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Firearms deer opener starts this weekend

The forests are ripe with deer for the 2012 firearms opener this weekend. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

As the pilgrimage north begins as early as tomorrow, many Hubbard County businesses are gearing up to capitalize on the 2011 deer firearms opener.

Only one cabin remains available for rent at Home Bay Camp on Lower Bottle Lake, said owner Lynn Davidson. The other four are spoken for.

Most of the hunters are regulars who've come up here for years and have their own hunting spots, Davidson said.

Otherwise, "most of †he land around here is posted."

Homemade caramel and cinnamon rolls will greet hunters at 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Emmaville Café, hotel and campground.

"We've got all kinds of hunters' specials. All the cabins and rooms are rented," said employee Dawn Cedarbloom.

This will be the establishment's first deer season since reopening last year. It will once again be a registration station, Cedarbloom said.

"We're gonna be geared up for a big weekend," she underscored. The café will stay open until 9 p.m.

Lobo's Bar & Grill near Itasca State Park has also scheduled extra staff for the weekend, said bartender Casey Dahl.

"We'll get a big crowd here Friday and Saturday nights," he said. Food specials and karaoke will pack the house Saturday, he said. Deer hunting is good for the region's business, Dahl said.

Deer Lane Laundromat will cater to cleanliness.

"We're the only ones around here that have a shower," owner Mavis Trenholm said. She expects the washers, dryers and shower to run non-stop over he weekend.

But the business can no longer procure a highly desired item - soap that masks human odors and was snapped up by hunters.

"We can't find it anywhere," Trenholm said. "We sold out of it very fast and then we couldn't get it. We've looked all over for it."

Other soaps are available, she noted. Trenholm said she looks forward to seeing her regulars, too. Those will include some seasonal residents who've closed their cabins and drained their water systems.

The DNR expects this year's harvest to be commensurate to the 207,000 deer taken last year. The peak harvest was 290,000 in 2003 after a succession of mild winters, according to the DNR.

Most of the corn will have been harvested by the weekend. In the past, hunters have expressed frustration at the lower early harvests because of standing cornfields that shelter the deer.

Nearly 200 conservation officers will fan out over the state to enforce hunting regulations.

"The vast majority of deer hunters in Minnesota abide by the rules and regulations, while a small percentage run afoul of the law," said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director. "Hunters can best help us protect and preserve the resource by simply following the rules."

Conservation officers wrote 1,110 citations or warnings during the 2010 firearms season, according to the DNR. That was up slightly from the 1,035 citations or warnings issued in 2009.

Most citations are written for failure to validate a site tag. Minnesota's deer license and site tag come as a two-part form. The upper half is the site tag for tagging the deer in the field. The lower half is the deer license and registration slip.

At the kill site, a hunter must detach the site tag from the deer license/registration slip.

Before moving the deer, the hunter must validate the tag by using a knife or similar sharp object to cut out the appropriate notches indicating the month the deer was killed, date it was killed and the time of day it was killed. "Mark carefully - if more than one month, date or time is cut out or marked, the tag becomes invalid," Konrad said.

The validated site tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV, or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation.

Transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is another recurring deer hunting violation.

Other common violations include hunting over bait, license not in possession, shooting from the road right-of-way at big game and hunting without permission on private property.

And Hubbard County authorities have been responding to numerous vehicle-deer collisions over the past two weeks, indicating there's an ample supply of whitetails waiting to be harvested by firearms, not wheels.

This report was supplemented by material from the Minnesota DNR.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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