Brooks' Blog

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?



Genetic resistance to CWD won't catch Lou quoting these scholars.

Should we give the DNR $1.5 million for their outdated CWD action plan, or is it time to stop the madness?

Stacie Robinson and co-authors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Alberta-Edmonton reported in the journal “Ecological Applications” that 41% of deer from the CWD core area of Wisconsin demonstrated resistance to CWD. Not only were the resistant deer four times less likely to contract CWD, but if they did become infected, advanced infection of the brain stem was 12 times lower, and they lived 49% longer than the disease-susceptible deer.

Furthermore, due to lowered infection and mortality, deer with the resistant genotypes had a significant reproductive advantage. This advantage would drive natural selection toward a predominantly CWD-resistant population within 250 years at low infection rates and within 50 years at high infection rates.

The authors stated these genetic differences in disease dynamics have not been previously documented, accounted for in management planning or considered in current CWD models.

These genetic resistance findings were not available when Illinois instituted its sharpshooting program but certainly should be considered now. Culling randomly removes CWD-resistant deer as well as reducing the selective pressure toward resistance caused by the diseased deer. Although evolutionary change is slow by our standards, nature has done a better job than people ever will at building a better deer. High CWD infection rates in some areas of the state translate to greater selective pressure and evolution toward disease resistance.

The bottom line: Let Mother Nature’s passive plan of natural selection already in progress control CWD. Culling by sharpshooters and aggressive herd reduction may reap hypothesized temporary benefits but will slow natural selection and permanent evolutionary change toward CWD-resistant deer.

On Jan. 22, the state Natural Resources Board approved recommendations from the Deer Trustees Report including what has erroneously been called “passive management.” That same night in Mount Horeb, where the costly CWD war in Wisconsin all began, I met with a group of hunters and we rejoiced: Aggressive measures to control CWD finally ended. Mother Nature and her deer had won.

Hunting not part of the MN Deer Plan?

How does that work?

Here is an update on the deer planning process.  There won’t be anything about hunting in it.

Management decisions concerning whitetail deer are made for the general public.  Deer hunters represent about 9% of the general public.  Minority stakeholder. The deer plan will be written without hunting.

What does that mean to you as a hunter?



Always Fatal White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in Bats

... Minnesota DNR reacts

The disease is named for the white fungal growth observed on infected bats. It is not known to pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife.

“We know very little about white-nose sydrome,” quipped DNR’s Bat Expert Lou Cornicelli “but funding is limited and we think the best approach is to follow our wildly popular CWD plan for whitetail deer.  We will be shooting lots of bats and then testing to see what shakes out.  Hopefully we can cherry pick some data and find a reason to keep moving forward.”

Thousands of bats will be shot to keep them alive.

We asked Lou if he thought killing the bats would eliminate WNS.  “We most certainly don’t want to go the route Wisconsin did.  They have bats everywhere.  Paul Telander counted over 60 bats in the dugout at a Milwaukee Brewers game last summer.”

Minnesota is home to 1 million bats, and landowner permits are available free of charge.  Lead free shotgun shells will provided to interested parties along with ear plugs as some of the best shooting occurs deep underground in mining caves and silo missiles.  “We are asking the public to please not shoot toward the actual missiles” Cornicelli said,  “They are pretty expensive and the decals are hard to find online if they get shot up.”

To learn more or to see a map of where all the missile silos in Minnesota are located, go to the DNR’s bat research page at kill the



Cost effective land clearing

President Johnson found a bargain

Members of MNBowhunters Inc can cash in a negotiated stump clearing contract procured by President Brooks Johnson.  $400 per hour or $650 per acre with a 5 acre minimum.

MNBowhunter exclusive savings

This is a central Minnesota stump or low brush price, not a mature timber mulching.

If you have been looking for a way to add trails or plots to land in central Minnesota, this is a tremendous value for a Vermeer mulched area that is ready to plant, drive or whatever.  Call around and you will find most companies are charging twice these amounts.

You have to be an MBI member in good standing to be eligible.