It was in the early 1970s that mandatory deer registration was implemented for successful deer hunters. Hunters were required to bring the deer to a registration station, provide information on the deer and when and where it was killed. They were then issued a tag to show that they had registered the deer and this information has been vital over the years to help manage the deer herd and the deer season.
Prior to that, there was a postcard attached to the license that successful hunters were supposed to send in after the season to provide harvest information to the department. Somehow this information was used to calculate the harvest but some individuals questioned the results. That led to mandatory registration as a more accurate account.
It probably was in 1968 that we plotted harvest data from the cards by township so that we could see where the new deer habitat program should be implemented. I was in the St. Paul office at the time and was involved with this effort. The card provided the county of kill as well as the distance and direction from the nearest town, such as Aitkin County and four miles north of Palisade. But we kept running into cards from Aitkin County and a distance and direction from Dad’s Corner. So where was Dad’s Corner? No one knew and no such place was on any map that we consulted.
Then one day, Henry Wulf, area manager for Crow Wing and Aitkin County at the time, was down to St. Paul for a meeting so we asked him, “Where the heck is Dad’s Corner?” Needless to say, he knew, at the corner of Hwy. 65 and County Rd. 2. Finally, we were able to plot those harvest records.
When I set up registration stations, it was a no-brainer that Dad’s Corner would be a station and they did a fine job over the years. When in that area, I would often stop for a pop or sometimes lunch. When it no longer existed, some hunters may not have registered their kill rather than go to another station. Not a problem today when one can register via phone or online.
Then the recent articles on the Experimental City bring back memories. The proposed location certainly didn’t make any sense to me as it would have affected several Wildlife Management Areas, such as Moose Willow, and several wild rice lakes, such as Shovel, White Elk and Moose. Not to mention all the wetlands in the area, as well as the extensive ditch system. I’m not sure how they planned to address all the wetland issues that would have been involved.
I do not recall as a state employee if we were able to comment on the proposal publicly or if we were to shut up. The article also mentioned that another site has been proposed in Dakota County but they probably figured that the people in Aitkin County would welcome the project. Boy, were they wrong. There were also rumors that the site they really wanted was Camp Ripley but they knew that there was no way they could get that site.
Dave Dickey is a retired DNR Area Wildlife manager. Anyone with a question, comment or story idea should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.