Fireworks likely as deer hunters, legislators meet tonight in Winona
Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota are invited to a public meeting tonight in Winona. Sen. Jeremy Miller, a Republican from Winona, wants to hear their thoughts on antler-point restrictions and cross-tagging for bucks.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical Student Center, which is at 1250 Homer Road.
The meeting is likely to be lively. Opponents of rule changes implemented last year say that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources overstepped its authority by requiring hunters to pass on bucks that don't have at least four points on one antler, and they say that the ban on cross-tagging has forced families to change their long-standing traditions.
Supporters of the new rules, including the southeastern Minnesota-based Bluffland Whitetails Association, argue that antler-point restrictions and the ban on cross-tagging will improve the quality of the region's deer herd by allowing more bucks to survive for at least two years. The rule changes came about after years of study and multiple surveys of deer hunters in the southeast region. The new rules are to be in place for two more years, then will be re-evaluated.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Republican from Mazeppa, is leading the fight to overturn the new regulations. He's introduced language in the House Game and Fish bill that would set the old rules in state statute, effectively nixing the DNR's ability to try new deer management strategies.
No such bill exists in the Senate, and Miller says he wants to hear from hunters before deciding whether he will join Drazkowski's effort.