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CO Reports: Waterfowl hunting slows in Brainerd area

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - October 27, 2022

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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled for waterfowl-, sport fishing, and deer-hunting activity this week. Guida encountered numerous anglers successfully catching smallmouth bass and catfish. Water temperatures are getting cold and anglers and boaters are reminded to check for life-saving personal floatation devices prior to launching. Waterfowl-hunting activity has slowed and youth deer harvest appears down due to above-normal temperatures.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports youth deer hunters in the area reported lots of success. One youth hunter was hoping for an eight-point buck and on Thursday evening that hunter harvested the buck, which was a personal best. Sullivan also checked waterfowl and small-game hunters. Common violations reported were trespassing and litter.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking youth deer hunters and early antlerless hunters throughout the week. A dirty campsite was also investigated, with contact with the individuals. Enforcement action for the week included license violations and ATVs operating on state highways.

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CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) was joined by COC Violet Ohnstad for another week of field training. They focused their time on ATV enforcement, public lands violations, bear baits, and minnow trapping. They also spent time with ongoing investigations of bear and swan carcasses found in the area.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking multiple hunters out for the early antlerless and youth firearms seasons over the weekend. There was also a fair amount of ATV riders out enjoying the warm fall weather. Enforcement action was taken for failure to validate a site tag and various ATV-related violations. Multiple calls were also received in regard to hunting questions and calls for service.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw more duck hunters this past week. There are new birds in the area thanks to cold weather. With the added pressure, many groups said it was hard to get the ducks to commit to the decoys. The antlerless/youth deer season had average participation, but resulted in few deer shot. Grouse hunting has been slow. Flerlage investigated a wetland/lakeshore violation.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) patrolled area lakes and forest roads. Waterfowl hunters, who were having mixed success, were checked.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports an active youth deer hunt along with lots of hunters taking part in the area’s early antlerless season. Warm weather, though, caught some hunters ill-prepared as a number of complaints were taken regarding whole, gutted deer dumped on minimum maintenance roads. It appeared the hunters didn’t take the necessary steps to remove the hide and cool the deer before it spoiled. It is illegal to wantonly waste harvested game. Vinton assisted the sheriff’s department with a disturbance and CO Jordan Anderson with a group of hunters who were hunting outside of the only antlerless permit area. Enforcement action was taken for hunting outside the antlerless permit area, no deer license, no license in possession and operating an ATV on a county highway.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) worked alongside COC Jesse Drown this week. Drown and Swedberg appeared on the Gone Outdoors Radio show discussing life as a conservation officer and what our training looks like. The youth firearms deer season was slow with the warmer weather, but activity on area lakes increased with anglers taking advantage of the perfect conditions. Enforcement action was taken for careless operation of an off-highway motorcycle on a highway, lend/borrow of a big-game license, and transporting a loaded firearm. Swedberg and Drown also assisted other agencies with other calls for service.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked small-game and deer hunters, worked ongoing cases, and assisted with a search warrant. He also worked complaints about dogs chasing deer and hunter-harassment.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports grouse and woodcock hunters having success. He also checked anglers and deer hunters, who reported limited success with the changing weather. Reports from the public included trespass complaints, animal-related calls and damage to public water access property.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked small-game and deer-hunting activity. Enforcement action was taken on an ATV violation.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) working the youth deer season and coinciding early antlerless season. Time was also spent checking anglers and duck hunters. Enforcement action was taken for violations including illegal possession of deer, taking antlerless deer in the wrong zone, hunting deer without a license, and unplugged shotgun. Hunters are reminded it is their responsibility to know what license or permit they need, and not that of the local gas station attendant.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes for waterfowl-hunting and angling activity. Hunters and anglers are reporting limited success. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) worked the youth deer-hunting season, monitored decorative materials harvesting activities, and completed some equipment maintenance. An individual was caught with a truckload of stolen spruce tops, which were seized. Enforcement action was taken for several ATV-related violations, transporting loaded firearms, duck hunting without required licenses/stamps, and taking a deer without a license, which resulted in the deer being seized. Brown also helped locate a group of lost hunters who were found safe.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked grouse hunters and recreational vehicle activity during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on complaints involving trespassing and big-game-hunting violations. Holt attended a youth firearms safety field day to speak about laws and ethics in hunting.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued field training with COC Andrew Ladzinski. Time was spent patrolling forest roads, checking grouse hunters and ATV riders. Hunters are reporting varied numbers of grouse seen in the woods, but almost all have had opportunities to take grouse. A complaint was investigated regarding illegal shooting lanes being cut and illegal ATV operation. Various questions from people regarding CWD, early antlerless season licenses, and firearms safety training were answered.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked small-game hunters in search of grouse. Lake activity was monitored where several people were getting their boats off the lake for the end of the season. Verkuilen also attended a district meeting, participated in annual training, and issued roadkill permits.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked big-game, small-game, and ATV-riding activity. Assistance was given to local agencies. Time was spent following up on complaints and ongoing cases. Enforcement action was taken on ATV, OHM, and small-game violations. Griffith would like to remind hunters and recreational riders to read through the regulation books before heading out.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) continued to encounter many waterfowl and small-game hunters on local public lands and waterways. Enforcement action was taken for several violations, including hunting without the required license and transporting loaded firearms in motor vehicles. ATV activity surged as warmer weather returned and enforcement action was taken for allowing youthful operation of ATVs and youth operating ATVs without required helmets.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) assisted with some district equipment maintenance and checked small-game hunters. The youth deer season and early antlerless season saw warm weather and very few deer moving. Starr found a case in which a youth’s first deer was not registered properly by the supervising adults. The father explained that because a family dog broke into the garage and ate most of the deer, the registration requirement was forgotten.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and rivers for angling and boating activities. Time was spent working the early antlerless season, and several calls for trespassing and other hunting related complaints were handled. Westby spent time with Forestry Division personnel investigating fires in the area. Time was also spent with local partners on a shining complaint after the legal shining hours. Westby worked the early antlerless and youth deer opener and spoke with several hunters who had a successful weekend. Enforcement action include litter, failure to register deer, failure to validate, trespassing on closed WMA, use of the wrong deer license, shooting from the roadway, transporting a loaded firearm, and shooting before and after legal shooting hours.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored ATV-riding activity, checked pheasant, deer, and duck hunters, and conducted AIS inspections. Follow up was conducted on a case of wildlife feeding. An investigation into shooting after legal hours found that the hunter was also trespassing, which led to seizure of the deer. Enforcement action was taken for no state duck stamp, no HIP certification, no deer license in possession, hunter trespass, and shooting after legal hours.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) handled calls concerning the early antlerless season, license questions and injured animals. He continues to investigate cameras being left in WMAs and people operating a motor vehicle in a waterfowl production area. Shining complaints were also reported.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) had a busy early antlerless season. Calls regarding trespass, hunting in a refuge, shining, and baiting were handled. Enforcement action was also taken for license violations and loaded firearms.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) and COC Tony Hams spent time during the week checking small-game hunters, working ATV enforcement, following up on baiting complaints, and working the early antlerless and youth deer seasons. Violations encountered were allowing illegal hunting, hunting over bait, helmet required for juveniles, small amount of marijuana, and transporting a loaded firearm.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) received a complaint in the Bock area about a headless deer. Upon talking with the landowner, there was a large buck that was illegally shot and its head was removed. Anyone with information is encouraged to step forward or report it to the TIP line.

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