CO Minnesota DNR tales

Minnesota's park ranger — conservation officers with the state Department of Natural Resources — have plenty of tales to tell. Here's their latest accounts of encounter with state wildlife, whether animal, bird or human.

Can’t tell Dad a thing — CO Joe Frear, Waseca, believed deer hunter numbers in the area to be lower than those in previous years. Success among deer hunters was good, with a high percentage of antlered deer taken. A father and son were encountered, with Dad doing some questionable things. The officers questioned Dad about it. The son stated, “I asked him the same question.” The look on Dad’s face was priceless!

Sometimes, ‘buck fever’ yields horse meat — CO Chad Sherack, Pequot Lakes, found that a hunter who said he tried to shoot a 6-point buck crossing an open field missed and hit the neighbor’s horse corralled next to the house. The suspect told Officer Sherack that he had “buck fever” and made a poor decision to shoot. This is a good reminder to ALL hunters to avoid tunnel vision and always know your target and what’s beyond it!

Don’t leave that gun there! — While checking four hunters coming out of a state forest, CO Greg Verkuilen, Garrison, noticed they only had one gun between them. The unarmed hunters stated they had left their guns in the stands because they were coming back the next day. Conservation officers highly recommend hunters remove all loose belongings, especially firearms, from public property whenever they are not there. Besides potential monetary loss, firearm owners can be criminally liable if the gun is found by someone else and misused.
Radio traffic nabs poachers — While on patrol, Officer Pat Znajda, Roseau, monitored portable radio traffic between two hunters using radios to hunt deer. It became apparent they were close by, as one warned the ther on the radio one had seen the game warden drive by. One of the hunters was found hunting over bait. As the one hunter was interviewed, he called the other hunter to come to his location. Officer Znajda, knowing where the other hunter was, fully expected him to walk to the location, but instead the hunter chose to drive with a loaded and uncased firearm sitting next to him in his car. Enforcement action was taken with both hunters and the portable radios were seized.

Deer hide and seek — CO Dan Malinowski, Fosston, observed a particularly canny buck playing hide and seek with traffic and hunters for the first 20 minutes of the firearm deer season.

In need of mentors — CO Chris Vinton, Detroit Lakes, had a case in which a young hunter had his 11-year-old brother hunting in the stand with a .410 slug shotgun. They were both hunting over bait.

To tell the truth — CO Pat Znajda, Roseau, stopped a hunter who was operating an ATV on a public roadway and operating with an expired registration. Even though there was fresh blood on the ATV, the hunter denied shooting a deer. When the hunter provided his hunting license, the site tag was detached, bloody, and the date had been notched. As Officer Znajda and the hunter proceeded to the hunting camp, the hunter stopped his ATV and confessed that he had shot a large buck earlier in the day. The hunter said he had removed the tag so he could go out and try to shoot another one.
What did you learn? — Lt. Norm Floden of Perham reports two young men with their fathers and other family members were among those found to be transporting uncased firearms. Both young men had recently completed firearms safety training and said they remembered the law being taught in the course. Again, education is only as effective as people are willing to apply it.

Getting corny — CO Dan Starr, Tower, quipped that he thought his station had become an agricultural area after seeing all the grain in the woods during the firearm deer season.

A fine example you’re setting — On opening morning of the firearm season, CO Mark Fredin, Aurora, followed an ATV path and located a 13- and 14-year-old hunting together in the same stand. A pile of oats was used as bait in front of their stand. An adult — as required by law — did not accompany the 13-year-old. Fredin continued to follow the ATV path and came upon a 17-year-old also hunting over bait. Continuing on to the end of the path an adult was located and he, too, was hunting over oats. The adult admitted to placing all the bait. A fine hunting example this is of showing our youth hunting ethics and placing youth in a violation situation.

CO seizes handgun from juvenile — CO Mary Manning, Grand Marais, patrolled problem deer shining areas and made several vehicle stops, including one in which she seized a handgun from a juvenile. Parents are reminded to keep all guns securely locked up, not just “hidden” from children and teens.

How young is too young? — CO Jim Guida, Brainerd, found a 10-year-old in the field with a shotgun and slugs. His father was reminded that his son couldn’t hunt big game with his own firearm until he reaches the age of twelve and has completed a firearms safety course. The son was allowed and encouraged to observe, but not aid in the taking of a big game animal.

What would Mom think? — CO Jeff Humphrey, Willow River, found a first-time 12-year-old deer hunter hunting by himself over bait on public land with no compass or means of communication. He was dropped off in the morning and told he would be picked up after dark. After an interview with the juvenile and some searching, his dad was found to be hunting nearly two miles away, clearly out of sight and audible range.

The laws apply to everyone — CO Paul Kuske, Pierz, reports only one trespass complaint was handled over opening weekend. It involved an off-duty police officer who apparently felt posted “No Trespassing” signs didn’t apply to him.

No class — CO Jeff Humphrey, Willow River, found a first time, 12-year-old first hunter without a license and no Firearms Safety Certificate. The dad claimed he would have had to drive two hours to get the youth in a class since he couldn’t find any that weren’t filled up. The Pine City officer assisting explained that a class was available locally only 20 minutes from his home with plenty of room for more students!

Out of the mouths of 11-year-olds — CO Dean Olson, Rochester, reports trespassing continues to be a problem. One 11-year-old boy with his dad asked, “Why don’t those people go to firearms safety class and learn to be respectful?”

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