By David Peterson
When most students think of fall at St. John’s, they imagine Clemens Stadium with the leaves changing from a monotonous sea of green to a vibrant collage of oranges and reds. However, for a small group on campus the changing of the leaves and the cold air can mean only one thing: the start of another deer hunting season.
While some students may have opportunities to hunt a private property throughout the state, there is an option located right here at St. John’s.
The St. John’s Abbey Arboretum Deer Hunt is often an overlooked opportunity for students, especially those without transportation, to follow their outdoor passions. For those who are unaware, Outdoor University operates a deer hunt that opens the 2,700 acre Arboretum to allow CSB/SJU students and members of the community to participate in a deer hunt that limits the hunters to archery equipment. This year’s hunt is the 16th time that there has been a deer hunt in the St. John’s Abbey Arboretum to reduce the number of deer that have damaged the woods by over grazing on undergrowth.
Hunters are selected through a point-based lottery system where they are more likely to be selected for the hunt if they are CSB/SJU student, completed bow hunter safety, shot a deer last year or if they did not get selected for the hunt last year. The hunt uses an earn a buck system where hunters are required to tag three female deer before they are allowed to tag a buck to properly manage the deer population. This type of deer management system is used in several states and has been proven to reduce the number of animals in a population.
In addition to protecting the undergrowth, managing the number of deer in the Abbey Arboretum is also vital to the safety of our campus to decrease the risk of cars and buses striking deer on their way to and from campus.
As a student who has participated in the hunt the last three years, I can personally attest to the value of having an opportunity to hunt so close to campus. The ability to finish a class in the Quad at 2 p.m. and to be in my treestand an hour later is something that makes CSB/SJU a more hunter-friendly campus compared to urban schools like St. Thomas or the University of Minnesota.
Personally, the hunt has lead to an increase in my appreciation of the Arboretum, having spent countless hours scouting the woods for deer tracks and sitting in tree stands. Had it not been for the deer hunt, I would not have spent as much time enjoying the natural beauty that is present in the Arboretum.