Although the Minnesota bow hunting season starts in September, Mankato does not open for hunting until sometime in October, according to Pankratz.
“We had people tell us they wanted to walk to look at the fall colors, and didn’t want to be among hunters, so we accommodated them.”
Hunters also have to follow a rigid set of rules. If a deer is shot, and the hunter needs to track it across private property, he or she must first get permission from the homeowner. One hunter failed to get permission, and was let go for violating the trespass standard.
Hunters must also agree to actually hunt.
“If someone only goes out one or two times, we don’t want them back,” he said, noting that one hunter went out 45 times last year.
Hunters must call into a phone number after each hunt. They need to record if they shot a deer, whether it was a buck, doe or fawn, and even if they didn’t bag a deer, they need to report the number of deer they saw.
In 2003, hunters reported seeing 622 deer during the city’s season. Last year, they reported seeing 347 deer.
“That tells me there are a lot less deer out there,” he said.
Though the method for gathering incident information was imprecise, the hunt has not necessarily reduced the number of deer-related police calls in town. But Pankratz said anecdotally that fewer deer are seen as road kill along Stoltzman Road now than in years past.
Kelly and Mark Peterson live on Ridgewood Street in Mankato, up the hill from Rasmussen Park. Their yard is filled with hostas, once described as “Haagen-Dazs for deer” during the initial community meetings in 2003.
“Mark used to spray this awful smelling stuff on them to keep the deer away,” Kelly said. “He hasn’t had to do that for a couple of years, now.”
Though they used to see deer in their yard quite often, she said it’s been a long time since she has seen that. She said she sees deer in Rasmussen Park from her windows, “but they stay there, now.”
To register for this year's hunt or find more information, contact Pankratz at 507-317-5251 or email@example.com.