Prairie Smoke Dunes Scientific and Natural Area open to deer hunting in 2008
Deer hunters have a new opportunity this fall in Norman County. The Prairie Smoke Dunes State Scientific and Natural Area (SNA), which has only been open to occasional special management hunts in the past, is now open for all regular 2008 deer seasons including early antlerless.
The 1,280-acre SNA, located about five miles south of Fertile, lies within deer permit area 265, an intensive deer area. During the regular seasons, a hunter may bag up to five deer, using any combination of valid licenses or permits, and up to two additional deer during the early anterless season.
According to Earl Johnson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) area wildlife manager in Detroit Lakes, deer population numbers are very high in and around the SNA.
“The mosaic of agricultural and non-agricultural lands has created perfect deer habitat,” said Johnson. “Deer populations are well above goals. We’re hoping that a good harvest will help reduce the number of deer/vehicle collisions and reduce habitat degradation and crop losses due to deer in the area.”
Hunters should note that although Prairie Smoke Dunes is open to hunting, the area has been set aside as an SNA because of its natural attributes and rare resources. These are managed by statute to preserve their exceptional scientific and educational value. Therefore, no person may damage vegetation on SNAs, and no motor vehicles may be used. Portable stands and elevated scaffold may be used only if it is removed each day at the close of shooting hours and does no damage to trees or other vegetation. Nails, spikes, screws or other devices that damage the bark of trees are prohibited.
Other regulations also remain in effect throughout the hunting seasons. The following are prohibited on SNAs: camping or picnicking, burning of any kind, disposal of garbage, refuse, sewage or trash, pets, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Johnson said he is hopeful that this season’s hunt is a success and that hunters will respect SNA rules. “Appropriate use of the SNA by hunters will increase the probability of future hunting opportunities there,” he said.
Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA is a glacial remnant once part of Lake Agassiz. It includes bur oak and northern pin oak remnant sand savanna and open dune faces on which aspen are encroaching. Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, a federally threatened species, has been found there.
To reach the Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA from Fertile, go five miles south on Minnesota Highway 32, then one mile west on gravel road (across from County Road 7). Park at the gated pull-off near large cottonwood trees. Hike one-quarter mile north to the dunes.
For further details about Prairie Smoke Dunes, the SNA Program or deer hunting seasons and regulations, visit mndnr.gov.