Thinning out the deer population in urban and suburban areas brings bowhunters and parks and rec folks together.
Thinning out the deer population in urban and suburban areas brings bowhunters and parks and rec folks together.

What can an urban-dwelling outdoorsman do for deer hunting opportunities, especially when he or she is short on travel time or financial resources for a guided hunt on private land? Look for a city- or county-based program to hunt on park land. If there isn’t one where you live—and you bowhunt—consider creating one.

Often inner-city and suburban parks’ resident deer populations are too high. One program, in partnership with local bowhunters in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is Minnesota Bowhunters Resource Base (MBRB). Other urban areas in the country, like Pittsburgh’s International Airport, work with bowhunter groups to manage their herd populations, too. With a little search you might find a program in the metro area that you live in, but if not, the opportunity to create one would be a tremendous personal accomplishment and provide decades of benefit to the entire community.

Minneapolis/St. Paul is the sixteenth-largest metro area in the United States and Pittsburgh the twenty-second-largest. An overabundance of deer in these large, urban areas creates a danger for the entire community; hunter and non-hunter alike. Motorists and air travelers risk accidents when the herds move out on roads and runways. Cities and counties often expend valuable resources to solve the problem. A partnership with bowhunters is an efficient, low-cost solution and creates a unique hunting opportunity.

“We love the help we get with this from the hunters,” shared Michael Goodnature, natural resources manager with Ramsey County Parks and Recreation. “It is an efficient and cost-effective way to thin the herd. The group is well-organized and does all the legwork to coordinate safe, proficient, and reliable hunters.”

“This isn’t about trophy hunting, mostly we’re just going to take does,” shared Doug McDougal of Deephaven, Minnesota. McDougal drew a couple of hunt dates at Gale Wood Farm, part of the Three Rivers Park District in Minnetrista, Minnesota. The usual licenses and tags are required in addition to the permission from the park. “This is much better than wasting tax dollars to sharpshoot or trap deer when local hunters are willing and capable to do the job for free.”

Doug McDougal with Outfitters Rating signed on to bowhunt in the metro area parks with MBRB this year. Mandatory testing for proficiency and safety are required.
Doug McDougal with Outfitters Rating signed on to bowhunt in the metro area parks with MBRB this year. Mandatory testing for proficiency and safety are required.

This is McDougal’s first year in the program. To be eligible to draw a hunt on the park’s land, he took a mandatory class and demonstrated skilled groupings with his bow. The parks are not closed when hunters are in their stands. “Just like any hunting situation, priority number one is safety. In this case, priority number two is good public and park relations,” said McDougal. “We only hunt in designated areas and times assigned by the park managers. Everything is all documented, and all shots taken and results are documented as well.”

Feeding homeless and hungry folks is also a common outreach within cities. Bowhunters can help by donating meat for the cause.

“We can only take inspection-processed venison, but we do get it when a hunter is willing to pay for the processing and then donate the meat,” said Mark Schindeldecker of Sharing and Caring Hands, a ministry of hospitality for the hungry and homeless in Minneapolis. “I once had a guy show up with five deer in the back of his pickup truck and I said, ‘I can’t take them like that!’ and he said ‘oh’ and drove away.”

What a great partnership. Look for a program in your metro area and if there isn’t one, consider modeling it after MBRB. “It’s a smooth process working with MBRB,” shared Goodnature, who admits to the ribbing he gets with a name like his. “The parks folks and the hunters meet one another at the orientation meetings. We’ve been working with them in Ramsey County since 2000 and they do all the legwork.”

That’s the key. Make it turnkey for the parks programs and you will find urban and suburban opportunities to deer hunt.

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.

Featured image copyright iStockPhoto/Mattboy_Slim, second image courtesy Doug McDougal

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