With more than 475,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2008 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 8.
Deer licenses are available at approximately 1,800 license agents statewide or by phone at 1-888-MN-LICENSE (665-4236). There is a $3.50 convenience fee for telephone service. Hunters who purchase licenses by phone will receive their deer tags by mail, which can take three to five days.
Staff members from the DNR Information Center and License Center in St. Paul will work extended hours next weekend to handle additional phone calls from deer hunters and license agents. Phone lines will be open on Friday, Nov. 7, until 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov.8, from 8 a.m. to noon.
The DNR Information Center phone number is 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
Hunters continue donating venison to food shelves
Hunters again can donate venison to food shelves at no cost this year because of changes to the venison donation program managed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), with assistance from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Concerns about lead fragments surfaced earlier this year when tests conducted by MDA showed that some venison in food shelves contained some lead. The discovery of those fragments resulted in the removal of all hunter-harvested venison from Minnesota food shelves.
MDA venison tests showed that lead fragments tended to be more prevalent in ground venison. The results of a DNR bullet fragmentation study show that copper bullets (and lead bullets fully jacketed with copper) fragment less than lead bullets.
Hunters may donate to the program when purchasing a deer license by voluntarily giving $1, $3, or $5 to the program. Any interested individual also can give by visiting one of 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) agents statewide.
To donate a deer, hunters must adhere to the following guidelines:
- Only whole carcasses with the hide on can be donated; processors will not accept cut and wrapped meat or portions of carcasses.
- Information such as permit area of harvest and Minnesota DNR number will be collected for tracking purposes.
Processors can only accept carcasses for donation that are:
- Free from signs of illness.
- Free of visible decomposition or contamination.
- Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.
- Processors will reject deer with extensive shot damage or that appear to have been mishandled in any way.
New regulations designed to reduce the frequency of lead fragments in meat and inform people that hunter-harvested may contain lead fragments include:
- All donated venison must be processed into whole cuts - no ground venison will be accepted.
- Participating processors and food shelves must attend a training seminar on preventing contamination.
- All product donated through the venison donation program must be
labeled, and the labeling must include the identification number or name of the processing plant where the meat was processed.
- A lead advisory statement will be distributed along with the donated venison; in it, the Minnesota Department of Health will recommend that food shelf users not feed the venison to children under 6 or to pregnant women.
Hunters are strongly advised to contact the processor prior to donating the deer. The list of processors accepting deer will be continually updated as more processors register.
More details on the venison donation program, as well as a list of participating meat processors, are available online at http://mndnr.gov/hunting/deer/donation. Results of a study designed to give hunters information about bullet fragmentation tendencies is available at http://mndnr.gov/lead.
DNR reminds hunters of tree stand safety following five recent accidents
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges hunters to follow safety rules when using tree stands, following five accidents this fall during the early antlerless deer season.
In one incident, CO Todd Langevin of Center City responded to an emergency call of a deer hunter who had been shot in the leg. The hunter had shot himself after climbing into a poorly constructed permanent deer stand.
“The hunter did not unload his firearm before climbing into the
tree,” Langevin said. “He also did not use a haul line but rather a belt looped through the trigger guard. The hunter was transported to a local hospital where he’s being treated for his injuries.”
“Nationwide, one in three hunting accidents involves a tree stand,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, education program coordinator. “As with most hunting accidents, tree stand accidents can be avoided by following a few simple safety rules, including the Three Point Rule.”
The Three Point Rule recommends that hunters always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving. This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving. Be cautious when rain, frost, ice or snow cause steps to become slippery, and always check the security of the step before placing your weight on it.
The DNR also encourages hunters to practice the following tree stand safety tips:
- never carry equipment with you while you are climbing. Use haul lines to raise or lower gear - and make sure guns are unloaded and broadheads covered before moving
- always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system, when you are in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a tree stand
- a safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than a foot always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use
- check permanent tree stands every year before hunting from them, and replace any worn or weak lumber
- inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts before each use.