Two Minnesota state legislators are sponsoring a bill that would end shotgun-only zones throughout the entire state for deer hunting.
During this session of the Minnesota State Legislature, state Rep. Chris Swedzinski and state Sen. Jeff Howe are pushing for this bill to be passed and signed into law.
Their hope is this action can drop the sometimes confusing, conflicting state rules around shotgun use in deer hunting. In the northern part of Minnesota, any firearm for big game hunting is legal because of its wooded areas. Meanwhile, in the southern part, only shotguns with slugs, legal handguns, or muzzleloaders are accepted since it has more farmland.
Deer Hunting Pros, Cons Weighed In Shotgun-Only Debate
Voices for passage say studies and injury statistics indicate rifles are no more dangerous than shotguns. Also, shotgun advancements allow hunters in the shotgun zone to accurately shoot from well over 100 yards away.
Those who want the shotgun-only zone to stay in more open agricultural areas cite safety and the idea that rifles would do too much damage to the overall deer population.
Mark Nohre, the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association’s Region 7 Director, said hunters’ reaction to getting rid of the shotgun-only zone is indifferent. His region includes Alexandria, Minn., which is in the middle of the shotgun and rifle zones.
“They don’t seem to care if it’s shotgun or if it’s rifle,” Nohre said. “All these areas are agricultural, and I actually think it’s a little safer than it is where I hunt up in the woods where you can’t see more than 100 yards.”
State Hunting Association Backs Removal Of Zone
The MDHA supports the bill to remove the shotgun-only zone.
“At last year’s annual meeting, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s membership voted to support legislation that would remove the shotgun-only zone in Minnesota,” Executive Director Craig Engwall said.
Engwall said support is based on assurances from Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources Enforcement that this won’t raise safety concerns.
Swedzinski believes there is bipartisan support for this deer hunting bill, noting that DNR supported other bills on this topic.
“I’m optimistic that, with the DNR on board and support from stakeholders, we can achieve bipartisan momentum in the Legislature and move this bill through the process,” Howe said.
He added that he’s continuing to work with legislators and get them up to speed on the bill.