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Boreal Community Media

Weekly Conservation Officer Reports for Northeast Minnesota

Nov 07, 2023 11:07AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Boreal Community Media files

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - November 7, 2023

Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports the opening weekend of the regular firearms deer season saw some warm and wet weather with snow and rain mixed. Hunters reported seeing some deer sign and several harvested deer were checked. Violations included netting whitefish in a closed season, failure to return game fish, and angling without a license in possession.

CO Brent Ihnen (Ely #2) spent the week checking deer and small-game hunters. Additional time was spent patrolling for fishing and boating activity.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked the firearms deer opener with area officers. The harvest was extremely low in Cook County. Enforcement action was taken for transporting loaded firearms and license violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) reports that deer-hunter success was extremely abysmal for the few folks who hunted in Cook County. Hunters continue to express their displeasure on the low deer numbers and high frequency of wolf sightings throughout the area. Enforcement action was taken for transporting loaded firearms, non-toxic shot violations, and no license in possession.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked the week leading up to firearms deer opener and opening weekend. Hunter numbers were definitely down, and many commented on lack of deer and frequent wolf sightings. One hunter had an encounter with three wolves that ran to his deer shortly after the shot. After getting his deer back from the wolves and field dressing it, the wolves made quick work of the gut pile and then ran down the power line toward the sound of another gun shot. Enforcement action was taken for no PFD, hunting deer with the aid of bait, untagged deer, unregistered deer, hunter harassment, leaving equipment overnight in a WMA, and insufficient blaze orange. A ride-along was provided to a college law enforcement student.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked deer hunters and worked on trespass complaints. State park hunters along the lake shore saw some opportunities with deer gathering for winter. Blaze orange violations and off-hours ATV use were encountered. Beaver trappers are having success but dealing with early ice-up in some spots. Many inland lakes are starting to freeze over. Enforcement action was taken for big-game violations.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports checking very few hunters during the opening weekend of the firearm season. The hunters who were checked did not report seeing a deer.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked the firearms deer season opener with other officers along the North Shore. Deer were moving but most observed were does and fawns, with few bucks being seen. Murray investigated a case of hunter harassment and an illegal-trash-dumping complaint. Many area lakes were completely ice-covered this week but are completely unsafe for any form of travel at this time.

Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the 2023 firearms deer season brought a variety of weather, including cold, snow, and rain, which made for an interesting opener. Harvest was all over the board, with some people not seeing any deer to some camps seeing lots and being very successful. Enforcement action for the weekend included hunting over bait, loaded firearms, operating ATVs during closed hours, tagging issues, and other ATV violations.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working the 2023 rifle deer opener this past weekend. Many people took to the woods deer hunting this past weekend and reported having some success. Violations encountered this past weekend consisted of hunting over or with the aid of bait, operating ATVs during closed hours, and failing to validated tags properly.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) spent time taking care of end-of-the season equipment maintenance and readying other equipment for the ongoing seasons. The pinnacle of the week was the opener of the firearms deer season. Camps and cabins became areas of activity with folks happy to be in the north woods once again. A common topic of conversation was an overall lack of deer in the area, although pockets of success were noted. Whitefish netters were also contacted on area waterways, with marked success reported on Sunday. It appears water temperatures are at or nearing prime for the whitefish enter spawning areas. This also means the water temperatures are ripe for hypothermia for the unprepared.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports the fewest number of deer hunters he has seen in his career, and even fewer deer. He fielded numerous comments and complaints from hunters about no deer and abundant wolf numbers. Many deer camps were vacant. Area forest roads were checked, with little activity noted. The weekend rain further diminished hunting activities. Equipment work is ongoing.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily hunting activity in his station. Larson spent time checking deer hunters, whitefish netters, waterfowl hunters, and small-game hunters throughout the week. He checked many hunters over the opener of firearm deer season, with many reporting wolf sightings from the tree stand. He also personally observed a wolf on Birch Point of Lake Vermilion. Larson ran across violations such as failure to validate deer tag, no netting license in possession, no deer license in possession, invalid deer license, hunter harassment, leaving equipment in a wildlife management area unattended overnight, and failure to wear proper blaze orange.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked small-game and big-game activity. The firearms deer season opener left a lot to be desired for many hunters in the area as deer sightings were few and far between. Violations encountered included hunting over bait, trespassing, and illegal transport of game birds.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) made contact with a small-game hunter who had fallen on hard times and was found to be living out of his vehicle. He had also run out of fuel and was stranded on a minimum maintenance road. Zavodnik and local deputies provided the individual with resources for places stay and were also able to help him get his vehicle mobile again. Time was also spent making contact with several hunters attempting to take deer over bait.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring hunting, trapping, and ATV activity. Hunters taking part in firearms deer opener had limited success. Fewer deer hunters were encountered than in past years, and many normal hunting camps were unoccupied. Broughten also fielded calls regarding injured animals, firearms regulations, and dumped deer carcasses.

Cook vacant.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Jeff Humphrey (NE) worked the firearms deer opener in the Two Harbors area. Hunters were reporting a slow opener, with few deer being harvested or seen. Several traditional hunting camps were observed to be vacant this year. Humphrey assisted CO Murray with a decorative materials theft investigation. Wetland Conservation Act violations continue to be reported. Several ongoing cases were reviewed and updated.
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