Sibley State Park muzzleloaders keep their powder dry

John T. Hutchinson of Benson fires a traditional ‘smoke stick’ in this Tribune file photo.

Hunters kept their powder dry, more than they would have liked during the special muzzleloader hunt offered last weekend in Sibley State Park.

The muzzleloaders harvested nine deer, one of the lowest tallies in the hunt’s history at the park.

Park Manager Jack Nelson said hunters registered seven adult does and two doe fawns during the hunt last Saturday and Sunday.

There were 50 permits issued for the special hunt. The park registered 45 participants on Saturday, and 32 on Sunday.

Many of the hunt’s participants use traditional flintlocks.

Nelson said it’s hard to know why the harvest was down. All of the hunters told him they saw deer, but most said they never got the opportunity to shoot.

Hunts in the last few years have seen harvest totals in the upper teens and lower 20’s with about the same number of hunters.

The annual hunt is offered to help the park manage its deer herd to protect native vegetation in the park from over-browsing.

The special, muzzleloader hunt has been a tradition at Sibley State Park since 1992. It originally was offered in December, but moved to the earlier, November muzzleloader statewide season to avoid conflicts with skiing and other snow-based recreation in the park.

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