DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports: The Echo trail had nearly double the deer hunting activity and hunting camps compared to recent years over this mild opener. Although the volume of hunters was very high success remained extremely low with the majority of camps reporting no success or even a sighting of a buck. Violations included: Taking deer over bait.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked anglers, whitefish netters and deer hunters this past week. Several calls came in about deer permit areas and deer baiting. CO Velsvaag also followed up on big game complaints and netting complaints.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked deer hunters over the opening weekend and followed up on complaints. The officer spent time at Camp Ripley for training. Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, shoot big game from a road, take antlerless deer without permit and hunting license violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked a warm firearms deer opener; deer were scarce by most reports. A couple trespass calls were handled before and during the opening weekend. Officer Manning took a call of a stranded motorist on a snowmobile trail; the man reported they had been looking for a place to camp and decided a snowmobile trail in an area with no cellular phone service was a good spot. The driver said they hiked out and hitchhiked to a spot with phone service but were having a hard time finding a tow driver to go on the trail to pull them out, hinting that perhaps the local CO would help out - she would not. A professional tow was located and after paying the bill to have the tow driver use a skid steer pull the SUV out and then tow it, the driver probably wishes he would have paid for a campground site.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked the week leading up to the firearms deer opener and the opening weekend. The warm weather seemed to cause slower deer movement with little rutting activity reported. A few nice bucks were taken, but most observed were young deer. Enforcement action included hunting deer with aid of bait, untagged deer, fail to validate deer tag, and transport loaded firearm in motor vehicle. A trespass case is also pending charges.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area deer hunting activity all week. Time was also spent enforcing ATV rules in closed areas of the state trail and State Highway 1.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a busy weekend in Cook County. Hill made contact with four hunters on their stands, which had been previously discovered to be baited - all were cited for hunting over bait and their equipment was seized. Hill noticed a common theme, “I put that out a long time ago, I thought it would be gone.” It is the responsibility of the hunter to know what is in front of their stand and if they plan on placing feed, make sure every grain is picked up 10 days prior to hunting. Hill made contact with a party leaving a popular hunting area on opening day. The hunter stopped their truck and began talking to Hill about their hunt. It became apparent right away that something was going on and this prompted Hill to investigate further. The driver was later arrested for DUI. Even though Hill did not contact them hunting, they admitted they had consumed multiple beers throughout the day while hunting. Not only does alcohol and driving not mix well, alcohol and hunting is just as serious.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked a warm and pleasant firearms deer opener. Hunters were seeing deer but harvest seemed a bit quiet for the opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for some ATV and deer baiting violations but overall law compliance was good. Murray answered several questions related to youth hunting and deer license questions.

District 5 - Eveleth area
CO Darrin Kittelson (Intl. Falls #1) reports the 2021 Firearms Deer Season Opener was busy with lots of people enjoying the nice weather. Most deer camps reporting some success, some better than others. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer with the use of bait, failure to validate site tag, discharging firearm with a road right of way at big game animal, borrowing lending licenses, and operating ATV during closed hours. People are encouraged to stop road hunting and baiting deer.

CO Curtis Simonson (Intl. Falls #2) reports working the busy and much anticipated Firearms Deer season opener this past weekend. The warm weather had many hunters out enjoying the weekend. Enforcement action taken this past week consisted of hunting deer with the use or aid of bait and not validating site tags. CO Simonson assisted neighboring officers with someone shooting a deer within the road right of way.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) Monitored whitefish netting activity on area lakes. Success was reported and observed to be slower than previous years. The CO handled complaints of animals injured by motor vehicles on area highways. Deer became markedly active with several bucks observed during daylight hours chasing does across roadways. With the opening of the firearms deer season, calls of illegal activity jumped and several individuals were contacted for a variety of deer hunting related violations.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the deer opener was a non-event with the lowest number of hunters and deer taken he has seen. Numerous complaints of no deer and high wolf numbers. A number of camp sites and hunting cabins were vacant. Area lakes were checked along with local forest roads. Waterfowl activity was monitored. A midweek snow storm appears to be bearing down on the northland to once again change the landscape. Watercraft winter prep continues.

Cook vacant

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily small game and deer hunters. Hunters found little success over the opening weekend with reports of very little deer movement. Larson also spent time investigating deer hunting violations.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked big game activity over the firearms deer season opener. Many hunters found limited success over the weekend, with many reporting not seeing many deer or hearing many shots. Warm weather contributed, but also made for comfortable sitting conditions. Violations encountered included hunting over bait, no deer license in possession, and driving after revocation.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports a busy opening weekend with the firearms deer season in full swing. Per usual, addressing individuals hunting over bait was the main focus for the first two days of the rifle season. It was disappointing to see that of the six hunting over bait violations addressed, three of the adults had a minor either hunting or were accompanying them in the stand, and another adult was knowingly allowing the minor to hunt over a pile of corn. Zavodnik encountered several deer hunting license violations, addressed illegally placed “No Trespassing” signs, and assisted local law enforcement with a felon who fled off into the woods. He also assisted State Patrol with an individual who was suffering a medical condition while driving and crashed their vehicle into the woods. Luckily, the driver sustained only minor injuries during the crash.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring hunting and trapping activity. Grouse hunter success increased this week whereas waterfowl hunters report seeing few ducks. CO Broughten worked firearm deer opener where deer hunters report seeing few deer. CO Broughten investigated violations of hunt deer with the aid of bait, no blaze orange during firearms deer season, trespass, and hunter harassment.