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Deer hunting guide: Vollbrecht enjoys being in the field

Brice Vollbrecht enjoys the challenges he faces each day in his role as a conservation officer in the Bemidji area. Vollbrecht and his peers currently are busy preparing for the upcoming firearms deer hunting season. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Brice Vollbrecht loves being outdoors and that is a good thing because the duties of his profession dictate that staying inside is not an option.

“I enjoy what I do,” Vollbrecht, who is a conservation officer in the Bemidji area, said, “and fall is the busiest time of the year. Just about everything is going on in the fall. The walleye fishing is at its best in the fall and there are hunting, boating and ATV activities.

“A conservation officer gets up in the fall and wonder’s what he needs to do that day. It’s a very exciting time of the year,” he added.

In a few weeks another fall activity will be added to the list as the firearms deer hunting season begins on Nov. 9. Vollbrecht and his fellow officers will be on duty during opening weekend and beyond and they will be anxious to hear how the hunters are doing.

“It is fun to visit with the people and see how things are going,” Vollbrecht said. “Opening day of the deer hunting season is a busy day but it also is a fun day.”

Vollbrecht will have a game plan for opening weekend but, as is the case most years, the plan is likely to change before the morning is over.

“Our schedules depend on the calls we get,” Vollbrecht said. “Last year I was planning on working a baiting situation but then I helped deal with the hunter who was shot near Concordia Language Camp.

“I try to establish a plan but most of the time I have to play things by ear. My schedule depends on the calls I receive so I could end up going anywhere.”

Among the calls Vollbrecht fields during the firearms hunting season are those dealing with trespassing, shiners and hunters who are using bait. When he does encounter someone who is breaking the law his training and his instincts must kick in.

“To be a conservation officer you need to be able to talk with people and put them at ease,” Vollbrecht said. “You also need to be self motivated and be able to make quick decisions. You are going to get into situations and you have to be able to get yourself out of them.

“But I enjoy the job,” he continued. “We know how and where to work and we don’t have anybody telling us where to go.”

Veteran deer hunters are familiar with what they can and cannot do in the field and all who do not fully understand the regulations should consult the DNR booklet.

There are very few changes to the rules this year but the most significant one regards registering the deer.

“This year hunters must register their deer within 48 hours of taking the animal,” Vollbrecht said.

Prior to this year hunters could wait until 24 hours after the expiration of the season to register their deer.

“Registering the deer is easy to do,” the conservation officer continued. “You can do it in person, with the phone or with the computer. But the new regulation is a minor change that people need to be aware of.”

During his travels this fall Vollbrecht has monitored the area deer population and his observations indicate that the deer numbers are similar to what they were at this time last fall.

“I think I’m seeing a few more deer this year,” he said. “I’m seeing many does and fawns in the road ditches during the evenings and I’m seeing a few basket bucks. I haven’t seen any big bucks yet but that could change when the rut starts.”

A year ago Vollbrecht and other are law enforcement officials had to respond to a fatality on opening day. Beltrami County sheriff officials received a report at 9:01 a.m. about a deer hunter being shot by another hunter in Turtle River Township. When officials arrived at the site, about nine miles northeast of Bemidji near Concordia Language Camp, they found the hunter dead at the scene.

“Being safe is the most important thing for deer hunters,” Vollbrecht said. “You must identify what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

“And hunters should plan ahead. If there is private property around your hunting area you should talk to the adjoining landowners before the season to let them know that you may need to retrieve a wounded animal on their property.”

Vollbrecht also would appreciate contact from the public if someone witnesses a violation.

“I can’t be everywhere at one time so if you see a violation call the TIP line (1-800-652-9093),” he said.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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