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Deer baiting, poaching mar 2009 opener

Deer were either on the move or hunkered down last weekend. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Widespread tales of illegal deer baiting throughout Minnesota and especially in the northwestern counties have not been present locally, although Hubbard County has seen some illegal baiting.

DNR conservation officers in the northwest areas of the state reported numerous confiscations of weapons for deer baiting. Locally, a new hunting regulation has closed one loophole hunters were using to lure deer to hunting areas - bird feeders.

"I think the bird feeder thing was fairly creative but now that that's been eliminated it made it a lot simpler," said Conservation Officer Paul Parthun.

Although hunters have used some rather ingenious methods to skirt the law, such as planting small patches of corn near hunting camps, Parthun said he's seen few violations.

"I'm up to about six different cases that I have; I'm actively working," he said. "I have not made any arrests, haven't issued any citations. Four of them were situations where I received information and thought perhaps there was some baiting going on and either the bait had been removed or there wasn't a hunter there on the stand."

Parthun, who works the northern end of the county, said for the most part, hunters in his area have been law-abiding.

"The Schoolcraft (State Game Refuge) area, obviously firearms in the Schoolcraft area has always been an issue there," he said. The game refuge is only open to bow hunters.

"I've taken one guy out of there that was firearms hunting; confiscated the weapons," he said. "That's kind of an automatic there."

"I don't know that I'm actually seeing any more in my area than I did last year," Parthun said. "It's amazing how in different areas of the state numbers will change dramatically. In one portion of the state or one enforcement area there'll be a lot of violations and just another one 60 miles away there isn't.

"I don't think I'm seeing any more than I have in previous years."

Besides the baiting cases there have been other violations including ATV restrictions and use, failure to validate some tags, some antler restrictions and point violations in Itasca State Park.

"Most people are asking, 'Hey where are the deer?' and I think there's a couple answers to that," he said.

"Certainly numbers are down. Wildlife officials will tell you they've been trying to reduce the deer herds and it's worked so the numbers are down but we also had a full moon fore several nights there so deer were moving at night and bedding down during these nice warm days so that played a role as well."

Conservation Officer Colleen Adam reported violations centered around "illegal and unethical party hunting practices," shooting from a motor vehicle from the roadway, transporting an untagged deer, failing to validate tags, and hunting over baited areas.

In the southern part of the state, it was poachng, not baiting, that captured the public's attention.

DNR officials Thursday afternoon announced a White Rock, Minn., man hailed as shooting a record 8-point buck in Goodhue County actually poached the deer.

Bow hunter Troy Allen Reinke, 32, now faces 13 criminal charges and loss of his hunting privileges. The deer and antlers were confiscated by the DNR.