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DNR officers urge caution for anglers venturing out on early ice

One group of anglers on Blackduck Lake avoided a patch of ice when their chisel broke through the ice and revealed only about 2.5 inches in that location.

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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, Nov. 28.

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) maintained station equipment and checked hunters during the opening weekend of the muzzleloader season.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) assisted the Kittson County Sheriff’s Office with a call of two mature buck deer locked together. After numerous attempts to get close enough to go “hands-on” with the bucks, it was determined the only safe way to dislodge the antlers was with a well-placed long-gun round. A Kittson County deputy struck the main beam of one of the bucks, breaking the rack and setting both deer free to fight another day.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports checking anglers and small game and muzzleloader deer hunters this past week. Blackduck Lake has seen the most activity by early ice anglers, who are experiencing a slow bite and ice depths of about 4 to 6 inches. One group avoided a patch of ice when their chisel broke through the ice and revealed only about 2.5 inches in that location. Regas cautions anglers to use a chisel or spud to test and monitor ice conditions when venturing out on early ice. Violations encountered and addressed this past week included possession of northern pike within the protected slot, angling license not in possession and shooting from a motor vehicle.

In the Blackduck area, new snow improved trail conditions, and snowmobilers were out on the trails despite the mercury dropping below zero over the weekend.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports significant fishing pressure on Upper Red Lake. Fishing success dropped off quickly as angler pressure increased. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license in possession.


Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) patrolled with COC Paavola. Follow up continued for cases from this year’s bear and firearms deer seasons. Time was also spent checking muzzleloader deer hunters and ice anglers. Enforcement action for the week included failure to register a bear bait station and operating an ATV in a wildlife management area.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) followed up on cases from the firearms deer season. Muzzleloader deer season activity was worked and time was spent conducting deer farm inspections. The first ice anglers of the year were checked. Caution is advised on Bemidji-area lakes, as ice depths vary greatly.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports some snowmobiling activity early in the week but temperatures in the mid-40s later in the week took care of much of the snow. A TIP was investigated of possible deer overlimit.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week following up on cases from the deer season and checking the first ice anglers. Ice conditions improved slightly during the week, but warm conditions did not help over the weekend. Some muzzleloader hunters were seen over the weekend, but foggy conditions made hunting difficult in much of the area. Swedberg also assisted Becker County with a DUI arrest.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, assisted with a complaint of shooting from the roadway and worked ongoing cases.


CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working small game, migratory waterfowl and deer hunting enforcement. It was a slow start to the muzzleloader deer season over the weekend. Time was also spent conducting deer farm inspections.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on wildlife management area and waterfowl production area activity. Follow up continued on open cases. Area lakes were monitored for ice and angling activity. Ice conditions vary, with some lakes still open and others having iced over. People are reminded to use caution, as warmer weather the past few days has changed conditions considerably.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) continued working with COC Fox. Time was spent following up on deer hunting cases and checking for waterfowl and pheasant hunting activity. With the warm weather, some areas that were ice-covered are now open water again. Anglers should exercise patience and wait a week or so. Calls from the public included reports of injured animals, including a fawn that was impaled on a fence.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) reports minimal activity afield while checking pheasant, waterfowl and muzzleloader deer hunters. Many of the geese and mallards appeared to have moved on, as most of the smaller bodies of water are now ice-covered. A few ice anglers were checked upon returning to shore. They reported 2 to 4 inches of ice and no fish in the bucket.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) checked early ice anglers out on some first ice. Anxious anglers need to take caution with warmer weather affecting ice conditions. Plautz worked opening weekend of muzzleloader season, with scattered hunter activity. Plautz continued to monitor small game hunters and trapping activity. Several injured-animal calls were handled through the week.

CO Ryan Brown (Elbow Lake) continued to monitor pheasant hunters through the week. Brown reports not many muzzleloader hunters out for the opener. Ice anglers have made an appearance, with a few anglers venturing out on the bodies of water. Be sure to check ice depths before going out as the ice is still unstable in spots.


CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked muzzleloader and archery deer hunters, pheasant hunters and ice anglers. Several lakes have frozen over but the ice is thin. Please use safety measures when venturing on the ice.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) continued field training COC Anderson. Area activity has increased with overlapping hunting seasons and a few individuals noted ice fishing. The officers focused on waterfowl, pheasant and deer hunting activity. Calls were fielded for trespassing concerns and dumped geese. Enforcement action taken for the week included no federal waterfowl stamp, no small game license and no state waterfowl stamp. With inconsistent temperatures, ice conditions can change quickly, so use caution.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) continued working on follow up from the firearms deer season. ATV enforcement was worked. She also assisted local law enforcement agencies.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) spent time completing various tasks for the Division. Questions were also answered regarding the muzzleloader season.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and pheasant and deer hunters. Additional time was spent investigating wetland violations and checking late-season waterfowl hunters. Ice conditions vary greatly around the area, with some open water still being found. Anglers are urged to use extreme caution if venturing onto area lakes.

Osakis – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking small game and deer hunters. Anglers are starting to get out on the early ice, as well. He would like anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of changing ice conditions during the early ice season and to make personal safety a priority.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) continued field training COC Znajda. They investigated cases of illegal deer dumping in addition to several unregistered deer. Loaded firearms in vehicles and untagged-deer investigations resulted in various enforcement action. Hunters are reminded to wear an adequate amount of blaze clothing during the muzzleloader season.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked deer hunting activity and followed up with ongoing cases.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) continued to work on big game cases from this fall. He also spent time winterizing station patrol boats and other seasonal equipment. Ice conditions remain poor in the area, and several lakes still have open water.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked muzzleloader deer hunters. One complaint of shooting deer from the roadway was investigated and eventually led to enforcement action taken for deer hunting violations. A few ice anglers were seen out on the ice. Open water to about 4 inches of ice was seen on area lakes. Extreme caution must be used if venturing out on the ice at this time.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked archery deer/muzzleloader hunting, small game hunting and early ice fishing. Hunters reported tough deer hunting and few deer were seen. Cross checked a few small game hunters who had luck bagging a few ruffed grouse. Additionally, Cross checked some early ice anglers who had mixed success. Cross reminds people the ice in the area is extremely unpredictable and ranges from no ice to around 3 inches.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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