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Learn the rules for portable stands on wildlife management areas

Hunters planning to use portable stands on wildlife management areas this season are reminded to check regulations to learn when they need to remove stands after hunting.

“In most of the state, leaving stands overnight on WMAs is not allowed and they must be removed at the end of the day,” said Bob Welsh, Department of Natural Resources wildlife operations manager. “Users of most WMAs will not see a change in stand regulations this year, but there is a change in an area of northwestern Minnesota.”

In a specific portion of northwestern Minnesota, new legislation allows portable stands to be left out on WMAs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

Minnesota has 1.3 million acres of land in WMAs, and an estimated 500,000 hunters are expected to hit the woods and fields during firearms deer season in hopes of harvesting a deer.

New in northwestern Minnesota
The new regulation allows WMA users to leave up to two portable stands overnight in any WMA in the northwestern corner of the state roughly north of Thief River Falls and west of Warroad. The area also is described as north of Highway 1 where it exits the Red Lake Indian Reservation to the western edge of the state, and west of a line from Highway 89 where it exits the Red Lake Indian Reservation to Fourtown, then north on the west side of Dick’s Parkway Forest Road, then north to Highway 5 to the northern edge of the state.

The DNR defines a portable stand as a stationary platform or blind designed and capable of being readily moved by hand by a single person in a single trip without the aid of a motorized vehicle, is secured in position and does no permanent damage to the natural environment.

Hunters leaving a stand overnight must label the stand with the hunter’s name and address; the hunter’s driver’s license number; or simply with the hunter’s MDNR number. The label must be readable from the ground.

WMAs elsewhere in Minnesota
In WMAs in the remainder of the state, stands cannot be left overnight.

“Every year we have people leaving stands overnight on WMAs, so it’s a common violation,” said Greg Salo, assistant director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “We have this regulation in place to prevent some users from preempting others from the opportunity to use WMAs on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Portable stands may be used on WMAs if they are removed each day at the close of shooting hours and do no permanent damage. Spikes or nails driven into trees are not allowed, but screwing or clamping devices are allowed if removed each day at the close of shooting hours.

“In addition to WMAs, there are a variety of other public land types and hunters should be aware that regulations governing the use of portable stands can differ depending on the type of public land they’re hunting,” Salo said.

Hunters should always wear a safety harness if using an elevated stand, added Salo.

“In addition to wearing a safety harness, check climbing sticks, steps or ladders for damage and always wait to load a firearm until safely in the stand,” Salo said.

Hunters need to be familiar with hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting. Hunting questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.