Conservative deer season set; hunting licenses go on sale Aug. 1
Hunters can expect a conservative 2014 deer season designed to rebuild deer numbers across much of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
“Hunters should check the 2014 hunting regulations closely because only one deer can be harvested in 95 percent of the state,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the DNR. “To shoot a doe, hunters may have to apply for a permit in areas where they haven’t in the past and, in some places, no antlerless harvest will be allowed.”
In 69 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in seven permit areas and for some special hunts.
“Many hunters voiced concerns about current deer densities and their hunting experiences in recent years. We heard from hunters at the listening sessions we conducted, in the online comments we solicited and by contacting us directly,” McInenly said. “This past winter only added to those concerns so this year’s conservative approach will protect more antlerless deer, reduce the statewide harvest and allow the population to rebound.”
Northeastern Minnesota hunters will feel the greatest impact from a bucks-only season. In bucks-only areas, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any hunter, including those with archery or youth licenses. McInenly said that most of these areas are now below goal and that this year’s conservative approach is consistent with the DNR’s long-term commitment to manage deer populations at established goal levels.
Hunters can enter the lottery for antlerless permits beginning Friday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply is Thursday, Sept. 4. Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer.
Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.
Permit area breakdown
Bucks-only deer areas in 2014 are deer permit areas 108, 117, 118, 119, 122, 126, 127, 169, 176, 177, 178, 180, 181 and 199.
Lottery deer areas in 2014 are permit areas 101, 103, 105, 110, 111, 152, 155, 156, 159, 171, 172, 173, 179, 183, 184, 197, 203, 208, 213, 229, 234, 237, 238, 242, 246, 247, 250, 251, 252, 253, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.
Hunter choice deer areas in 2014 are permit areas 157, 201, 209, 210, 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 230, 232, 233, 235, 236, 239, 240, 241, 248, 249, 254, 255, 256, 257, 292, 293, 338, 339, 341, 342, 344, 345, 347 and 348.
Managed deer areas in 2014 are permit areas 114, 287 and 343.
Intensive deer areas in 2014 are permit areas 182, 346 and 349.
The DNR strongly advises hunters to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying. Current and up-to-date information is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. Information about deer management and upcoming deer population goal setting during the next two years is available at www.mndnr.gov/deer
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Regulation changes include Mille Lacs, spawn bags, bowfishing
Changes to special or experimental fishing regulations – including previously announced changes on Mille Lacs Lake – are among several that will be in effect when anglers head out for the 2014 Minnesota fishing opener, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Changes are summarized on page 19 of the 2014 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, which is available at any license agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.
New regulations for 2014 are listed below. Anglers are reminded to check online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing for the latest additions or corrections. Another change, involving small sacks of fish eggs called spawn bags, is not in the regulations booklet but is in effect for those trout fishing on Lake Superior and its tributaries.
Special regulations change on lakes
New or modified experimental or special regulations changes include those to:
• Mille Lacs Lake in Mille Lacs County, modified northern pike, smallmouth bass and night fishing regulations, Mille Lacs anglers can learn more about regulation changes at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
• Leech Lake in Cass County, modified walleye regulations.
• Stony Lake in Cass County, dropped largemouth bass regulations.
• Lake Thirteen in Cass County, modified bass regulation.
• Mukooda Lake in St. Louis County, added lake trout regulation.
Spawn bags allowed
The use of spawn bags in Lake Superior and its tributaries for trout fishing is now legal. Restrictions include:
• Eggs from legally taken and possessed trout harvested from Lake Superior or its tributaries below the posted boundaries may be used to make spawn bags. Those spawn bags from Lake Superior trout may only be used on Lake Superior and its tributaries below the posted boundaries – and no other location in the state.
• Spawn bags can be bought and sold only if the bags are made from either: fish eggs from a licensed aquaculture facility; or fish eggs legally taken from a source outside Minnesota that has been certified disease-free and are preserved and labeled under a Minnesota bait preservation permit. These certified commercial spawn bags can be used throughout the state.
Early bowfishing season added
A new early bowfishing season has been in effect for bullhead, sucker, redhorse and rough fish (page 67). The early season is open only on waters south of Highway 210 and only from a boat and only while on a lake or on the Mississippi, Minnesota or St. Croix rivers.
• In 2014, the early season runs from Monday, Feb. 24, to Friday, April 25.
• In 2015, early the season runs from Monday, Feb. 23, to Friday, April 24.
The regular statewide bowfishing season runs from April 26, 2014 to Feb. 22, 2015.
Sucker spearing season lengthened
The spearing season on sucker fish was extended and is now from the last Saturday in April through the last Sunday in February (page 66). Those dates for this season are Saturday, April 26, 2014, to Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Keep in mind that the season for spearing other rough fish species ends on the third Sunday in February, one week shorter than the season for suckers.
Spearing bans removed
The following lakes are open for dark house northern pike spearing during the open season (page 69, DNR Regs):
• Beers Lake in Otter Tail County.
• Big Mantrap Lake in Hubbard County.
• Cross Lake and its Snake River Flowage in Pine County.
• Deer Lake in Itasca County.
• Eagle Lake in Hennepin County.
• Lobster Lake in Douglas County.
• Moose Lake in Itasca County.
• North Star/Little North Star Lake in Itasca County.
• Lake Owasso in Ramsey County.
• Spider Lake in Itasca County.
• Sugar Lake in Wright County.
• West Battle Lake in Otter Tail County.
Anglers are reminded to check online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing for the latest
additions or corrections.
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Abundant walleyes await anglers on opener on Leech Lake
The 2014 fishing opener on Leech Lake is expected to be excellent, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Known as one of the state’s top 10 “fish factories,” Leech Lake will boast another year of high walleye abundance and healthy populations of northern pike, largemouth bass and other species frequently pursued by Leech Lake anglers.
This year, those targeting Leech Lake as their opener destination will also be pleased to find increased opportunity for walleye harvest. Beginning Saturday, May 10, a relaxed protected slot limit for walleye will be in effect allowing anglers to keep walleye up to 20-inches long. All walleye 20- to 26-inches long must be immediately returned to the water. The limit of four walleye with one longer than 26 inches allowed in possession has remained unchanged.
“The new regulation is intended to provide additional harvest opportunity while continuing to protect most of the mature female walleye in the population,” said Doug Schultz, Walker area fisheries supervisor. “The Leech Lake Management Plan provides for relaxing the existing protected slot limit if spawning walleye numbers were met.”
Quality fishing opportunities for species other than walleye will be plentiful. The northern pike population continues to be good. Anglers can look forward to catching northern pike 24 inches or larger. The size of yellow perch continues to be good, although anglers can expect to work a bit harder to reach a limit of yellow perch this season.
Good numbers of nice-sized largemouth bass and bluegills exist in Boy, Headquarters, Steamboat and Shingobee bays. Opportunities for large crappies and excellent muskie fishing should continue in 2014. Statewide regulations other than walleye apply for all species on Leech Lake.
To monitor changes in fishing pressure and harvest resulting from the new regulation, anglers will be asked about fishing success from May to September 2014 and December 2014 to March 2015. Anglers can expect to encounter creel clerks at public accesses and resorts.
“Angler cooperation with the brief survey is appreciated,” Schultz said. “It provides valuable information for managing the fishery.”
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Upper Red Lake’s summer walleye regulations unchanged for 2014
Regulations that allow Upper Red Lake anglers to keep larger walleye after June 15 will be in effect again for the 2014 open water season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Beginning Saturday, May 10, to Saturday, June 14, anglers must release all walleye 17- to 26-inches long.
Effective Sunday, June 15 to Sunday, Nov. 30, anglers may keep walleye less than 20 inches and must immediately release all walleye 20- to 26-inches long.
The possession limit for both periods is four fish and only one of those fish can be longer than 26 inches.
The more restrictive size limit is necessary for the early season when angler catch rates are high and mature walleye are extremely vulnerable. As the open water season progresses, catch rates and fishing pressure decline, reducing the impact of harvesting larger walleye.
Winter regulations will not be finalized until open water harvest is determined. Winter regulations will be announced in late summer and will be posted on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/fishingregs.
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Want to go fishing? DNR has a license to fit
Resident married couples can obtain an annual combination fishing license for $35, compared to $44 for two adult individual licenses, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Asking a spouse, child or friend to go fishing is one way to start a tradition, said Jenifer Wical, of the DNR’s outreach section.
“Most people won’t start fishing by themselves but they will if someone asks them to go,” Wical said.
Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online via mobile and desktop at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers, and cut their time between front door and fishing.
For children, a fishing license can be an investment in building a lifetime interest in the outdoors. Lifetime angling licenses for children age 3 and under are $304, while lifetime angling licenses for those age 16 to age 50 are $508.
Want to try fishing for a weekend? Purchase a 72-hour fishing license for $12, around the price of a movie. Teens ages 16 and 17 can buy annual fishing licenses for only $5, little more than the price of some smartphone apps. Kids under 15 are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations.
Time outdoors need not end at the boat access. Outdoors-savvy customers can buy hunting and fishing licenses in one fell swoop. A Sports license includes angling and small game for $38, while a Super Sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader) for $93.
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DNR adds 2 miles metro trout fishing opportunities along Vermillion
Metro anglers who want to stick close to home for the April 12 stream trout opener will have nearly two additional miles of shoreline to explore as a result of acquisitions made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Dakota County.
Half a mile north of Dakota County Road 66 along County 79, the DNR has acquired a 52-acre aquatic management area that straddles the main branch of the Vermillion River, protecting 4,100 feet of shoreline. Upland areas of the property include five acres of grasslands and 25 acres of woods.
Further east, a 62-acre acquisition now affords access to the south branch of the Vermillion River just south of County Road 66 and west of state Highway 52. That parcel includes 6,900 feet of shoreline, 25 acres of grassland and 20 acres of woodland. The south branch is a coldwater tributary to the Vermillion that provides rearing areas and offers refuge for trout, especially during hot summer weather.
Both properties provide habitat for pheasants, turkeys, ducks, doves, deer and other wildlife; they also will be open to hunting, trapping and wildlife watching. The DNR’s Fisheries section will continue to work with the DNR Wildlife section to manage upland areas.
“These properties are a great addition to the region’s outdoor recreation system, especially for busy metro anglers and hunters who may not always have time for a several-hour drive,” said T.J. DeBates, DNR’s east metro fisheries supervisor. “Acquisitions like these not only protect habitat, they also provide much needed public access.”
The two properties cost $384,200. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Money for the properties also came from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife. Dakota County also contributed to the acquisitions.
The Vermillion River has gained notoriety over the past 10 years as a trophy brown trout stream within 45 minutes of a major urban area. As recently as 1960, though, the stream was considered unfit for any game fish due to poor water quality from industrial wastes and land use practices. The river’s comeback has been the result of local, regional and state efforts to improve water quality.
Since 2005, the DNR has acquired land protecting nearly 10 miles of shoreline along the Vermillion for habitat and public access for fishing and hunting. The DNR also has worked with local government and nonprofit conservation organizations on several stream restoration projects along the Vermillion.
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National Sports Center in Blaine announces dates for 2014-15 outdoor expos at the NSC campus
BLAINE, Minn. (March 26, 2014) – The National Sports Center (NSC) announced the dates for its three outdoor expos that make up the NSC Outdoors series for the 2014-15 season.
The series kicks off with the third annual Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo, November 14-16, 2014.
After New Year’s, the series continues with the Minnesota Deer Classic, March 6-8, 2015.
The series concludes with Tom Helgeson’s Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo, March 20-22, 2015.
All the outdoor shows will be held at the Schwan Center, on the campus of the National Sports Center, 1750 105th Ave. NE, in Blaine 55449.
About the National Sports Center:
The National Sports Center (NSC) is a 600-acre multi-sport facility located in Blaine, Minnesota. The campus includes the Schwan Super Rink; an 8,500-seat soccer stadium; the Schwan Center meeting and convention building; a multi-faceted family golf center, the National Youth Golf Center, which features the 18-hole Victory Links course; an indoor Sports Hall with a FieldTurf field; 150-bed residence hall; and 52 soccer fields. The facility hosts nearly 300 events annually, and has welcomed approximately 32 million visitors since its opening. The NSC generates over $40 million in annual out-of-state economic impact.
NSCtv airs new episodes each week
NSCtv is the weekly behind-the-scenes video show highlighting events, programs, athletes and people at the National Sports Center. NSCtv can be accessed by visiting the NSC website (www.nscsports.org) and clicking the NSCtv link on the home page.
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Mille Lacs walleye regulation to stay the same
DNR extends night ban; increases smallmouth bass, pike opportunities
As part of a plan to increase angling opportunity, improve walleye numbers and stay within the state’s 1837 Treaty safe harvest allocation, the Department of Natural Resources will modify fishing regulations at Mille Lacs Lake for the 2014 season.
The walleye daily and possession limit remain unchanged. The limit will be two walleye from 18- to 20-inches, except one longer than 28 inches may be taken. The night fishing ban, enforced from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., will begin Monday, May 12, and will be extended through Monday, Dec. 1, rather than ending in mid-June.
The 2014 walleye safe harvest level is 60,000 pounds. Of this amount, 42,900 pounds is allocated to the state and 17,100 pounds is allocated to the eight Chippewa bands with 1837 Treaty harvest rights.
“The new regulations reflect our commitment to improving the walleye fishery as quickly as possible with as little harm to the local economy as possible,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
When new regulations go into effect on Saturday, May 10, anglers will be able to keep 10 northern pike, of which only one may be longer than 30 inches. This increases the limit by seven. Anglers also will be able to fish for northern pike for a longer period of time. The close of the season will be extended from mid-February to the last Sunday in March. The northern pike spearing ban on Mille Lacs also will be removed.
Similarly, the smallmouth bass harvest season will be extended and limits relaxed. The smallmouth bass season on Mille Lacs will start May 10 and be exempted from the statewide catch-and-release regulation that begins in mid-September. This means anglers may harvest smallmouth bass from the opener until the last Sunday in February. Anglers may keep six fish, only one of which may be longer than 18 inches. The previous regulation allowed anglers to keep six fish 17- to 20-inches, only one of which could be longer than 20 inches.
“More liberal northern pike and smallmouth bass regulations speak to the fact these species can withstand additional pressure because their populations are at or near record highs,” Pereira said. “The current walleye regulation and the extended night fishing ban will protect upcoming year classes of young walleye, adult spawning stock and help ensure the harvest stays within the safe harvest level.”
Pereira said the suite of regulations reflects significant fish population changes at Mille Lacs. Walleye numbers are at a 40-year low. Northern pike numbers are at record highs. The smallmouth bass population has been increasing since the 1990s. Tullibee and perch populations, both important forage species, are relatively low.
Fish populations likely are being influenced by many factors, including clearer water, climate change, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, Eurasian watermilfoil and a treaty management approach that focused too much walleye harvest on too narrow a size range of fish.
“Mille Lacs is a system under change and portions of that change began even prior to the treaty management that began in the late 1990s,” said Pereira. “The good news is that we have more than enough spawning walleye and a history of solid egg and fry production. What we need is for the walleye that hatch to grow into strong year classes for anglers to catch. That hasn’t happened since 2008. That’s why we are focused on protecting small walleye and our ample but declining walleye spawning stock.”
Pereira added that the agency is also committed to the long-term protection of the lake’s trophy smallmouth and trophy northern pike fisheries.
The DNR’s approach to managing Mille Lacs is currently under review by a panel of national fish management experts. The agency convened the panel earlier this year as part of a broad approach to involve outside experts and citizens in agency decision making.
Information about panel experts and Mille Lacs management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
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DNR proposes to extend fall southeastern Minnesota trout season
The fall catch-and-release trout season in all of southeastern Minnesota would be extended from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15 if changes now being considered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are adopted.
Other proposed changes include allowing catch-and-release angling on designated trout streams in southeastern Minnesota state parks from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31 and extending the winter trout fishing season in some southeastern Minnesota streams to all designated trout streams in southeastern Minnesota.
The proposed new rules and repeal of others will be adopted without a public hearing unless 25 signatures requesting one are received in writing by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28.
Comments or questions on the proposed changes and written requests for a public hearing should be submitted to Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.
Complete information on the proposed changes and formal notice of their pending adoption are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/input/rules/fisheries/se-mn-trout.html.
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DNR, MDHA to conduct deer listening sessions statewide
Listening sessions on deer population management scheduled later this winter throughout Minnesota will provide citizens an opportunity to voice their perspectives.
The Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) will co-sponsor the meetings. Meeting dates and locations will be announced later this month.
“We’ve been hearing from hunters who are concerned about current deer numbers and potential population impacts as a result of this winter,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “These listening sessions provide an opportunity for direct interaction and communication.”
The sessions will be open to the general public. Anyone interested in deer management is encouraged to participate. In addition to the public sessions, comments will be accepted on the DNR’s deer management Web page at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the DNR and bring this discussion out to the different regions of the state,” said Mark Johnson, MDHA executive director. “In many areas of the state, our members are seeking changes to the deer hunting regulations that will increase the state’s deer population. We plan to work with the DNR to increase deer numbers in those areas and improve hunter satisfaction.”
Johnson said changes in harvest strategies are needed in the short-term. For the long-term, MDHA also will continue their work with the DNR and others on efforts to enhance deer habitat.
Information on the upcoming listening sessions will be announced to the media and posted online at www.mndnr.gov/deer and www.mndeerhunters.com. Individuals who subscribe to the DNR’s email lists for deer management and hunting information will be notified. To become an email subscriber, sign up online at www.mndnr.gov/emailupdates.
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Minnesota concludes wolf hunting and trapping season
Minnesota concluded its second wolf season when the Department of Natural Resources closed the east-central zone on Saturday, Dec. 28.
A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons. The harvest target was 220 wolves.
"Wolf season target harvest limits are set conservatively to not negatively affect Minnesota's wolf population long term," said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. "The targets for each hunting zone are used as triggers to close the season. Hunters and trappers have another full day in the field after a zone's closure is announced."
Minnesota's wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter. The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population prior to pups being born. Wolf populations rapidly increase in the spring when pups are born and decline at various rates annually depending on mortality factors in addition to the wolf season.
The DNR will complete an assessment of Minnesota's wolf population status this winter and summarize data from the 2013 wolf season before setting the 2014 wolf season.
Additional information about wolves is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.
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DNR to fly deer and elk surveys
Pending suitable snow cover, the Department of Natural Resources plans to fly white-tailed deer population surveys from December through March in central and southeastern Minnesota.
“In the transition zone between agricultural and forested lands, which generally stretches from the northwest to southeast across Minnesota, we use aerial surveys to recalibrate the deer population model,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These survey flights help us make decisions on deer permit area designations that achieve our population goals.”
DNR pilots will fly low-level helicopter surveys in 18 deer permit areas during daylight hours at an altitude of approximately 200 feet.
Areas targeted to be flown include:
- Deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 229, 239 and 241 in Becker, Benton, Clay, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Wright counties.
- Deer permit areas 341-343 and 345-349 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Aerial elk surveys using both an airplane and helicopter are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota. The flights are conducted annually during winter.
Questions about survey flights should be directed to the DNR’s farmland wildlife research office in Madelia, 507-642-8478, the northwest regional wildlife office in Bemidji, 218-308-2651 or the Rochester area wildlife office, 507-206-2859.
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