DEER SEASON NOTEBOOK: A typical N.D. opener

There were a lot of hunters afield for the opening weekend of North Dakota's firearms deer season, but overall, the opener went smoothly in the areas closest to Grand Forks.

There were a lot of hunters afield for the opening weekend of North Dakota's firearms deer season, but overall, the opener went smoothly in the areas closest to Grand Forks.

Gary Rankin, district game warden for the state Game and Fish Department in Larimore, N.D., said he logged a lot of miles reissuing tags hunters had lost.

"I probably met 20 different hunters to issue lost tags, which meant I did quite a bit of running around," Rankin said. "We try to accommodate people as much as possible, but they may end up having to wait a day. It does take up a surprising amount of time."

He also replaced nearly 20 licenses the two days before deer season at scheduled sessions in Grand Forks and Turtle River State Park.

Rankin said he only issued three citations opening weekend - one for a shell in the chamber, one for inadequate blaze orange and a third for wrong sex or species, in which a hunter with an antlerless tag shot a buck.


He also responded to several trespass complaints, which will require further investigation before any tickets are issued.

Trespass complaints don't always turn into prosecutions.

Unit 2B, which was split into early and late seasons for several years before 2006, was awash in blaze orange, especially farther west, in the area from Petersburg to Aneta, N.D., Rankin said.

Overall, though, Rankin said, areas of 2B closer to Grand Forks had fewer hunters.

Unit 2C to the north of U.S. Highway 2 also appeared busier farther west, he said.

One possible reason, Rankin said, is areas farther west have more land enrolled in the state's Private Lands Open to Sportsmen, or PLOTS, program.

Anecdotally, Rankin said, hunter success might have been a little slower opening weekend than previous years.

"With the good weather, people were out pushing cover," he said. "I think overall, there'll be good success."


Rankin said one of the most impressive bucks he encountered opening weekend was shot south of Michigan, N.D. The antlers were massive, he said, and the rack had some non-typical points.

"They were to the point of having some webbing on them," he said. "It may not be a tremendous scorer - it wasn't non-typical enough to score there - but there were a lot of ounces of ivory."

Local processor takes

deer for VFW venison

jerky program

The owner of a new deer processing shop in Emerado, N.D., is participating in a Fargo VFW program to donate venison jerky to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nat Bornsen, who recently opened The Deer Shack in Emerado, said he decided to participate after hearing about the program earlier this fall. He's the only processor in northeastern North Dakota participating in the jerky donation program.

There's no work for hunters, Bornsen said; all they have to do is drop their deer off at his shop, and he'll make the jerky for the Fargo VFW members who run the program.


"I send a bill to the VFW out of Fargo, and they'll pick the jerky up at the end of season," he said.

So far, Bornsen said, there's not much awareness of the program locally. Bornsen opened his new shop Nov. 9.

"The only people that know about it are people coming in the door here, and I'm telling them about it," he said. "You can donate a whole deer or just a few chunks if you want."

As a plug for the new business, Bornsen says he offers full-service processing, which includes skinning, cutting and wrapping of the deboned meat, for $75. He also offers a full line of sausages and pepper sticks.

Mark Wagemann, commander of Fargo VFW Post 762, said this is the second year of the venison jerky program. Last year, he says, organizers shipped 2,000 pounds of jerky to soldiers serving overseas, and this year is shaping up to be even better.

Other processors participating in the program are Schmitty's in Davenport, N.D.; Maple Valley Lockers in Enderlin, N.D.; Casselton Cold Storage in Casselton, N.D.; and Valley Meats in Valley City, N.D.

For more information, contact Bornsen of The Deer Shack at (701) 741-0488 or the Fargo VFW Web site at .

Antlered doe


For the second time in three years, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in northwestern Minnesota encountered an antlered doe.

Jeremy Woinarowicz, conservation officer for the DNR in Thief River Falls, said a hunter shot the antlered doe Nov. 10 near Angus, Minn., northeast of East Grand Forks.

He said the doe had a single spike about 5 inches long. By comparison, the antlered doe shot in 2005 along the Red River had an eight-point rack.

The antlered doe shot last weekend also was lactating.

"She had a milk bag a fawn had been sucking on that was still wet," Woinarowicz said. "She had an antler, but was still reproducing."

Woinarowicz, who was watching the hunting group make a drive when the antlered doe was shot, said the hunter wasn't sure whether to tag the deer as a buck or a doe.

The verdict? "He had to tag it as an antlered deer," Woinarowicz said.

Another deer oddity occurred near Staples, Minn., where a hunter contacted conservation officer Jeff Halvorson about a buck that had three ears. Halvorson investigated and, sure enough, the buck had an extra smaller ear behind its left ear.


Woinarowicz, whose work area includes parts of Polk, Marshall and Kittson counties, all of Pennington County, and part of Beltrami County to the north edge of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, said he hadn't seen any official tallies on deer success. His feeling, though, is that the harvest might be down.

Deer season in the eastern part of his work area is open through Sunday.

On the plus side, no accidents occurred in his work area, he said. And the road hunting complaints that were so widespread a couple of years ago were down noticeably this year, he said.

Trespassing was the most common complaint, Woinarowicz said, followed by the transport of uncased or loaded firearms.

The officer also encountered a handful of baiting violations. In one case, he said, hunters with a beautiful food plot of alfalfa, soybeans and clover poured two five-gallon buckets of corn in front of their stands. In another case, a hunter dumped a pile of screenings just 12 steps from the base of his stand.

Baiting is illegal for deer hunting in Minnesota.

"People are trying to skirt (the regulation) by saying this is a natural farming practice, that they have to drop old corn or wheat somewhere," Woinarowicz said. "But then they put it right below their stands."

Bovine TB update


The DNR exceeded its goal of testing 1,000 deer for bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota.

According to Dr. Michelle Carstenson, wildlife health program coordinator for the DNR, crews wrapped up testing last weekend, sampling 1,025 deer during the regular firearms season and 60 during the early antlerless hunt.

Two "suspect" deer, both adult bucks, were collected for further testing opening weekend after showing clinical signs of the disease, Carstenson said. Both of the deer were taken in the core of the TB outbreak area near Skime, Minn.

If the bucks ultimately test positive, the number of confirmed cases will stand at 15, out of more than 2,500 deer sampled since 2005.

The two bucks were the only animals to show obvious symptoms of the disease, Carstenson said, and it will be several weeks before test results from the lymph node samples taken from the remaining deer are available.

Carstenson said the findings are encouraging because the prevalence rate in deer is low and appears to decreasing, and the cases aren't spreading beyond the area near Skime, where TB was found in a handful of cattle herds in 2005.

No young deer showed clinical symptoms of the disease, either, she said.

Carstenson said DNR staff will meet with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health in the next few weeks to consider future actions for eradicating the disease.

The DNR in February will conduct another aerial survey to assess deer numbers in the TB core area, Carstenson said. She said it's too soon to say whether there'll be any special hunts or federal sharpshooting efforts like the one conducted last winter.

Reach Dokken at 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 148, or .

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