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CO Reports: Small game and muzzleloader deer hunters active

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 1, 2022

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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw a low number of hunters for the weekend muzzleloader opener. Grouse hunters were more common, as were squirrel hunters. The weather has been cooperating for people still getting out in the woods.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent time on outstanding deer-season complaints. Anglers were testing the ice and found some panfish-fishing success.


CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports warm weather in the area has cleared any snow cover that was present. The warm weather also stalled out ice that was forming on area lakes. As the cooler weather comes, make sure to check ice conditions because ice thickness will be variable. The muzzleloader deer season opener was pretty slow but some hunters reported successful hunts.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked the opening weekend of the muzzleloader deer season. Warm weather slowed the activity and slowed ice formation. Guida continued following up on deer-feeding and hunting-with-aid-of-bait violations. An ATV was stopped after the driver was observed failing to stop at three public road intersections and the front tires of the ATV were observed leaving the ground. Area lakes have varying ice conditions with many open-water spots visible.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time throughout the week working ATV-related complaints in the rec area and checking waterfowl and muzzleloader deer hunters.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking hunters in the area. The warmer weather brought small-game hunters back out, as well as the muzzleloader hunters for opening weekend. Cook took enforcement action on transporting a loaded firearm, lend-borrow deer-hunting licenses and hunting without a small-game license.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) followed up on cases from the firearms deer season. Muzzleloader deer season activity was worked and time was spent conducting deer farm inspections. The first ice anglers of the year were checked. Caution is advised on Bemidji-area lakes, as ice depths vary greatly.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week following up on cases from the deer season and checking the first ice anglers. Ice conditions improved slightly during the week, but warm conditions did not help over the weekend. Some muzzleloader hunters were seen over the weekend, but foggy conditions made hunting difficult in much of the area. Swedberg also assisted Becker County with a DUI arrest.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, assisted with a complaint of shooting from the roadway, and worked ongoing cases.

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Turn in Poachers (TIP) in Minnesota - Report a violation in progress:

To report a violation: call 800-652-9093 24 hours a day, or key in #TIP on your cell phone.

To report a violation that isn't time sensitive: Use the form at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/enforcement/tipreportingform.html

Don't let poachers spoil your future hunting or fishing enjoyment - or success.

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District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking small-game and deer hunters. Anglers are starting to get out on the early ice as well. He would like anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of changing ice conditions during the early ice season and to make personal safety a priority.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) continued field training COC (Conservation Officer Candidate) Znajda. They investigated cases of illegal deer dumping in addition to several unregistered deer. Loaded firearms in vehicles and untagged-deer investigations resulted in various enforcement action. Hunters are reminded to wear an adequate amount of blaze clothing during the muzzleloader season.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked deer-hunting activity and followed up with ongoing cases.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) continued to work on big-game cases from this fall. He also spent time winterizing station patrol boats and other seasonal equipment. Ice conditions remain poor in the area, and several lakes still have open water.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked muzzleloader deer hunters. One complaint of shooting deer from the roadway was investigated and eventually led to enforcement action taken for deer-hunting violations. A few ice anglers were seen out on the ice. Open water to about 4 inches of ice was seen on area lakes. Extreme caution must be used if venturing out on the ice at this time.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked archery deer/muzzleloader hunting, small-game hunting, and early ice fishing. Hunters reported tough deer hunting and few deer were seen. Cross checked a few small-game hunters who had luck bagging a few ruffed grouse. Additionally, Cross checked some early ice anglers who had mixed success. Cross reminds people the ice in the area is extremely unpredictable and ranges from no ice to around 3 inches.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) followed up on complaints from the firearms deer season. Time was also spent investigating a TIP complaint of people illegally cutting decorative boughs and spruce tops. Some lakes in the area are beginning to freeze over but ice conditions appear to be unsafe for any type of travel.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) and COC Roemeling spent the week following up on a big-game violation case and a spruce-top theft case. Several smaller lakes in the area have frozen over and anglers have been having moderate success.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports that while some of the smaller lakes have sufficient ice, most lakes don’t have enough ice for ice fishing. Please remember that if you are going to venture out on the lakes to check the ice thickness often and carry the proper safety equipment.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent time doing equipment maintenance and following up on big-game cases. Litter complaints were followed up on. Griffith would like to give a reminder to keep safety in mind now that ice is beginning to form on waters across the state.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) investigated post-deer-season reports from the public. Issues of illegally dumped deer, trespass, and hunting over bait were called in from concerned hunters and landowners. Illegal bough cutting was also looked into.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked fishing via boat, fishing via ice, and checked duck hunters. A new regulation on limits is in place for panfish on Shakopee Lake, and anglers should refresh their knowledge of regulations before taking fish. Muzzleloader season was under way with a few nice bucks harvested. Violations for failure to register deer and ATV-registration violations were addressed.

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Reminder: Any resident born after December 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota must possess a snowmobile certificate. Two options are available to complete certification. Ages 11 and older can take the online course and hands-on day or attend the traditional youth course. Those 16 or older can take the online course.

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District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked on TIP calls concerning baiting. He also worked duck-hunting activity and pheasant hunting in the area. He took calls concerning a deer that was ear-tagged and appeared to be tame in western Stearns County.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking hunters and the first ice anglers of the season. Muzzleloader season started slowly, with only a few deer harvested. Bertram also assisted the Saskatchewan DNR with an investigation.

Read more 'CO Reports'
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 24, 2023
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 19, 2023
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 10, 2023
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 5, 2023
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 28, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 20, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 6, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 24, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 15, 2022

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) checked some trappers who were targeting various furbearers. Through checking the sets with the trapper, it was noticed that they had some violations. The trapper was educated and continued on their way.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking deer hunters. Hunters were reporting moderate success with the recent weather shift. Enforcement action was taken for hunting without a license, shooting from the roadway, hunting over bait, and several tagging/validation violations.

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