CO Reports: CO’s report busy firearms Deer Opener

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CO Reports: CO’s report busy firearms Deer Opener

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports – Nov. 11, 2022


District 9 – Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked a busy firearms deer opener and monitored angling activity. Casework prior to the opener lead to illegal hunting of big game over bait violations resulting in numerous firearms and archery equipment seizures. Guida fielded a trespassing complaint where a landowner was posting public property for personal gain. In addition to the trespassing violation, the landowner contact revealed an untagged big game animal hanging from a tree in their yard and the suspect failing to validate his big game site tag. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) focused on deer hunting activity this past week. During the opening weekend of firearms season Sullivan contacted hunters that were transporting loaded firearms in a motor vehicle, hunting deer with the aid of bait and trespassing. During the investigations firearms and illegally taken deer were seized. Sullivan also contacted a subject that was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance. Hunters reported seeing good numbers of deer.


CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking multiple deer hunters over the weekend. Success rates were average for local hunters. Enforcement action was taken for various deer hunting violations.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) and COC Ohnstad saw heavy hunting pressure on both public and private lands in the areas around the Foothills State Forest. Enforcement action taken for hunting over bait, CWD violations, transporting loaded guns, fail to validate tags, operate ATVs on closed trails, unattended fires and various license and vehicle registration issues.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking hunters over the busy firearms deer season opener. Cooler temps had hunters going into the weekend had hunters feeling hopeful. Many deer were seen in the bag throughout the area, and in talking with CWD check station staff harvest was comparable to opener last year. Enforcement action included license violations and transporting loaded firearms.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) worked the deer season opener. He assisted with an injured hunter and took calls of dumped deer carcasses. It’s a shame to see so many deer carcasses dumped in illegal places, because there are dumpsters at CWD check stations that provide a free and legal place to dispose the deer. The high wind on Sunday had many hunters out of the woods.


District 2 – Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy opening weekend of the deer season. Things slowed down Sunday as the weather conditions got worse and wind gusts neared 40 mph. Time was spent responding to complaints of trespassing and hunting over bait.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) worked alongside COC Jesse Drown preparing for the opening weekend of firearms deer season. Deer movement was noticeably slow and weather Sunday seemed to keep people indoors. Harvest numbers seemed low. Enforcement action was taken on a past bear case, baiting deer, and ATV registration violations.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked deer hunters and worked complaints of baiting, trespass, dogs chasing deer, litter and theft. Overall, the hunter feedback showed low deer numbers during opening weekend of the firearms season.

District 4 – Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports deer hunters having some success despite difficult weather conditions on Sunday. Big-game investigations consisted of hunt with aid or use of bait, shoot/shine big game from roadway, felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Calls from the public also included deer possession permits, trespass complaints, neighbor disputes related to hunting and property being stored at an SNA.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) working the opener of the firearms deer season. A lot of hunters were out, but those in the Huntersville and Badoura state forests reported seeing few deer. Enforcement action included take deer over bait, trespass, fail to validate deer tag, timber trespass and various WMA violations.


CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass and Hubbard counties for deer hunting activity. Area lakes were also worked for waterfowl hunting activity. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) worked a busy deer hunting opener weekend. Hunting success appeared to be lower than normal. A few grouse hunters were out who continue to find some birds. Enforcement action was taken for deer hunting violations.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) primarily focused on big game hunting and small game hunting. Cross saw decent success for small game and deer hunters over the weekend. Cross reminds hunters to be aware of where you are hunting. An example of this would be game refuges: Please refer to Page 107 of the hunting regulations. Enforcement action was taken numerous hunting violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked deer and small game hunters. Enforcement action was taken on damage to public property, no small game license, and various deer hunting violations.


District 7 – Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy weekend of deer opener with many sportsmen in the woods. Sutherland took enforcement action for hunting deer over bait, feeding deer during a feeding ban and failing to validate a deer license before moving it from the kill site. Sutherland also reminds hunters across the state to wear a harness attached to the tree while high off the ground. One unlucky hunter fell asleep Sunday afternoon during the high winds, slanted forward and fell to the ground from over 12 feet up. Luckily enough he was able to slowly make it to a trail and call for help.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked small game hunting, trapping and recreational vehicles during the previous week. Time was also spent working the busy opening weekend of the firearms deer season. Enforcement activity involved ATV violations, transporting loaded firearms and WMA violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued field training with COC Andrew Ladzinski. It seems that area hunters have switched from small game to preparing for the firearms deer season. Time was spent checking stands for baiting activity with other local officers. Hochstein and Ladzinski assisted other agencies on multiple vehicle crashes and a vehicle fire on HWY 169. Many questions were fielded regarding the new CWD regulations for Itasca and Aitkin counties. Reports in the field have been low for people harvesting deer for the opening weekend.


District 10 – Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked deer hunters, who were having slow success and struggling with windy conditions on the Sunday of opening weekend. Verkuilen also talked about deer season regulations on a local radio program. Anglers made use of the calmer days to go after Mille Lacs Lake muskies. They also caught some limits of crappies.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked firearms deer opener. Success among hunters was slow the first few days. Enforcement action was taken on various ATV and big-game violations.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) saw a busy opening deer firearm season. Numerous hunters were checked with enforcement action taken for hunting over bait, untagged deer and violations of deer-feeding ban regulations. In addition to a busy deer opener, assistance was provided to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol with two rollover vehicle crashes.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked shining complaint areas and scouted for baited deer-hunting areas. An abandoned camper was found on a public water access parking lot. Waterfowl hunters were happy with some fresh birds coming in. Deer opener violations included hunting over bait, untagged deer, and numerous trespass problems.

District 11 – St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) spent the week getting ready for the 2022 firearms deer opener by answering several questions about the different deer licenses and the feed/attractant bans. Time was spent working with local officers on a shoot from the road and trespassing complaint. Complaints of dogs chasing deer was handled and permits for car kill deer. Enforcement actions include deer stands on public land, no youth helmet, shoot from road, trespassing, shining, no ATV certification, hunt with bait, attractant violation, fail to validate, fail to tag, transport untagged deer, no license in possession.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) fielded various questions from the public prior to the rifle deer opener and investigated deer baiting complaints through the week. A report of a bear bait station left out on a WMA after the close of the season was investigated. A car killed buck was discovered in the area with its antlers sawed off. As a reminder, it is illegal to cut the antlers or possess a car kill deer without a possession permit. Enforcement action was taken for failure to remove bear bait station within allotted time after close of season, failure to have identification on bear bait barrel, hunting deer with the aid of bait, possession of deer overlimit, transporting loaded firearms in vehicles and ATV, various ATV violations, and placing attractants (salt blocks) in a county with feed and attractant ban.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked the area assisting neighboring officers with deer season calls including trespass, hunt over bait, shoot from the road, shinning deer, possession of drugs and paraphernalia. The officer also handled several calls regards questions pertaining to deer hunting regulations.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) had a busy firearms deer opener. Enforcement action was taken for transporting loaded guns, untagged deer, hunting over bait, and ATV violations. A few hunters tried to save some money by not buying licenses. Along with hefty fines, these hunters will be revoked from hunting for three years.

District 12 – Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) had a very busy deer opener. While speaking with hunters on illegal use of bait, one hunter stated that the pumpkins were there before. When the officer addressed that they were not there in the days leading to gun opener, he promptly stated that was because the new ones were from a local hardware store. He was advised of baiting laws and how they apply to gun hunting.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) and COC Tony Hams spent the week following up on baiting complaints and checking deer hunters. Violations encountered were hunt over bait, failure to validate tag, transport loaded firearm, no blaze orange, and leaving stands in a WMA.

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