Doe tag application deadline quickly approaching for 2009 seasonWORTHINGTON — Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you.
Even if you have three months to get something done, it always seems that you get right down to the wire in actually getting it done.
There is an approaching deadline every deer hunter should be aware of. There have been several important changes in the way that deer herds are being managed in the southwestern part of the state.
Some of these will apply to all and others only to select groups.
The first change is the biggest in my opinion. This change was a result of some very bad behavior by a select number of hunters, although the number is bigger than I or anyone wanted. The rules were changed several years back that allowed every youth deer hunter that bought a license the opportunity to shoot a female deer — called a doe — if the opportunity presented itself. This was designed to encourage more youths to get into deer hunting and to allow them the very best chance of success in order for them to want to continue the activity.
On the outside, this was an effort based on good intentions and sound management. What happened was not what was expected. When every youth was able to shoot a doe, it was expected that some of them would. Youth hunters are the least experienced and as a result are also probably the least accurate marksmans. This would result in does being harvested, but not in great numbers. This would also not dramatically increase the number of does killed. Only the youth could actually shoot the doe and fill the tag.
What actually happened was twofold. Some hunting parties bought many licenses in the name of youth hunters and because all of these tags were eligible to harvest does, almost all did harvest a doe.
Others didn’t buy extra licenses, but participated and the doe harvest sky rocketed anyway. How does this happen? It happens when adults who are far better shots kill does and use the youth tag to fill it.
Party hunting is legal in Minnesota, which allows any member of a party to fill the tag of another until all available tags are full. This party hunting ability was never allowed, nor is it legal in filling youth doe tags. When party hunting spilled over to filling youth doe tags, the number of does killed exceeded expectations many fold, and the deer herd numbers in the farmland zones were reduced to numbers much smaller than management goals.
With deer herd numbers too low, the answer is a new regulation. This year in Rock and Nobles counties, all youth will now have to apply for a very small number of youth antlerless permits. Only 50 kids in each county will now be able to harvest a doe. All other youth and all adults — regardless of whether you bow hunt, firearms hunt or hunt with a muzzleloader —— will now hunt for bucks only. No antlerless tags for anyone else. This is all a result of adults killing does illegally. This now hurts youths, as very few young hunters will have the opportunity to shoot a doe. In other counties, there will be a few doe permits spread out over the entire hunting community.
The deadline for youth in Nobles/Rock Counties is Sept. 10. This is the same deadline for other hunters in other areas to apply for the limited number of permits. It is my hope that when deer numbers rebound, as I think they will, as a result of reduced doe harvest that all youth will again be able to harvest does.
Do you think the rest of the adult hunting world will have gotten a clue by then, or will the entire story be retold five years from now? I hope it is the former.
The second big change, this one without a deadline, that will affect hunters this year and not in a favorable way in my opinion is the rules surrounding casing your firearm.
If you possess a hunting license during an open season, you can now drive to and from your hunting spot with an uncased firearm. As a firearm safety instructor, I think that this is a very bad idea. Casing your gun as a habit is good practice for safe gun handling. You cannot drive with an uncased gun through a town of more than 2,500 people as this is still illegal. There are few metro counties where this new uncased gun law does not apply. The gun CAN NOT be loaded. If you are caught with a loaded gun, your gun can be confiscated and held for evidence. This could result in not seeing it again for many months. This is in addition to hefty fines. If you are out shooting clay pigeons — this is not hunting — it will still need to be cased.
What can be gained from an uncased gun? It makes it easier to get a ride back your truck at the end of a deer drive or a pheasant walk. We always told our class participants to carry a gun sock (a very light gun case) in their hunting vest for the ride back. There was a Minnesota politician that must have thought that this was just way too hard for the constituents in his district to figure out this difficult challenge. As a result, now they don’t have to. I think that this rule will cause problems that could be avoided.
A Conservation Officer is expecting to see guns, some cased and some not.
What about a sheriff’s deputy that might stop you for speeding? Do you think he is expecting an uncased gun in the front seat of your car? It will just make for many more unnecessary tense moments. I will continue to case my gun and carry a gun sock as required. I recommend that you do the same.
There are a few other rule changes that could be of interest. The first is that you can leave a tree stand out overnight on public Wildlife Management Areas. This is pretty neat except that it can only be done while bear hunting. Not going to happen here, so don’t make the mistake and get a ticket on this one. It was once legal to hang a bait feeder (most did this to bait deer which is illegal) more than six feet off the ground and call it a bird feeder, which then made it legal. Gladly they have done away with this stupid exception and all feeders, no matter how high, will be considered to be deer baiting if placed next to your deer stand.
The last little tidbit of information is that the rules that deal with deer shining (casting a bright light) no longer has anything to do with the day of the month that you do it in. The rules were different in the past and were very confusing. Now you can shine deer with no gun from sunset to two hours beyond sunset. This will make any bright light at 2 a.m. a ticket opportunity. You can still track a wounded deer without a gun with the use of a flashlight at any hour of the night.
I have never heard of recreation deer shining. This is a practice left mostly to poachers.
Remember the Sept. 10 deadline if you are eligible and want to apply for a doe permit. You can call the local CO, Gary Nordseth, at (507) 945-8101 with any additional questions.
I would like to thank officer Nordseth for the rules update and his interaction with the outdoor community in this part of the state.
The opinions in the column are my and in no way represent the thoughts or opinions of Nordseth.