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Jameson

Another article in the Tribune

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The deer population in southwestern Minnesota is too low, and major changes -- including reducing the take of antlerless deer -- are needed to restore good hunting there, a coalition of hunters says.

Too many does are being killed via antlerless permits, youth tags and muzzleloader tags, in the opinion of the Southwest Minnesota Deer Coalition.

The group argues that many youth tags are being used illegally by adults to shoot antlerless deer. And the increase of muzzleloader hunters is adding to an overharvest of does, they say. The group recommends that antlerless tags be restricted and that no automatic tags be given for any type of license, including youth, muzzleloader or archery.

"There are almost no deer down there compared to what it used to be like," said Kirk Schnitker of Champlin, organizer of the group, which hunts in the southwest. "We need to quit killing does."

The Department of Natural Resources agrees with the premise. "We can't control the antlerless harvest under the current system," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program leader.

The DNR says abnormally high success rates for youth antlerless permits confirms that adults are using them illegally. "The youth permits are being abused by adults, there's no doubt in my mind," Cornicelli said.

"The solution is to go bucks-only for a few years, which I'm not inclined to do, or bucks-only with limited number of youth antlerless tags."

The deer group focused its attention on permit areas 237, 238, 250 and 295, which are in the Slayton-Worthington-Heron Lake-Jackson region. But Cornicelli said the DNR likely will consider changes to a much broader area of southwestern and western Minnesota where the deer population is below goals.

The group is meeting Monday with the DNR. "We want changes for the 2009 deer season," Schnitker said.

Drop party hunting?

The group also issued several secondary recommendations to the DNR, including outlawing party hunting; moving the firearms deer season out of the peak rut and starting it on the third Saturday in November; condensing the archery season to one month starting in mid-October; and shortening the muzzleloader season to nine days.

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Agree? Disagree?

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I gotta say I always thought it was a bad idea to not have the doe lottery apply to all deer seasons. I archery, firearm, and muzzleload hunt in a Lottery area, and hope that we soon have ONE doe lottery that covers all three seasons.

Youth antlerless permits being abused? Not too sure of the rules here, but pretty sure a youth could get a permit at age 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, and 12. Six possible youth tags! I say make a max of 2 or 3 youth tags per lifetime. Sorry youths frown but at least it wouldn't totally do away with the youth tags.

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"There are almost no deer down there compared to what it used to be like," said Kirk Schnitker of Champlin, organizer of the group, which hunts in the southwest. "We need to quit killing does."

I dont believe that a guy who lives in the cities should be trying to change the regulations in southwest mn cause of a bad year for hunting. There might not be the deer that were here a few years ago but low numbers I dont believe that. There might of been 100 deer less this year but the conditions for hunting was bad The new 9 day season could of had somthing to do with low numbers to with so much preasure they choose not to move. Lets not forget about the fields that were in to at least were I hunted there were some left. Maybe some should get out of there trruck a bit more.

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Aside from being hunters, what qualifies the Coalition to ascertain the right approach to take? Having fewer deer than previous doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. Maybe, there were too many deer previous and now it's more in line with what the environment can support? Could be many factors and a hunter's coalition may be too emotionally involved to be impartial enough to do what is truly right.

Maybe the deer herd is smaller because they are practicing AR or QDM. In order for these programs to play out, don't the numbers have to come down?

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Remember this Schnitker guy is also the anti-muskie guy who is at the helm of no more muskies I think that was the name of the web page or some HSOforum was all about the stopping of muskie stocking. We had a pretty interesting debate last summer about that. As far as the deer go I would think it is less QDM and more just brown down pounding and finally it is catching up in that area, just overharvest then again I'd let the DNR investigate that area and see what is around.

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Right on LOTW, it was the muskytroubles, I guess I'll admit I lost my cool with him last summer and I did apologize. I was thinking the same about the gull lake stocking issue. To each there own but he likes to hold the reigns in controversial topics. There are pockets all around the state with low deer densities and others are still strong. I have the Sunday Trib and haven't really read the article yet, will tonight, no more shooting does, sounds interesting and unrealistic, but what are the true deer densities in SW MN ?

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I live just east of the area in question. From my perspective, I do not see a decrease in overall numbers. I live on 13 acres northwest of Fairmont. The number of deer on and around my property is as high or higher than it has been since I have owned it (since 1995). The number of big bucks is lower than it used to be, but there are plenty of small bucks, and more does than I can keep away from my new trees, and garden.

I think this is another example of some one sitting in an office in a larger city looking at statistics of an area that he has never visited, and deciding that more legislation is the answer to every problem out there.

-just my opinion though.

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Not trying to take this off topic but after our discussion about AR and QDM a couple weeks ago and the position that I took at that time, I find it interesting how you have noted a change in the buck maturity ratio. I'm still listening even if you didn't think I was before.

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I think his basis is part because of his family members or friends that hunt that area that maybe have had recent poor success. Last years opening weekend of firearms wasn't very pleasant with a lot of wind. If it was windy in the thick swamps and forests I can only imagine what opening weekend must have been like for CRP and open land hunting like I think the southwest part of MN is like. If he lived in the area and had a scope and sequence of many years of hunting and living there to see what the wintering herds are like and such, I'd listen much more closely and it would carry much more weight.

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I think Bob what we are all hearing is some people pass on fawns, some on does, some on young bucks, but few if any on mature bucks. Some pass on female ducks, some do lots of catch and release. Some deer hunting areas like his have lots of subdivided land and it is very difficult with multiple stands on small properties to ever see a mature buck because a large % are gunned down every year, our harvest is something like 62% are yearlings and in some areas that is probably a much higher number especially since about that 1995 and on.

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I am just happy this debate doesn't involve the SE. I am in SE MN where the deer are thick as ticks and the freezer gets filled up every season. I have been many years since I have taken fewer than 4 does in a season, and now can be choosy about taking the tasty young ones. We keep the numbers of breeders down to save the crops, but they keep oozing back in from the nearby suburban woods to replenish our freezers each year!

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I just moved down to Worthington right before christmas. I do not see how the land around here can hold much for deer. A very large percentage of the land is fields, about the only trees that grow are around people's houses (or where houses used to be), and around the lakes. There is also some crp and cattails. The deer would seem to have food and cover in the summer, but slim in the winter.

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So what type of per square mile deer carrying capacity can the area have and if it was much higher what were the circumstances that led to that, I know we had quite a few mild winters in a row for a few years a few years ago, interesting.

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