Special Deer Hunts to be Held

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Special deer hunts will take place this fall in 21 Minnesota state parks for those persons selected in a special hunt drawing to be held by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

While most of the parks will remain open to the public during the hunts, for public safety reasons a number of parks will have some use restrictions. Restrictions will range from closing trails or areas of the park to restricting use of the park to special hunt permit holders only during the duration of the hunt. For example, Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park will be open to the public during the special hunt in the park, but the park’s horse trails will be closed and use of the other hiking trails is discouraged. Due to the extensive area being hunted at Afton and Crow Wing State Parks, use of these parks is restricted to special permit holders.

PICK UP A MAP; WEAR BRIGHT COLORS

DNR officials said that visitors who plan to use the parks during the special hunt event should stop at the office when they arrive to pick up a map of the no hunting zones in the park. Maps of these zones will also be posted in various locations in the parks.

DNR officials strongly suggest that visitors wear blaze orange while they are in a park that is holding a special hunt and that they take care to remain within the designated no hunting areas.

Visitors might also think about choosing an alternative park nearby for recreation if a special hunts is being conducted at the park they had planned to visit. For example, Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River will not be hosting a deer hunt this year and is an alternative choice for fall hiking or picnicking on the weekends that park use is restricted to hunt permit holders only at nearby Wild River and William O’Brien state parks. The public may contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 297-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) for assistance in choosing alternate locations.

HUNTS HELP CONTROL EXPLODING DEER POPULATIONS

State parks annually host a number of deer hunts in order to manage park resources, according to Ed Quinn, resource management coordinator for Minnesota state parks.

“Deer are part of the natural communities that we seek to preserve or restore in state parks,” Quinn said. “When deer populations in an area become too high, however, they can have significant negative impacts on the natural balance of plant and animal communities. Heavy deer browsing on seedling trees during the winter, can nearly eliminate regeneration of some tree species, such as pine.”

Quinn added that deer browse can also greatly reduce the numbers and varieties of wildflowers and other herbaceous plants that grow on the forest floor.

“Techniques, such as bud-capping and exclosures are also used to control levels of deer browse,” Quinn said. “Our overall goal is to manage deer so that populations are at levels that do not negatively affect the other natural resources. In some cases, that is best accomplished through special hunts.”

While most of the hunts are designated for regular firearms, nine parks will hold hunts for muzzleloaders. The hunts at Wild River, Rice Lake and Lake Bemidji state parks include opportunities for hunters with disabilities. Flandrau State Park is open to use by the public during the city of New Ulm archery deer hunt.

For more information on special hunts, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 297-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or visit the state park pages on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

STATE PARKS THAT WILL HOLD SPECIAL HUNTS INCLUDE:

*Afton State Park (Dec. 3-4) Muzzleloader Big Island State Park (Nov. 29-Dec. 1) Muzzleloader; (Dec. 13-14 Muzzleloader

*Crow Wing State Park (Dec. 5-7) Muzzleloader

Flandrau State Park (Part of New Ulm City Hunt) Archery

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Nov. 22-24) Regular Firearms

Gooseberry Falls State Park (Nov. 8-23) Regular Firearms

*Jay Cooke State Park (Nov. 29 – Dec. 3) Muzzleloader

Itasca State Park (Nov. 8-16) Regular Firearms

Lake Bemidji State Park (Nov. 8-11) Shotgun and Muzzleloader (Nov. 10-11, up to five disabled hunters will get a partner from Bemidji Minnesota Deer Hunters Association)

Lake Bronson State Park (Nov. 8-10) Regular Firearms

*Lake Shetek State Park (Dec. 6-9) Muzzleloader

Maplewood State Park (Nov. 15-18) Regular Firearms

Nerstrand Big Woods (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 5-7) Muzzleloader

Rice Lake State Park (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 5-7) Muzzleloader (Hunting blind will be available for hunters with disabilities)

*St. Croix State Park (Nov. 15-16) Regular Firearms

*Savanna Portage State Park (Nov. 15-21) Regular Firearms

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Nov. 8-23) Regular Firearms

**Tettegouche State Park (Nov. 8-23) Regular Firearms

*Wild River State Park (Nov. 8-9) Regular Firearms (Accessible elevated platforms for disabled hunters available.)

*William O'Brien State Park* (Nov. 8-9) Regular Firearms

Zippel Bay State Park (Nov. 8-16) Regular Firearms

*These parks will restrict park use to hunters only.

**In Tettegouche State Park, the only portion of the park that will remain open to the public is on the Lake Superior side of Minnesota State Highway 61. This includes Shovel Point and the mouth of the Baptism River, the park's cart-in campground, Palisade Head and the Baptism River wayside. Note that the park's main campground, the Illgen Falls cabin and the cabins at Tettegouche Camp will be closed to the public during the hunt.