CANNON FALLS, MINN. - Noah Vaillant, a 16-year-old deer hunter from Andover, doesn't like the antler-point restrictions in southeast Minnesota where he hunts.
"It should be the hunter's choice to decide what to shoot,'' he told Department of Natural Resources officials at a public meeting on Monday night in Cannon Falls.
But Terry Krahn, 61, of Pine Island, Minn., supports the regulations. "We need to do something,'' he said, to boost the maturity of the deer herd.
The pair were among 90 hunters who turned out for the first of two meetings on the controversial southeast deer regulations. The second meeting is 7-9 Wednesday night in Winona.
The issue is whether the antler-point restrictions launched three years ago will be continued or dropped. The DNR is holding the public meetings and will accept additional comments on its website -- www.dnr.state.mn.us -- starting Thursday.
But support for the idea, which allows only bucks with at least four points on one antler to be killed, has increased, according to preliminary results from a DNR random survey of southeast hunters. Sixty-one percent want the experimental regulations to continue, up from about 50 percent in 2009, when the restrictions began.
However, the Legislature passed a law last year preventing the DNR from continuing the regulations; that law must be changed this session if the antler-point restrictions are to continue next fall.
The issue is a social one, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
"We can manage deer either way; it just depends on what kind of a deer hunting experience people want,'' he said.
He told the crowd the DNR won't make a recommendation until April, after the public comments are tallied. The Legislature is set to adjourn May 20.