The first Mankato deer hunt was held in 2003. It continues in 2013.
The first hunt centered on the Rasmussen Woods area off Stoltzman Road. Today, Ed Pankratz says hunters go wherever they are needed in the city.
Pankratz has been a bow hunter his whole life, and when city officials decided to have the deer hunt, he volunteered to coordinate it. He was the director of the Mankato Central Garage in 2003. He retired five years ago, but he still coordinates the hunts.
“It would be hard for someone who is not a bow hunter to do it,” he says.
Pankratz has tweaked the program more than once during its first 10 years.
“The big thing was getting hunters to realize this is a management hunt, not a trophy hunt," he said, adding that hunters now have to shoot a doe before they can shoot a buck. “Shooting does is the only way you’re going to manage the population."
That requirement changed early in the process, Pankratz says, when the 30 hunters shot three trophy bucks.
In addition to Rasmussen Park, hunters are now deployed to areas along Glenwood Avenue and Thompson Ravine Road as well. Most of the hunt is conducted on city-owned property, but other hunters are located on private property.
“If someone has a deer problem, they just have to call the city, or call me,” Pankratz said. He goes out and scouts the area to determine if the problem warrants a hunter being stationed there. “I know of places where there are a lot of deer, but the residents don’t have a problem with them, so they are OK there.”
Hunters must provide their own deer stand, and it’s required to be elevated.
“We look for the best spots, and the best hunters,” Pankratz said.
Interested hunters must qualify in a proficiency testing process at Kiwanis Park in August. Of those who qualify, names are drawn for a chance to hunt. About 80 people register for the test, and about 10 to 15 people annually don’t qualify.