Baxter looks to make changes to hunting map

Deer management group recommends changes

Baxter City Council members sit behind the council desk in city hall.
Baxter City Council members Connie Lyscio, left, Zach Tabatt, Mayor Darrel Olson, Jeff Phillips and Mark Cross meet Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in City Hall.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Baxter continues to consider options to increase deer hunting in the city.

A deer management group, meeting since the fall of 2022, is looking at ways to increase hunting in the city.

Nearly a year ago to the day, some residents came to the City Council with complaints of too many deer in the city eating plants in yards and seeking options to manage the population. The deer management group, with Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted, includes volunteer residents with an expressed interest in deer hunting and working to control the deer population in the city.

Tuesday, May 2, the City Council received a report from the city’s Long Range Planning Commission on the topic. The commission met April 24 and looked at changes to the city hunting map.


Baxter Hunting map
Baxter's hunting map in 2022.

Baxter notes every property in the city is identified in one of four ways when it comes to hunting.

Those options are: No hunting, archery only zone, shotgun and archery only zone and muzzleloader/shotgun and archery zone.

Most of the city is in a no hunting zone, although larger more rural properties may allow hunting and, in response to deer population concerns, the city allowed larger properties next to residential areas in the city to be in the archery only zone. The city noted shotgun and muzzleloader is allowed only when property for hunting is at least 500 feet from a dwelling or occupied building.

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The deer management group brought forward the idea of an addition to the hunting options with a “managed archery” on undeveloped city owned, public land.

“The managed component will come with the requirement that all hunters on these properties must have completed the MN DNR hunter safety course and also a proficiency test with their bow,” according to a report to the commission.

Hunting map Baxter 2023
The 2023 hunting map includes a managed archery only zone in red.

“The new changes, specifically making hunters pass the two tests, improve the City’s comfort level with opening these properties to hunting. The other factor is that the City now ventured into the realm of ‘neighborhood’ hunting in other areas of town and no complaints have been fielded at the police department.”

“There is one area included in this proposal that is not a new ‘Managed Archery’ area request. It’s labeled the Maryland Forestview Area and I believe it was an oversight in years past,” Matthew Gindele, Baxter city planner wrote in the report. “We’re recommending it be placed in the regular archery designation like properties on either side of it. The deer management group will continue to meet in the coming months.

“Their efforts will focus on the permit/application process and then will want to move into more of a public relations mode promoting hunting in the city. Long term we’ll continue to work on making improvements to the process.”


The Long Range Planning Commission was asked to consider adding new managed archery areas, including Whipple Lake, Grand Oaks Trail, Inglewood/Fairview, Falcon Drive, Evergreen Drive, Jasperwood Drive, Isle Drive and Mississippi River Overlook Park.

In a recap of the commission meeting for the City Council, the report noted Exsted said the answer to past requests to add some of the requested areas for hunting was no, but he was more comfortable allowing the areas to be added because of the restrictions for managed areas.

“The Grand Oaks larger area, Park & Trail employees went out there and cut some trails in and found several deer stands in that area,” meeting minutes stated. “That told him that it was working to hunt that area and there weren’t any complaints about hunting in that area. They weren’t supposed to be hunting that area at that time.”

The commission was in favor of the changes and Exsted noted the issue may not have to go before City Council for the changes. Asked if those living in homes next to the proposed new hunting areas had been notified, Exsted said they did not reach out to those residents, noting the work of contacting all the properties. The meeting notes stated the issue was published on the website.

“Planning Commission Chair (Kevin) Donnay stated that there have been several meetings regarding the deer. He was personally relieved that staff is not bringing complaints about hunting deer,” the minutes stated. “Staff indicated they haven’t received any complaints. (Community Development) Director (Josh) Doty added that if there were someone to come in/call regarding the hunting in town, staff would encourage them to attend this meeting.”

The City Council Tuesday accepted the meeting minutes from the commission without additional comment.

In other business, the council:

Approved the sale of a 2016 Berti TA/S-200 roadside mower attachment at the Minnesota State Surplus Services site after getting a new attachment this year.


Reaffirmed a law enforcement mutual aid agreement covering 14 counties in the state’s northeast Arrowhead region with St. Louis County taking the lead for coordination.

Extended Baxter Snowmobile Club’s lease of the former public works building on Industrial Park Road. The club’s lease expired in March. The group has leased the building since 1995 and requested an additional three years, paying a 20% increase in base rent as well as continuing to cover utilities, insurance and other costs.

Appointed Noah Schaeffer to the position of engineering intern.

Approved the Short Elliott Hendrickson topographical survey services contract not to exceed $45,0000 for work with the 2024 South Forestview improvements project. The city is looking at extending sanitary sewer and water to serve 106 parcels with 124 residential units in the South Forestview neighborhood. Streets involved include: Forestview Drive south of River Vista Drive, Maryland Road, River Vista Drive, River Vista Court, Medford Road, Riverwood Road and Parkview Circle.

Other things, also in the planning stage for 2024, are a trailhead parking lot on the western end of Forestview Drive near Highway 371 and a 3,200 foot long future trail corridor, which is up to 50 feet wide, running parallel to the highway. A draft feasibility report for the project is expected before the council in June. Project manager for SEH is Scott Hedlund. Work is expected to start in May and be completed in June.

Agreed to work with WSB to bridge the gap for a vacant engineering inspector position. The city’s position has been vacant since October 2022. Money from the open position is going to cover the expense of a WSB contract where a former intern with the city of Brainerd, who is an engineer in training at WSB’s Baxter office, will assist Baxter with the workload. The work includes residential construction inspections, permit reviews, commercial development inspections, among other duties. The engineer in training is expected to work with the city at a rate of $114 per hour and provide about 16 hours of work for the city each week. The fee is estimated to be $7,296 per month.

In council comments, Council member Connie Lyscio praised the project engineers for the road work now and for the regular communication updates. Council member Mark Cross added his usual call to watch out for motorcycles noting they are now out and about in traffic. Mayor Darrel Olson drew attention to the May 4 National Day of Prayer, providing a background on its history starting with President Harry Truman making it a national observance in 1952 and President Ronald Reagan setting it on the first Thursday in May in 1988.


Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at @DispatchBizBuzz.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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