Minnesota Outdoors Logo


Minnesota Outdoors

Star Tribune

Firearms, bows, trail cams: DNR auction of confiscated gear begins



Online bidding has started on everything from firearms to bows to trail cams – even a 13-point shoulder mount -- confiscated out in the field by Minnesota conservation officers.

The outdoor gear is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ second online auction in two months and runs through Saturday morning. The auctions are online owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hiller Auction Service in Zimmerman, Minn., is again the auctioneer. View the items and the bidding process rules here, including details about in-person inspection of the items allowed Friday. Hiller is online at hillerauction.com.

Joe Albert, DNR law enforcement spokesman, said two auctions were scheduled this fall because of the large volume of gear taken in from fish and game violators. There wasn’t an auction in 2019.

The first auction in early September included 245 firearms, 35 bows and 87 pieces of miscellaneous equipment such as traps, fishing equipment, lights and tree stands. The auction pulled in about $157,000, Albert said. All of the revenue goes into the Game and Fish Fund, which supports the DNR’s myriad law enforcement programs.

Good weather boosts outlook for Minnesota pheasant hunters

Minnesota’s pheasant population flourished this year amid favorable weather conditions and increased habitat, a breakthrough that should be noticeable to ringneck hunters when the season opens Oct. 10.

The state’s wildlife populations and research group in Madelia reported Tuesday that the 2020 range-wide pheasant index grew 42 percent from a year ago. Researchers completed the roadside survey during the first couple of weeks in August, driving 153 25-mile routes. Collectively they counted 53.5 birds per 100 miles of road. The same survey last year yielded a range-wide count of 37.6 birds per 100 miles.

“Hunting opportunities should be excellent throughout the farmland region in 2020,’’ the Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.

The DNR said a mild winter and nesting-friendly conditions this spring led to greater numbers of broods, which drove the increase. Researchers have documented improved, long-term breeding success of hens even though overall pheasant numbers in the state have greatly declined in the long-term.

Also contributing to the 2020 population surge were increases in acres of pheasant habitat on private and public lands. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres grew in farm country by 10,000 acres while various government entities added a combined 20,000 acres of habitat since last year, the DNR said.

Annual changes in roadside counts among regions generally mirrored statewide trends, the DNR said. Pheasant numbers increased the most in the southwest region and the DNR’s updated map of 2020 hunting prospects gives its highest rating to all or parts of the following counties: Big Stone, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Lac Qui Parle, Kandiyohi, Brown, Murray, Rock, Lyon, Watonwan, Nicollet, Redwood, Cottonwood, Jackson, Blue Earth, Stevens, Lincoln, Pipestone and Todd.