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Friday, June 27, 2014

City Limits Deer Hunting

City Limits Deer Hunting
Bob Bohland



It is no secret that many metropolitan areas hold large amounts of deer. To the average homeowner, they can be a huge problem. They eat a lot of decorative plants and love to spend time in the middle of roads. We have all seen them in our neighborhoods, and wish we could pull the trigger on them. Well, let me tell you a secret, if you are a bowhunter, you can take a crack at some of these deer, and there are some monsters in the metro!

The privilege to hunt in populated areas can change from year to year, and often requires a lot of research and applications. Don’t let this discourage you though; a simple Google search with the words “archery hunt” and whatever locale you are interested in will bring you a wealth of information. Many of these hunts are also published in local newspapers and some are even listed in the Minnesota DNR Hunting Regulations. Keep in mind that many of these hunts are limited to a very few hunters, however you can gain preference points if you are unsuccessful at first; So don’t be disappointed if you are unable to secure a permit in your first year of applying.

If you live in the Twin Cities area, one great group to look into is the Metro Bowhunters’ Resource Base (MBRB). The MBRB is a volunteer organization that teams with cities and park departments to help reduce the size of an urban deer herd in a cost-effective manner. So, instead of bringing in an expensive company that will thin out animal population, they bring in people that are willing to pay for the ability to hunt in, essentially, their own backyards. The MBRB was formed in 1995 by several leading Minnesota Archery organizations. Their mission statement read:, “The MBRB's purpose is to demonstrate archery's effectiveness as a deer management tool and to convey a positive image of bowhunting while providing additional bowhunting opportunities to urban bowhunters." They are an entirely volunteer organization and they encourage hunters to help out wherever they can.

In the Duluth area, the hunts are administered by the Arrowhead Bowhunters Alliance (ABA). The ABA is an all-volunteer organization consisting of around 8-10 board members. Their hunt covers around 30,000 acres, and they generally have around 300-400 hunters. Their hunters are placed in much larger zones than other metro hunting organizations and are encouraged to work with private landowners in their drawn zones to help thin out more of the herd. They even instituted their own “Hunting Hotspot” program. According to the ABA, “These are highly controlled hunts focused on harvesting the maximum number of antlerless deer possible in the shortest period of time while maintaining minimum impact on a the area / neighborhood being hunted.” This program is only available for hunters returning to the ABA, and the group has final say on if a hunter can be allowed to participate. The Hot Spot hunts are extremely limited in spaces, and less than 20 or 30 of the 380+ hunters will EVER get placed into a Hot Spot. However, even without getting into one of the Hot Spot zones, the Duluth area boasts one of the highest success rates for metro bowhunts at around 1.98 deer per hunter each season.

The ABA is one of the first to institute a numbered arrow system. Each hunter in the program is required to “write their Hunter ID number on all arrows they have in their possession while in the field” They list several reasons for this practice, which started at the beginning of the 2013 season:
1. To reduce the amount of time the ABA officials spend during the hunting season investigating
incidents involving lost deer and/or arrows
2. To quickly and efficiently aid in the recovery of deer to maximize the chance the animal can be salvaged
3. To quickly and efficiently aid in connecting lost deer with the hunter who shot it
4. To help assure the City Officials that an ABA hunter isn’t responsible when poached deer are
found, and
5. To help reconnect lost arrows with their rightful owners.

Many locations require a proficiency test for archers looking to join a hunt, while some require nothing more than an application (generally, the more outstate locations do not require you pass a test). A standard requirement includes completion of the Minnesota DNR’s Bowhunting Safety Class and a shooting test. This test can be done at many archery shops, but your hunt may require they be done at certain locations. Some of the more restricted hunts even include a secondary shooting test in front of their judges with broadheads and your hunting clothing on. A standard proficiency test (from the MBRB website) is: Standard qualification: 5 of 7 arrows at an 8" circle at 20 yards. Sharpshooter qualification: 6 of 7 arrows at a 4" circle at 20 yards. Yet other locations require nothing more than a successful application.

In a time of urban sprawl and housing developments continuing their march across the landscape, we often hear of the damage deer will do to not only homeowners gardens, but also the damage they inflict in the all too common traffic accidents. Groups like the MBRB and the ABA offer a no-cost alterrnative to cities to reduce their deer herds. A city in Rhode Island last year spent over $128,000 to bring in sharpshooters to control the deer population, and it is estimated they will need to continue this over the next 4 years to even get a handle on their burgeoning population of whitetail. Other municipalities are trying a version of deer birth control, but this can cost from $300-1000 per animal. These cities do not realize that there are groups of people that are more than willing to pay for the opportunity to safely remove and consume the deer that quickly become a problem for most suburbanites.

For more information on city hunts near you, please visit: mbrb.org, bowhuntersalliance.org, or check with your local city adminstrator.

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