Minnesota Shotgun Zones
Travis Smola

Minnesota Mulling Over Eliminating Shotgun Zones for Deer Hunting

Minnesota's traditional shotgun areas could soon become a thing of the past.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is much like other states in the Midwest when it comes to firearms deer hunting. Certain areas, mainly the southern and western parts of the state, only allow deer hunters to use shotguns and handguns for whitetails.

That may be changing according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. They report that a bill proposing eliminating the state's shotgun zones was recently discussed among House representatives. The belief is that it could be added to omnibus bill in the future. This isn't the first time the issue of eliminating the zones has come up for Minnesota hunters.

Hunters Association's executive director Craig Engwall told the paper the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is not totally opposed to the idea. However, it is worth noting that the association's chapters seem divided on the issue. While the association did approve a resolution advocating for eliminating shotgun zones, it was approved by a split vote. The big concern among the split members was public safety according to the publication. The DNR does not appear to share the opinion that safety would be an issue.

However, it seems that the state's old implementation of shotgun zones wasn't for safety. Instead it was designed to make hunting harder and protect more deer when Minnesota deer numbers were much lower. In the many hunting seasons since then, the populations have rebounded. Bill sponsor Rep. Chris Swedzinski also told reporters that firearms technology has evolved. Now, shotguns and muzzleloaders can reach out to the same distances as rifles.

"Current technology is moving in that general direction," Swedzinski told reporters.

Lawmakers in support of the bill pointed to the fact other parts of the United States like neighboring Wisconsin have eliminated similar rules in recent years. Many Midwestern states like Ohio, Michigan and Indiana have had similar zones for years, but for safety reasons. These shotgun zones were more common in more populated areas of the state like southern Michigan. Not all, but some same states have changed definitions on legal firearms to allow straight-wall cartridges in pistol calibers to be used.

We will update you on if this proposed bill goes thorough and becomes law here at Wide Open Spaces.

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