Hunters harvest 17 anterless deer during special muzzleloader hunt in Sibley State Park

Sibley State Park has offered a special muzzleloader hunt since 1992. It still attracts some traditionalists with flintlock rifles, but the majority are carrying modern, in-line muzzleloaders.

NEW LONDON — Hunters harvested 17 anterless deer during the special muzzleloader hunt offered in Sibley State Park last weekend.

This year’s hunt saw 46 hunters on Saturday and 41 return on Sunday. There were 50 permits available.
Park Manager Jack Nelson called the harvest a respectable number given the deer population in the area.

The hunt began in 1992 as a four-day hunt, and was originally held in December. The first year saw a harvest of 88 deer, but numbers in recent years have been in the lower 20’s.

The hunt is now a two-day event, and held on the first weekend of the muzzleloader deer season in the state. The hunt was moved to an earlier date so as not to conflict with snow-based activities such as skiing and snowmobiling, noted Nelson.

John T. Hutchinson of rural Benson demonstrates a traditional flintlock rifle in this Tribune file photo.

In 2001, a December hunt at the park was cut short by a record, 30-inch snowfall.

The hunt is offered to help the park manage the deer population and protect again over-browsing, according to the park manager.

It is also offered with safety in mind. Keeping the deer herd in check reduces the risk of car-deer collisions in the area.

Nelson said the hunters reported a positive experience. While the success rate wasn’t as high as some year, all of the hunters Nelson spoke to told him they saw deer moving and had opportunities.

– Tom Cherveny