Confusion, Potential Re-Count Cast Shadows Over Minnesota Deer Season


      The Minnesota Department of Natural resources reported today that a

large number of deer hunters in several Minnesota counties were

reportedly confused by the state's new electronic licenses this past

season.  The result of the confusion, according to DNR officials in St.

Paul, was that many hunters actually shot and registered two deer when

their license only allowed them the opportunity to shoot one. 


      The "double-registration" poses no small amount of legal issues in the

eyes of the DNR as it invalidates both deer and may require that those

animals be returned to the wild no matter what condition they may be in

now.  In light of the double-harvest, a manual recount of all deer

killed this season might have to be undertaken by the state's auditor's

office to get an accurate tabulation of what is available out there for

future hunting. 


      Hunters, on the other hand, have gathered in the TwinCities in huge

numbers to protest the potential recall, claiming that the licenses

  were difficult to understand and that a "re-hunt" should be scheduled

 for anyone who didn't feel they got all the paperwork right in

the first place.


       "I was so confused by that sticky little license thing with all its

computerized numbers and letters," claimed one hunter who asked to

remain anonymous, "that I just figured I'd shoot everything that walked

by and then I'd be sure to have killed at least one of what I was

supposed to have killed. I didn't know this hunting thing needed a lot

of brainwork, anyway.  After all, it's not like voting or anything, is


        DNR officials view the fiasco differently, however.  "The law is the

law", cited License Bureau spokesperson Bob Bustemgood,

"double-registration invalidates the original license, making all those

deer null and void in the eyes of the state.  They, therefore, must be

returned to the woods, or at least the roadside ditches, where they were

shot in the first place.  Of course if antlers have been sawed off they

must be re-glued to the head before throwing the animal out of the back

of the pick-up." 


      "Besides, there is no legal precedent for a re-hunt," continued an

unsympathetic Bustemgood, "so all those chanting fools outside my office

window can pack up and go home.  Or better yet, they can move to

Florida where, apparently, the State government allows dumb people to

participate in public affairs, too."


      But as the controversy continued to unfold, complaints poured in from

disgruntled hunters around Minnesota. "The way we saw it," grumbled one

unhappy group of seven who had filled no tags at all, "was that the State's

Absentee Ballot looked so similar to the new deer-license format that we

mixed up the two.  We thought Pat Buchanan was Latin or something for

"big Buck" and all week long we thought we were supposed to be hunting

just that, so we passed on all does and anything under ten points."


      Another hunter, Jack Pine from Savage, MN,  claims that in moving

the scratch-off 'date and sex' spots from the left side of the license to

the right, the state forced him to hold his buck-knife in a hand that he

was unaccustomed to and caused bodily injury.  " I'm only good with a

knife in my left hand cause I lost two fingers on the right to my

chainsaw a few years back.  With the dots on th'other side I try'n cut

them out with my bum hand and I slip and 'whoooosh', off'n comes three

o' my lefty fingers and now I'm down to five fingers between both hands

and I'm back to bein' righty agin.  I sure wish they hadn't moved them

dots."  Pine's lawyer has filed suit against the state, citing emotional

as well as physical damage, adding that his client would "dearly love to

give those insensitive bureaucrats "the finger", though considering the

circumstances, that's not much of an option anymore."


      The final chapter of this year's hunting dilemmas may not be known

anytime soon.  The snow-ball effect of legal challenges, combined with

an historically immovable DNR,  added to an already slow moving and

overloaded legal system might see this deadlock last for months.  If a

re-count is called for, workers at the Capitol in St. Paul will

certainly need days, if not weeks, to prepare the rotunda of that

building with plastic sheeting and newspaper for the tens of thousands

of deer carcasses that will be housed there during the tedious manual

tabulation process.

"We'll do whatever we must to get this done right," confirmed

Bustemgood. "We should be able to handle a manual re-count in less than

a couple of months.  We'll have some added motivation with the potential

for an early thaw come late February because we certainly don't want

those piles of deer starting to rot in as important a public building as

the Capitol.  That could cast a bad smell across Minnesota politics for

years to come and that's the last thing we need."


Timothy Lyon

Baudette, MN