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Hunters: Focus on new regulations

Since waterfowl season opened October 4 and most deer seasons open November 8, hunters should be aware of new regulations.

"Whether you are an avid hunter or just trying it for the first time, there are some new laws that may affect your hunting this year," Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, stated in a news release.

Here are just a few of the changes for deer hunting:

• The all-season deer and multi-zone buck licenses have been eliminated and hunters can now purchase three stand-alone licenses (archery, firearm, muzzle-loader).

• The traditional deer firearm zone licenses (1A, 2A, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B) have been consolidated into two license types - Statewide (A) and Late Southeast (B).

• A person may now take big game with a firearm only if the rifle, shotgun, or handgun used is at least .220 caliber and with center-fire ignition. In short, hunters who have longed to use their rifles chambered in .223 may now do so for big game.

Small game and waterfowlers will be interested in:

• Beginning March 1, 2009 Minnesota residents under 16 must obtain a free license from the DNR to hunt small game.

• Pictorial state migratory waterfowl and pheasant stamps no longer need to be signed across the face in order to be valid. In fact, you can simply purchase the endorsement along with your license unless you want to physically possess the stamp.

• Persons no longer need to be at least 20 yards away from an ATV before shooting a grouse.

• Beginning on December 1 of each year until the end of the season, the daily limit for pheasants increases from two to three, and the possession limit increases from six to nine.

• Persons hunting small game with non-toxic shot are no longer exempt from blaze orange requirements.

"Speaking of orange, this brings me to some thoughts on general safety for those of us out in the field and forest this fall," Ingebrigtsen said. "Even if it weren't required by law, blaze orange during firearms hunting season is a good idea for your own safety."

When small hunting, except when hunting wild turkeys, migratory birds, hunting by falconry, or trapping, the law requires at least one article of clothing worn above the waist be blaze orange, Ingebrigtsen said.

Big game hunters must have blaze orange on the visible portions of their caps and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves. This can include clothing in a camouflage pattern that is at least 50 percent blaze orange.

"Long story short - the life saved by wearing blaze orange may be your own," Ingebrigtsen said.

For more information about hunting laws, check with the Department of Natural Resources for a complete guidebook. You may contact the DNR at (651) 296-6157, toll free at 1-888-646-6367, or on the Web at