Avid hunter says his seeded plots could help

Spreading out the animals could slow the disease, he reasons

By Gary Gunderson

BELGRADE, Minn. -- Deer hunting is the highlight of fall for Dennis Eickhoff and his family.

He and his wife, Rosalyn, bow hunt, and he shotgun hunts with other family members.


The couple started a new business two years ago, Buck Shooters Seed Co., with the idea of helping people maintain deer on their property. Now Eickhoff said his business, which he runs out of his house near Belgrade, might end up helping more deer survive a possible outbreak of chronic wasting disease in the state.

Buck Shooters sells seed for native plants, to replace food plots such as corn, Eickhoff said. One of the theories on how CWD spreads is through animal-to-animal contact. He reasons that spreading the animals out could help reduce the disease's incidence.

"I always tell people who buy from us that they should plant small plots in many different areas," Eickhoff said. "You can do more damage than good with corn plots. This is a more natural food for deer, and they're not all eating out of the same pile."

No CWD has been found in Minnesota, but in areas where it has gotten a foothold it can quickly become common, said Glen Zebarth, an elk farmer near Alexandria and a veterinarian who has worked on CWD control programs in other states.

In Colorado counties where CWD is present, an average of 4.5 percent of mule deer have the disease. In a few areas as many as 15 percent of the deer are infected, Zebarth said. An average of less than 1 percent of the elk in these areas have CWD.

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