To the editor:
I know where the deer went. I chaired a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, where we ran down the process that led to our current deer woes in Central and East Central Minnesota.
Thirty hunters in a 166-mile radius of St Francis met just after dusk, and we started the night with a simple question: ‘Who saw a deer on the drive in?” Nobody raised a hand.
The stakeholder input process that adjusted our deer density goals in 2005 – 2006 is the problem.
It was a process ripe with agenda, and skewed towards lowering the deer herd statewide.
In 2005-2006 the state was divided into 15 regions with an average of eight hunting zones per region. Regional DNR biologists ‘selected’ 15 to 20 individuals to represent the region, and the voice of the stakeholders.
And on that board sat big agriculture, auto insurance interests, and foresters at levels far above their equitable interest in our deer density levels. And they likely voted across the board to lower the number deer in the state because it’s good for their business.
There were hunters in the room who were told if they had insufficient knowledge of the deer numbers in any of the eight zones, a simple ‘not applicable” or zero response would indicate no vote.
As a hunter, how many zones surrounding the immediate one you hunt do you have a working knowledge of where you can address with confidence the deer numbers? Most likely none. So you only voted for an increase or decrease in one zone. That means the hunters’ voices were left out and became nonexistent.
And so here we are eight years later, wondering what happened to the deer. They are dead. We shot them. It was likely by design and that will continue unless we drastically alter the stakeholder input process., starting this year in southeast Minnesota.
Let the DNR run the show with no voice of the hunter, and who will vote to increase our deer numbers? Nobody.
Board members from Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Quality Deer Management Association, and Minnesota Bowhunters Inc. sat in a room together and everyone agreed, it’s time for the deer herd to grow, and the stakeholder process to have better representation of the voice of the hunter.
We agreed a petition would be a simple start to bringing the voice of the hunter back to the process.
If you would like to help collect signatures for the petition, go to the MNBowhunters website and email the president. He will email it off for you to bring to the local archery or bait shop where we can begin collecting signatures.
“More deer, and stronger voice for the Minnesota Hunter.” That’s the simple tagline for the Minnesota Deer Density Initiative.