Hook and bullet club - On muzzleloaders

by Nick Wognum

The DNR makes efforts every so often to ask hunters for their input on rule changes. That’s happening again, although the closest meeting will be held in Two Harbors. <BR><BR>The rule changes being considered are fairly benign but you know the saying, “the world is run by those who show up.”<BR><BR>Luckily we don’t have to drive down Highway 1 to have our opinions known. You can submit your two cents via mail or email as well.<BR><BR>One proposal would allow scopes on muzzleloaders during the muzzleloader season. This seems like a common sense one, but as DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch from Tower has pointed out in the past, there’s usually two sides to every hunting-related issue.<BR><BR>“Remember, muzzleloader hunting used to be very restrictive, it was only at Camp Ripley originally and then it was made available statewide,” said Rusch.<BR><BR>“This is not a biological issue, when muzzleloaders originally came out we had flintlocks and percussion and there was no need for scopes. Now we have inlines and guns that are more space age. Our idea is to shoot more deer and scopes would help that.” <BR><BR>So, this rule change should go through without a hitch, right? Well, it’s not that easy. First there are traditionalists who don’t even like the idea of allowing inline muzzleloaders, so they may oppose it and don’t forget our good friends the antis who are against everything. <BR><BR>If you and I just sit back and say nothing, what we thought was a no-brainer could up being shot down since not enough support was shown. <BR><BR>“People always have opinions and this is the opportunity to weigh in,” said Rusch. “You don’t have to write a book or dissertation just say you support it or don’t support it. Then they tally it up and get an idea of how hunters feel and that can vary widely in different areas of the state.”<BR><BR>Another proposal would allow hunters to tag deer on both their regular archery and regular firearms licenses, but only one buck would be allowed. Currently, a hunter may purchase both an archery and firearms license, but they may only fill one of those licenses. <BR><BR>“This is going to be very popular,” predicts Rusch. “It’s a big one from the biological end and if the resource is out there I’m all for it. But we don’t want to see them take a buck because then we’re not trimming populations.”<BR><BR>This would help with the timelines involved when you have to apply for a lottery deer tag, so hopefully it will go through.<BR><BR>However, with the growing popularity of an all-season license, this isn’t really a big issue in my sights since you can buy an all-season and hunt archery, firearms and muzzleloader with one license. I will admit that it’s more expensive. <BR><BR>But the all-season license allows you to shoot one buck and one doe or two antlerless plus you can buy a management tag as well. <BR><BR>Other proposed changes fall within the bear hunting category. Not of interest to everyone, but if you like to bear hunt, you might want to check these proposals out. <BR><BR>Likely the most controversial would be to only allow bait stations for licensed hunters. <BR><BR>“Sometimes guys will put out some bait in the same spot every year and if they don’t get a hit then they don’t buy a license,” said Rusch. <BR><BR>This can take away opportunities from other hunters, especially in areas that have a lottery system for licenses. <BR><BR>Another bear issue would limit the size of bear bait station signs to 18 by 24 inches. I haven’t seen this as a problem but apparently in some areas this has been an issue. Guys were putting up very large signs as a way to keep other hunters out. <BR><BR>The closest meeting to provide input will be held on March 8 in the Two Harbors High School cafeteria from 7 to 9 p.m.<BR><BR>Written comments may be submitted to: wildlife@dnr.state.mn.us. or to: Hunting and Trapping Season Comments, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.