Hunting ‘Mansions’ on Public Land Irk Minnesota Officials

Officials in St. Louis County are fired up about hunters building elaborate shacks and cutting down trees for shooting lanes in the northern Minnesota public land available to hunters.

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

An aerial photo shows timber cut in a spoke fashion from a stand on public land. (Photo: St. Louis County Department of Lands and Mines)

Not only are deer hunters building bigger shooting houses, some of them on private land, some on public, but the officials claim hunters are cutting trees and planting food plots on public land to attract deer.

A report Sunday in the Duluth News Tribune offered details and it sounds like a brouhaha is in the works. The county’s public lands probably have similar regulations to others throughout the country prohibiting cutting trees or plants, leaving permanent stands or even climbing or ladder stands overnight, or introducing or removing plants.

But it seems to be the large shooting houses being erected that is sparking the most ire.

“We’re getting over-built. We’re seeing mansions out there — basically hunting shacks on stilts,” Bob Krepps, St. Louis County land commissioner, told the News Tribune.

Krepps said hunters may do as they please on private land. But he believes the nearly 1 million acres of public land in St. Louis County isn’t the place for shooting houses, food plots or cutting timber.

“What they are doing by building these palaces is claiming a piece of public land as their own. That’s not right,” Krepps told the News Tribune. “A lot of these cross the line of what’s appropriate.”

County forest manager Mark Kailanen may have taken it over the line, though, by suggesting that deer hunters shouldn’t be using any form of shack or house.

The newspaper’s report stated: There’s a range of what people might agree is acceptable, said Mark Kailanen, who manages county forests in the northern half of St. Louis County. No one would argue with someone standing on a rock and few would protest a few 2-by-4s in a tree. But deer hunting should involve at least a chance of the deer hearing, seeing and smelling the hunter to keep it a fair chase hunt, Kailanen said. The hunter, Kailanen said, should be outdoors, not indoors.

Sounds like an imposition of ethics – his ethics – when there may be no state or area law, regulations or rules prohibiting shooting houses for hunting. Who is Kailanen to say how a hunter may legally hunt or what is fair chase if the deer are wild and free ranging? If he wants to sit on a rock in November or December, fine and dandy. Another hunter may want to be in a blind, up a tree in a stand, or maybe in a “mansion” with a portable heater and the latest issue of Deer & Deer Hunting.

Fortunately, the News Tribune reported, Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said his group stands ready to help educate hunters on public land hunting rules, especially against cutting trees. But Johnson said rules, and personal ethics, vary greatly on how elaborate stands should be. The association has no formal stance on the issue, he said.

Read the full story here.

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