by Ron Hustvedt
There are a lot of hunters in the Star News coverage area.
The amount of camouflage and blaze orange worn by people throughout the fall and winter reveals that fact quite well. Ask most of them where they hunt and the answer is likely somewhere 50 miles or further away from town.
Perhaps it’s the allure of a hunting trip to a faraway destination or maybe it’s because people don’t know the opportunities right here in our backyard. Throughout the area, there are several state and Federal lands open to hunting not to mention thousands of acres of private property that are well worth the legwork it takes to hunt them.
Visit the Department of Natural Resources website and use the recreation compass to find the state lands. Check out the Federally run Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge as well. For private lands, flip through a plat book and go knock on the door to ask permission.
Cities like Elk River also have a favorable attitude toward hunters that is uncommon throughout the Twin Cities. “We try to be hunter friendly,” said Sargent Dave Dummer of the Elk River police department. “If we have homeowners who want to hunt it’s silly to not let them hunt and instead bring in sharpshooters like other nearby places,” he said.
Elk River has a strict discharge law prohibiting firearms and hunting-tipped arrows throughout most of the city. That is, unless a hunter and property owner get a special exemption from the city.
“Last year 180 permits were given out and that was our highest year,” Dummer said. Apparently more and more residents are catching on to the fantastic hunting in the area.
There are many more than those 180 who are hunting in the area because they are on the parcels of land where a special exemption is not required. We have no idea how many people are hunting on those areas but I think it’s a good-sized number, Dummer said.
Most of those permits were for archery deer hunters looking to thin the local deer herd that is very healthy. A few were for firearms deer hunters and a few for waterfowlers as well.
Even though a record number were given, there’s room for more applicants and more permits to be issued. “If we determine that an area can be safely hunted, we will generally issue the permit,” Dummer said.
Go to your city website and check out the information regarding hunting. For residents of Elk River, the link can be found by clicking here.
What’s there to hunt? Plenty.
Thanks to the Mississippi River, this is a fantastic area to waterfowl hunt for ducks and geese. There are also a lot of whitetail deer all over the place, many of which are well fed by feeders and gardeners. Turkey roam throughout the area not to mention pheasants and all forms of small game critters like squirrel, raccoon, fox and even a few grouse.
A former student of mine has a trail camera on his family’s Elk River property and he has some impressive bucks showing up year after year. He has yet to arrow a wall-mounter but has taken some nice does. I also wrote an article last year for a deer hunting magazine about the trophy bucks taken by the Thompson twins on their “north-of-town” property in Elk River.
This year, I’ve made an arrangement with a family in the area who has a 10-acre plot of land. They provids the land and I’ll provide the decoys, blinds and the coffee. We hope to do some early season goose hunting, which, if you haven’t tried it, is a ton of fun.
I’ll also have my still and video cameras out there to capture the hunt for perpetuity. It will be something that he and his son will be able to watch over and over again to remember the great times.
If you own a piece of land and you’d like me to come and hunt with you, please let me know and I’ll offer the same deal to you. I drink my coffee black, however, so you need to bring your own cream and sugar if you want some. Contact me at [email protected] for more details.
Otherwise, please post your thoughts on this issue and your favorite hunting story in town. You don’t need to get specific with your location, but please keep the stories to the Star News coverage area. What have you hunted? What success have you had?