find out that if they hunt on federal land, they better watch where they drive their ATVs. I’m hoping the Minnesota Deer Hunters association jumps on that one. <BR><BR>The bigger news today is the signs going up banning ATV travel on roads like the Cloquet Line. This is a tricky situation that could, however, get resolved with a bit of work. <BR><BR>The Forest Service has jurisdiction over parts of the Cloquet Line. Since vehicle traffic is also allowed and the Forest Service is in a panic over having an ATV and a vehicle on the same road, the signs go up. <BR><BR>There is a strong possibility that other governmental units could take over jurisdiction and remove the Forest Service from enforcing their rules. <BR><BR>ATV riders looking for more information should attend a Stumpjumpers meeting on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Ely Lodge. A state ATVAM board member will be on hand to help answer questions. <BR><BR>In the meantime, be careful where you wheel.