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Minnesota’s Governor

Uber powers.

The Governor of Minnesota has tremendous power over state agencies, our DNR included.  One needs to look no further than Governor Dayton’s secretly negotiated Mille Lacs treaty deal to witness abuse of this power.  Politics currently have a vice like grip on Minnesota game management.

We need a Governor that will add accountability to the process and give the power back to the people.

Local interests should dictate local deer herd shape and size.  Not the deer hunters of MN, but the people of Minnesota.

“The arrogance we’re seeing in state agencies is pretty outrageous, really, whether it’s the DNR (Department of Natural Resources), the Pollution Control Agency or the Met Council, the attitude is that their job is to direct and control people, rather than serve people,”

When called or emailed on the topic of deer/fish management, only one candidate for Governor has taken the time to meet and discuss these issues with the deer hunters and Mille Lacs interests in Minnesota, and if we can make it an issue for the November 2018 election, we may gain some legitimacy in MN game management.


MNBowhunters Inc supports Jeff Johnson’s view on the subject.  We are hopeful the topic gains traction.  We are letting you know that he is the only candidate who has shown any interest in the topic.  Reach out to him with your questions and help us make this an issue for the 2018 Gubernatorial race.



Hit him on Jeff Johnson Facebook, or email him at to let him know you are interested in this aspect of his campaign.


2018 MN Sportsmens Platform

A Path for Real Change

Nobody has more say in Minnesota game management than Minnesota’s Governor.  The Governor tells state agencies, including our DNR, what they can and can not do.  Our current Governors abuse of this system has left a bad taste in the Sportsmens mouth.  As an outspoken critic of MN DNR policy, I have been asked to help develop a Gubernatorial Platform for changes to Minnesota game management.

Secret treaty deals are not good game management. Closed door deals are bad wildlife policy.

2018 may see this ‘Sportsmens Platform’ as the deciding issue of the Governors race.


‘Please send me your policy related ideas on what should be initiated and any rules or regulations that could be eliminated to defend a general concept of optimally developing and managing MN’s natural resources for the use and enjoyment of all MN residents.
The more ideas the better. Timing is an important aspect of a statewide campaign and that we may not be able to use every idea from the outset and may need to incorporate different components as the messaging of the campaign moves forward.’
Below is an example of my ideas for changes to deer management.  All of these ideas and more are possible with a willing Governor.
– County Deer Advisory Committees established to dictate herd size and shape.  Each county will blind select a committee representing all local interests to decide herd management.  DNR will manage for the locally decided goals.  (herd size, age structure etc).  Those locally affected by the herd will control decisions over the county deer herd and mitigate local damage.
 – Reallocate $10 million dollars from the DNR budget to private industry for herd monitoring statewide.  This money will be used to collect legitimate herd monitoring metrics the County Committees use in their decision making process.  These data metrics can be used to double check herd modeling, or they can be used independent of any population modeling.  Transparency.  Accountability to announced goals.
– Creation of 6 or more limited draw trophy deer hunting areas in the state of Minnesota.  Buck tags limited to create trophy hunting destinations.  Doe numbers managed by the county committees.  There is zero reason Minnesota does not have select trophy opportunities for its gun and bowhunting public.
– Press Releases from the DNR will be fact checked by private industry before being released to the public.  DNR media releases will be fact checked by private industry.
This is how Government is supposed to work.  You collect input from the public and legitimately manage for their desires.  The smoky backroom deals that are dictating policy need to go.  If your group would like to be a part of developing this ‘Sportsmens Platform’ please let me know.  We can realize real change in 2018.


Deer zone estimates for 2015 stakeholder meetings

How the Magic Eraser has eroded the deer experience in Minnesota

Brook Johnson February 12, 2015,  email to Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations manager:


Steve Merchant, DNR Big Game,

A change to the deer team stakeholder process this year has the DNR providing a base estimated herd number that we will be voting increases and decreases to.  At the Hinckley meeting, Leslie McInenly stated that number was not available yet as WSI (winter severity index) had to be calculated.  With our first meeting scheduled for February 26th (14 days) I doubt WSI will change much from the zero it is at now.

I am requesting you release these numbers immediately so I can share my take with the other stakeholder groups across MN.  Transparency has been an issue with deer management in MN and there is no reason you can not provide the numbers I am requesting.

The DNR’s ability to go back in time and change these baseline numbers has been used as a tool to lower the herd further than announced at the last round of these stakeholder meetings, and I would like a chance to share what I have found with teams across the state before their first team meeting.

I have attached a video link that explains to the public how DNR baseline data manipulation has stolen the herd from us, and I want the teams equipped to get a chunk back.

Brooks Johnson
East Central Stakeholder


Email to Leslie McInenly, DNR


 I have been reviewing some of the info from the SE MN stakeholder presentation, and would like the chance to review any info to be used before it is presented to the stakeholders this winter.  I have issue with a lot of the ‘facts’ presented.
As an example, the farm data needs a good tweak.  I believe we have a program in place to reimburse farmers.   That should be shared.  Your report of $3 million in deer damage is not science based, but rather a guess from area farmers.  Even if the number is accurate, it is only 3 parts of 2,000.  Not very significant.  Wisconsin DNR tracks deer damage and they only had $1.2 million deer damage statewide in 2012.  Wisconsin has almost twice the deer we have in a smaller area.

If we are going to use grower issues as a concern for deer numbers, we owe it to the hunters of MN to legitimately track complaints, and verify they are from deer and not bear, raccoon, geese or cranes.

An Indiana study showed the bulk of ‘deer’ complaints were actually from raccoons.
I have similar issues with the deer vehicle statistics, estimated herd trend graphics, forestry, survey interpretation, and I am sure to have more after I review the recorded meetings.If we want the stakeholders meetings to be truly legitimate, we need several things to happen.
– We need a decent team
– The team needs accurate information to make an informed decision
– We need the DNR to step forward and identify the maximum number of pre fawn deer they will allow voted in, with science based reasons

Critics of the stakeholder process argue it is ripe with agenda and manipulated to reach predetermined goals. None of the above requests are out of line, and would show the DNR to be working with the hunters of MN in setting deer goals.

If you want the critics of the process appeased, please consider working with us to change the process and further legitimize it. We have enough time to make the process better in 2015 and 2016.

Brooks Johnson


East Central MN Zone Designations

July 7, 2014

From: Brooks Johnson

To: Leslie McInenly, DNR



When I opened my inbox this morning, I had a pleasant surprise from my area wildlife manager…

“For Permit Areas – 157,221,222,225,227,&236 – will be Hunters Choice.”

I have to tip my hat to your crew for the harvest decisions in East Central MN. Hunters Choice will help the numbers to build again.

Thanks for taking our concerns into consideration, and opting for a conservative route for this falls deer harvest.

I know many will complain that they are only allowed one deer, and the deer leadership of MN will have your back in helping to explain why.

Thanks again,

Brooks Johnson

Meeting with DNR Mid-February; Petitions Due Feb. 7

Some have been asking when the petitions should be back in. I would like to have the first round back by Feb 7th.

I am meeting in St Paul mid February with several key DNR figures and several legislators. I want to collect the signatures so I have enough time to fill out the 100 per county our elected asked for.

The data we have compiled is incredible. Harvest level drops, deer/vehicle statistics, crop depredation complaints, aerial deer count frequency history, adult deer per hunter at goal, regional biologists altering stakeholder goals, and hunter satisfaction surveys showing severe dissatisfaction with the deer herd.

Even in SE MN the satisfaction with deer numbers has dropped from 66% in 2005 to 49% in 2012.  And I know it sunk further last fall.  My surveys show a 22% satisfaction rating with deer numbers.

We are still sorting the data, but I strongly believe we have the ability to make timely and intelligent change to areas of the state in time for the 2014 season. We have enough strong science to guide us.

I plan to hold a ‘MN Deer Group Day’ to review all of the info, and try work an action plan for change.  Knowledge is power and there is a lot to share with the people who assume the role ‘Voice of the Hunter’ in MN.

It’s not too late to collect a fistful of signatures to build a stronger voice for the initiative.         Download Petition:  PDF      MS Word

Send what you have back by February 7th to:

519 E River St
Monticello MN 55362

 –  Brooks Johnson

MN Deer Density Goals by Zone and Number of Hunters – You will be surprised!

Some had questioned my statement that at goal, many permit areas would have fewer adult deer than hunters.
So we made a map. View Full Page Map

Density goal numbers we used were 10% lower than what the DNR reports because some regional biologists choose to manage the herd at lower levels than St Paul DNR reports.  (Little Falls area as one example).

These numbers do not include the additional archery and muzzle loader pressure.  Firearms season only.

Densities at these levels will bleed our ranks.   People will simply quit hunting.  It’s happening already.  It has to stop.

–  Brooks Johnson

Comments about the St Paul Pioneer Press Jan. 19, 2014 Deer Hunting Article

There was an article in the St Paul Pioneer press yesterday.  I could not ignore some of the comments.

Blue font are quotes pulled from a 1/18/2014 Pioneer Press article.

Leslie McInenly, the state’s top deer manager, said “it’s fair to question the goals” the agency sets for various deer hunting zones throughout the state. But when it comes to Johnson’s specific claims against the agency — Johnson alleges one area has more hunters than adult deer — McInenly said Johnson is either improperly applying DNR data or missing the nuances of deer management.

Brooks reply:

Beau Liddel, DNR Regional Biologist in Little Falls has the deer density goals for zone 222 at 10.8 deer per square mile.  The zone measures 413 square miles.   At goal that is 4,460 adult deer.  (St Paul DNR reports the deer density goal number at 12 deer per square mile, or 4,956 adult deer at goal.  No one really knows which number is used in the field ). And 5,100 firearms hunters.  And another 1,000 (estimate) bow and muzzleloader hunting.   No matter how you slice it, that is more hunters than adult deer.

“My initial intent was to make the committee members’ names public,” she (McInenly) said, referring to committees of hunters, landowners, farmers and others that recommend whether the deer population in a given area should increase or decrease. “But there is a danger that we might lose some people as a result of the heat on this issue.”


It’s unclear under what legal basis, if any, the DNR could withhold the identities of committee members, whom the agency picks. Johnson said he wants the names made public.

Brooks reply:

When asked why the goals are so low and there are so few deer, the DNR will answer ‘The stakeholders asked for it’.  No hunter I know would feel one adult deer per 60 acres is adequate.  We manage areas of the state for densities identical to WI CWD zones.  The closed door 2006 process should never be repeated.  The process had an agenda to lower deer numbers, and it was taken too far.  Its destroying the quality of the hunt in MN.  The voice of the hunter will be represented in the next go round.  There is absolutely no way the hunters of MN are going to allow the process that led to these numbers to continue. 

It’s hard to know how widespread the criticism is among the 500,000-strong deer-hunting public.

Brooks reply:


It’s not difficult.  You simply ask the hunter.  But the DNR has not run a hunter satisfaction survey in Central Minnesota since 2005.  So I did one myself.  Took me 30 minutes and cost me $24 through Survey Monkey.  I borrowed an email list of Sportsmen from a colleague.  I had never contacted any of the names on the list, they were sent no info or propaganda.  They received the exact same questions and given the exact same choices as asked in the 2005 DNR survey.  I wanted to compare 2013 to 2005.  And the answers are disturbing.

In 2005, 77% of the hunters surveyed either strongly or slightly agreed with the statement “I am satisfied with the number of deer I see while hunting.”  For 2013 that number has dropped to 23%.  A 70% decline.  But the DNR does want to act for the 2014 season. 

The DNR needs to make changes for the 2014 season.  You simply can not ignore the cries for help from the stakeholder group that funds the hunting side of the DNR. 

Brooks Johnson

Deer Hunter Satisfaction Survey Results!

I know I have said it before, but timely hunter surveys are an important tool for monitoring the deer herd.  Many areas of the state have been neglected since 2005.

Trappers are surveyed every year, duck hunters the same.
I took it upon myself to start an email survey using a email list of MN sportsmen I borrowed from a colleague.  I know none of the people on the list and have never sent them any info or propaganda.

I took one question/statement word for word from the DNR 2005 hunter satisfaction survey and asked it of my survey group.  The question was:  ‘I am satisfied with the number of deer I see while hunting.’

In 2005 77% agreed with this statement

In 2014 23% agreed with this statement

So, for this time period, statewide we have had:

– a 46% drop in harvest

– a 70% drop in hunter satisfaction

– a 10% drop in estimated deer numbers according to quotes from Lou Cornicelli.

Not possible.  The deer are not there!

– Brooks

My Deer Density Initiative Interview Appears in Star-Tribune!

My interview with Doug Smith appeared in his article today.  The article includes some input from DNR as well as a link to the MBI video and one from DNR.  – Brooks
(Article Link at Star-Tribune)