Brooks' Blog

Princeton Archery at Game Fair

Princeton Archery will be running the aerials at Game Fair this weekend.  Last weekend we helped the Foley Archery Club raise almost $1,000 for their program.  Come on out to Game Fair and shoot some aerial targets to help fund local archery programs!

We have gear for all ages!

Deer Planning Team Votes

Ticks now join moose, cars, cwd, crops, and trees as reason for fewer deer

Discussion on draft strategy 6.1.2:

“Partner with the MN Department of Health to develop information on the interaction and mitigation of deer and human health concerns, specifically Lyme disease”

• Members discussed whether reductions in deer populations could meaningfully reduce the incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses in humans.

o The representative from the Department of Health cited studies showing that when deer were reduced to fewer than 8 per square mile, there was evidence that tick populations also declined; it is unclear, however, whether this translated to a reduction in the incidence of disease in humans.

o Another member cited studies showing that reduction of deer populations in residential neighborhoods was correlated with reductions of Lyme disease in humans.

o The committee took a vote:  9 members voted to keep the strategy in place; 8 voted to eliminate it.  Not the 75% majority the DNR seeks, but a majority vote none the less.

And the seats representing hunters are silent on the topic.  Just like the DNR groomed them to be.  Its a hosejob, and it when it is penned the hunters will get the shaft.

MN Deer Permit designations available online

...Bucks only - Intensive harvest, look up your zone

The MN DNR has released the deer zone designations for 2017.  Antlerless harvest is managed to grow or shrink the herd on a zone by zone basis.  If you want more deer you shoot fewer ladies.  Too many deer means more doe tags, if we want to grow the herd we issue fewer.  In theory.

Buck harvest is the number one gauge of herd size on a zone by zone basis.  It is far from perfect but it is collected data.  I personally believe we need more data that we can use to double check the model (3rd model since the 2015 deer management audit), but none of the other deer groups seem to care.  Data would add accountability to publicly announced goals.

Click here to see info on your DPA and what the harvest designation is.

MN DNR interactive DPA map


61.7 Pound Bighead Carp Story

Amunrud bags a big one.

By Nick Amunrud

On Sunday June 4th I was planning on spending the day fishing. However, after checking two of my minnow traps from a creek just north of the Iverson Tree Farms LLC, and only having one small bullhead and a crayfish, I realized that I did not have a productive day of fishing in store for me after all. Instead, I determined that it would be a good day to shoot carp, and thankfully, I always keep a Mathews Mission bow equipped with an AMS bowfishing rest and reel in my truck. Upon arriving at the gravel pit and completing my nearly daily patrol for trespassers, I made my way to a shallow bay where I usually see a high congregation of bigmouth buffalo as well as several common carp. Right away, I was able to count over 30 bigmouth buffalo within 20 yards of where I was standing and was able to connect on two buffalo before the rest swam away. I decided to keep walking along shore to see if there were any more carp that would present decent shot opportunities, and after walking roughly 30 yards along the bank, I noticed a small buffalo stirring up sediment only two feet from shore. I was in the process of raising and pulling back the bow when I noticed a shadow of what appeared to be a very large but light colored bigmouth buffalo slowly swimming straight towards me.

Big, big, bighead

I originally thought the light coloration was due to the fish beginning to die of old age. It also appeared to be covered in weeds, and I clearly remember seeing a large eye protruding from the side of its head. When it turned broadside between 18 and 20 yards, I knew that I had limited time to take a shot before it disappeared again. Fortunately, I was able to make a decent shot not too long after three thirty in the afternoon. As soon as the arrow struck it, I grabbed the line, dropped the bow, tossed my phone out of my pocket, and started gradually working the massive fish towards me. Even though I had just brought my bow into the Mankato Scheels on Memorial Day to have the draw weight increased to 54 pounds, I could tell that the arrow wasn’t more than a couple inches into the fish which made me nervous about losing it. After several minutes, I had the carp within a couple feet of shore, and by this time, I knew the arrow wasn’t going to stay in much longer so I got into the water and was able to grab the arrow and keep pressure on the barbs until I was able to maneuver the bighead between the shore and myself. Soon after this was accomplished, the arrow slipped out, and I was forced to jump on top of the carp in nearly a foot and a half of water. Thankfully, the large and powerful fish had lost most of its energy by this point, and I was able to wrestle it the final couple feet to shore. Once I had the fish secured on shore at 3:45pm and was able to get a good look at it, I was absolutely in awe at its impressive size. I was unable to weigh it on the spot due to it maxing out our 50 pound electronic scale, but an hour and a half later I was able to weigh it at just over 64 pounds and measured it three times at 50.75 inches long. By this point the fish had sat out in the hot sun the entire time and had lost a significant amount of blood. Sadly, I still did not realize the full importance of this fish and had it sitting on my tailgate out in the sun until I finally put it in a large garbage bag and set it in a trough of cold water at 9:25pm. The MNDNR took their measurements almost two days after it had been shot and came up with an official weight of 61.7 pounds and official length of 47.5 inches. I was informed that the whole fish had dehydrated considerably by this point, which made accurate measurements difficult. Overall, I learned a lot from this experience and can reflect fondly upon it when I ignore all of the frustrating events that occurred post reporting it to the DNR.

MN Deer Advisory Team Votes the hunters voice absent?

The group our DNR hand picked to advise on the deer plan voted 15-4 last week to support a statewide deer feeding ban.

MN Outdoor News front page this week

While a survey of the rejected team applicants yielded a much different result.




MDHA voted against the ban, but if they don’t go legislative to oppose the ban, the founding issue of the organization may be queered.  My guess is they won’t actively oppose the ban.  They don’t like to butt heads with the DNR.

Yesterday it was baiting.  Today its all deer feeding.  Mineral licks will be close behind.  Will food plots be next?

Special MN Summer Deer Hunts Open Soon

...but you will never know where

The summer deer hunting season is almost upon us, and soon many will take to the field to shoot the free depredation tags they got from their area wildlife managers.  They often hunt at night because its easier to target deer when they are on their feet.  But you can’t find out where the hunts will take place, or how many deer will be shot because we don’t really track that in Minnesota.

You passed him as a fork and he made it through the winter. Will he make it through the summer deer season?

Area managers can hand out summer deer tags to interests that can demonstrate need.  Browsed trees, browsed ag field etc.  If the deer do damage, they may be summer targets.  I get it.

But the information on who gets tags and how many sits in your area managers desk drawer.  No annual records are compiled.  No data base for you to see if your neighbor is one of the shooters.

Funny story relayed to me one day about a conversation between a couple of area landowners.  One was very excited about all the young bucks they had passed last fall.  He had high hopes for some bigger bucks in the woods this fall.   Until he was told that a neighboring landowner was issued 7 buck tags because they rub his trees.  No doe tags, but 7 buck tags

It happens more than you think.  Or does it?

MN CWD Legitimacy

Rhymes. Sort of.

It widely accepted that CWD positive deer are more likely to be hit by cars.

In 2016 over 50% of Pennsylvania CWD positives were car killed deer.

In 2016 Minnesota DNR tested only 30 car killed deer.

Why is our MN DNR not testing car killed deer?

Why should we approve spending $1.5 million per year testing for CWD when our DNR ignores the most likely positives?


Position on Deer License Increases

The funders tire of the blunders.

Position Statement:  MNBowhunters Inc opposes any increase to the cost of a Minnesota deer license until the written deer plan addresses all of the issues presented in the legislative audit and hunting is included in the plan.


In 2015 the deer hunters of Minnesota sent thousands of hand signed signatures to the Office of the Legislative Auditor requesting transparency and accountability from the MN DNR deer team.  Unprecedented public response led to a legislative audit of our DNR deer management system.  The legislative audit produced numerous recommendations for change and shortcomings in Minnesota deer management.  The DNR response to the audit was the states first written deer plan.

It has come to our attention that the DNR has no plan to include hunting in the pending written deer plan.  No metrics of hunter satisfaction.  No metrics of hunter effort.  No discussion or attention to hunter desired issues.  Deer leaders of the state recognize the deer are managed for all the people of our state, and that hunters do not get to dictate deer management, but we feel those that provide significant funding for that management deserve proportionate attention.


MN deer hunter satisfaction has dropped from a peak of 88% to below 30%.  We feel it prudent to delay the fee increases until the DNR shows us written plans to address the above noted shortcomings.


Brooks Johnson

President MNBowhunters Inc

94% of Public Input from Deer Hunters

...but hunting will not be addressed in the deer plan.

In January of 2015 the MN DNR announced they would be creating a written deer plan.

In the fall of 2016 they started the process.

In the spring of 2017 they announced hunting will not a part of the written plan.

94% of the public input they received about shaping the plan came from deer hunters.  But the issues we want addressed will not be tackled when writing the plan.

Deer hunter satisfaction has dropped from a high of 88% to below 30%.  The deer plan won’t be addressing that.

Will the deer groups of Minnesota allow this to happen?  I have seen zero resistance.  I have my hunch.


Will there be CWD testing in MN next year?

I hope not.

In 2016 the MN DNR emptied our deer feeding/disease account spending $600,000 on CWD testing in SE Minnesota.

Only deer in zone 3 were tested.

They did not test the ‘high risk’ animals that are hit by cars or found dead.  Our state agencies did pick lots of these higher risk deer and dump them on public lands, a known way to spread CWD.

We did ban carcass imports, but we did not request any help from other agencies or spend any cash to enforce the carcass ban. We did not spend the $400 per week to rent blinking road signs or similar to let hunters know there was a carcass ban.  Dirty carcasses from states east, west, and south of us rolled across state lines to be dumped in the woods, a known way to spread CWD.  Hunter or agency dumped CWD infected carcasses were announced by a USDA investigator as the likely cause of the new positives in SE Minnesota.

The DNR did a nice job of generating an irrational fear of CWD with their PR campaign.  They even got the states press to print stories with bad information about CWD, and have been spreading undocumented information about CWD’s affect on other states deer herds.  Maybe its all just a play for more money.  MDHA started years back as a group to feed deer in harsh winters.  Now all that money is used for CWD testing and sharpshooters.

Wisconsin has spent $55 million on CWD.  They could not eliminate the disease.  Hunter reaction to failed a plan with sharpshooters and herd reduction had them drift to a more passive approach.  Deer hunting in CWD hot spots of southern Wisconsin is often better now than in 2002 when the disease was first detected.  Deer land is fetching $5,000 per acre in many of the CWD hot zones.

Illinois has employed sharpshooters since 2002, and their prevalence rates and number of affected counties continues to grow.

For 2017 the MN DNR is requesting $1.5 million for CWD testing and sharpshooting.  They will find more CWD.  The $600,000 we threw at the ‘spark’ and SE Minnesota will not contain the disease.  No state has ever beat back CWD when multiple wild positives are found.  CWD is here and it will be affecting more and more counties in Minnesota.  Its spreading all across the country, and our plans bucket is full of holes that may never be plugged.

Testing and sharpshooting has proven extremely unpopular with the hunting public.  It has also solved nothing in the states that have tried it.  Aggressive CWD plans erode the hunter experience, and they have not been shown to slow the geographic spread of the disease.  Will history repeat here in Minnesota- or will we learn form what other states have already experienced?