The Minnesota DNR's long-awaited survey of southeastern Minnesota deer hunters has been released, and it confirms that a majority of hunters there — though not an overwhelming majority — want yearling bucks protected in some form.

A similar majority wants a regulation change that would require hunters in that part of the state to shoot their own bucks. Presently, southeast Minnesota is governed by the same "party hunting'' regulations for deer that apply to the rest of the state.

The survey was conducted this fall and targeted 3,000 deer hunters age 18 and older who hunted either the 3A or 3B firearm deer season last year.

A total of 1,740 hunters responded to the survey, resulting in a margin of error of 2.2 percent.

Results included:

●       53 percent support enacting regulations that protect a majority
of yearling bucks.
●       54 percent support implementing a four-day youth-only deer hunt
over what is commonly known as Minnesota Education Association (MEA)
●       50 percent support requiring hunters to shoot and tag their own
buck, rather than allowing cross-tagging.
●       47 percent support instituting an antler point restriction
●       41 percent support restoring the 3A season to 9 days.
●       34 percent support restoring the 3B season to 7 days.
●       31 percent support delaying the 3A firearm season one week.
●       18 percent support delaying the 3A firearm season to late

"It's interesting to note there weren't any differences in
attitudes between hunters from the 3A and 3B seasons,"
Cornicelli said in a news release accompanying the survey results. Cornicelli noted that in the survey 3A hunters self-identify as more traditional and
selective buck hunters whereas 3B hunters describe themselves as more
meat-oriented and less concerned about mature bucks.

Overall, Cornicelli said, a majority of hunters support regulations
that protect yearling bucks.

Support for yearling buck protection was lower than in other DNR surveys, but
the question was more specific on this survey, the DNR said. Previously, the agency has asked
generically if hunters supported mature buck regulations and support was
60 to 65 percent.

"This survey specifically mentioned protecting yearling bucks so it
wasn't surprising that overall support was slightly lower than
previously reported," Cornicelli said.

Here are other survey results:
●       24 percent also hunted the archery season and 15 percent also
hunted the muzzleloader season.
●       The average number of years a person has been hunting is 25
and they have hunted their specific deer area for 18.5 years.
●       30 percent hunt on land they own, 74 percent hunt on land they
don't own and 4 percent leased land for hunting.
●       Only 7 percent belonged to an organized hunting group.
●       Only 8 percent hunted exclusively on public land.
●       3 percent of landowners allow public hunting to anyone who

Whether the survey will result in yet more and different regulations for southeast Minnesota deer hunters is unknown. The agency has its ideas about what it might want to do. So do some hunters in the region who are vocal in their opinions and politically well-connected. And the Legislature doubtless will also weigh in, perhaps as early as its next session.

In 2003 the DNR made antlerless
permits available during the 3A season because of rising deer
numbers. The 3A season was also cut by two days that year and the 3B
season lengthened by two days. Youth hunters were allowed to hunt both
seasons beginning a year later.

The full survey report is available on the DNR Web site at

Note: Portions of the above report came directly from a DNR news release issued 12/9/2009.

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