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Online Deer Registration Alters Hunting Culture

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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ST. FRANCIS, Minn. (WCCO) – More and more hunters are going with convenience when registering their deer.

Two years ago, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources started allowing people to register their deer by phone or online.

In the past, hunters had to physically bring their deer into a registration center. It’s already leading to a major change in hunting tradition.

There are some things that never change during the deer hunt. For hunter Bob Wallace, it’s making a meal of the recent kill.

“This is part of our tradition,” Wallace said.

But even long standing traditions sometimes need adjustment. Saturday’s rain forced a change in his cooking plans.

“Normally we do it out in the woods, but due to the rain today, we thought we’d get out of the rain a little bit and stay in some shelter,” he said.

This year brought another first for Wallace’s group: his family registered their deer online. They’re part of a growing trend moving away from in-person registration.

In 2010, 50 percent of hunters started registering their deer by internet or phone. In 2011, that number grew to 55 percent, and this year it’s already at 65 percent.

It’s a shift in hunting culture that Cody Clem, owner of St. Francis Bait and Tackle, can’t help but notice.

“As far as seeing…the masses of deer we used to see, it’s just not like that anymore,” Clem said.

For Clem, a drop in registrations also means fewer customers through the doors. He estimates post-opener sales have dipped 10 percent since the phone and internet tagging began.

“A little bit frustrating, yeah. And we’ve just adapted to it,” he said.

But the biggest loss can’t be measured in money. Groups that once gathered to watch the trophy bucks roll in no longer get much of a show.

“We definitely miss seeing all the deer and having the masses of people bring them up, and it is fun to see the deer,” Clem said.

Hunters were the ones who pushed for internet and phone registration. There are still some areas around the state where hunters still need to bring their deer in to have it tagged.

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