The 2020 Minnesota Legislative season opened on Feb. 11 and a quick search of outdoors related topics that may end up being discussed in the halls of St. Paul pulled up very little in the way of pressing issues.
Chronic Wasting Disease is still a front burner issue of course and at some point, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials will have to take a hard look at what this winter did to the state’s deer herd up north to set season limits.
But beyond that, nothing significant has popped yet.
I’m interested to see if legislators take another stab at allowing state anglers to fish open water with two lines.
The conversation seems to come up every year.
In 2019, Republicans in the state Senate voted to allow anglers the option of using two lines by paying and extra $5 for the privilege.
It went nowhere – again – as the Democratic-controlled House was against it from the start.
What a strange issue for partisan politics.
I’ve never understood why Minnesota fishermen and women can’t use two lines in the summer. You can use two lines in the winter and two lines are allowed on border waters like the St. Croix and the Mississippi Rivers.
And plenty of other states allow two rods in the summer including our neighbors Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota.
One argument I’ve heard over the years is the powers that be feel that fish will be accidentally hurt or killed because people can’t handle using two fishing rods at the same time.
This line of thought comes from the same group of people who want to regulate how much soda you drink in a day.
Another argument against it is people will catch too many fish, which given the excuse that we can’t handle two lines at once, seems a little – pardon the pun - fishy.
So which is it: We can’t handle two lines, or we will suddenly become two-armed fish catching machines and wipe out the walleye population?
It really just comes down to over regulation and big government holding our hands and telling us what is best for everyone.
I know plenty of people who fish with two lines in the water in the summer, illegal or not. It happens all the time and has been happening for years. Some people get around it by just throwing a couple kids in the boat and using them as lines number two, three and four.
And still the lakes are full of fish and life goes on.
So why not just charge the extra $5 and get it over with. Make a little cash – something the state and the DNR is always looking for – and let us worry about how many lines we can handle.
Another issue that usual gets some lip service each session is the use of crossbows during the archery deer season.
Currently only people 60 and over with a valid archery license may take deer during the regular archery season while anyone under a regular firearms license can hunt deer with a crossbow during the firearms seasons.
Disabled persons with a valid permit and archery license may also hunt with crossbows or use a bow with a mechanical device that draws, releases, or holds the bow at full draw.
There are plenty of opinions amongst deer hunters on this topic and usually discussions get heated quickly as bow hunters sometimes see themselves as a different breed than rifle hunters.
I think they view archery hunting as a more traditional and challenging way to stalk deer. They also like the idea of having the woods to themselves for much of September, October and December, since there are a lot fewer archery deer hunters in the state than rifle hunters.
And if you ask some archery guys and gals, they even think using today’s high-tech compound boys is too easy and would rather archery season only feature long bows like something you’d find in a Lord of the Rings movie.
In their eyes, seeing hunters take the field with a crossbow, which can be accurate up to 75 yards or so depending on how much practice puts in, is basically cheating.
There is also concern cross bows during the archery season might put more pressure on the deer herd.
Personally, I don’t see a problem adding crossbows to the early season mix. Bagging a deer is not easy for most people regardless of the weapon they choose and regardless of season in Minnesota, you can still only shoot one buck statewide, so I don’t imagine it would affect the population all that much.
And pulling back a compound bow isn’t easy for some people who might want to enjoy a warm weather early fall deer hunt but have physical issues that don’t qualify as a disability but are still restrictive.
Annual Deer Meeting
The Tower Area DNR office at 650 Highway 169 in Tower will be the site of this year’s annual Deer Season Open House. The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
This meeting is a chance for hunters, landowners and other interested folks to give their input on the local deer population for northern St. Louis and Lake Counties.
Tower area DNR Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch will give a short update on the 2019 deer harvest, winter severity and the prospects for the 2020 season.
Public input will follow.