Craig and Patty Rilling moved to a secluded, wooded area for privacy and to get away from noise.
They got away from city noise, but now hear the sounds of gunshots during deer hunting season.
"It sounds like it is right in our yard," said Patty. "I hate it. My husband is not a hunter so he doesn't like it either. It is just so close here and you hear stories of people walking to their mailbox and getting shot. ... It's scary."
The Rillings live in a new residential development in Crow Wing Township that borders state land and Potlatch-owned land. When they look out their window into the back yard they can see hunters in blaze orange attire sitting in their deer stands.
The Minnesota trespassing law states no one may discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a structure occupied by humans or animals.
Jim Tischler, Brainerd DNR conservation officer, said the trespassing law is confusing. He said a person hunting on public land can legally shoot a deer that is closer than 500 feet to a residential home. However, if that same person shot the deer while it was standing on private land -- and the land was posted private -- it would be illegal.
"What it comes down to is what is ethical," said Tischler. "We teach kids that just because it is legal does not mean it is right."
Tischler suggests hunters scout the area they plan to hunt, and if there are a lot of residents living around the site then the ethical thing would be to hunt somewhere else.
The increasing population in the Brainerd lakes area has not driven the deer population away, so hunters have several places to go.
Gary Drotts, area DNR wildlife supervisor, said 23,600 deer permits were issued this hunting season -- a record high for Crow Wing and Wadena counties and parts of Cass County. Drotts said the deer population has expanded because of good habitat. Residential homes commonly have lawns, gardens and shrubbery that actually improve the deer population, Drotts said.
In Crow Wing Township, five residential developments on about 240 acres were created in the last two years. Scott Pakarinen, chairman of the Crow Wing Township Board, has seen people hunt deer in their usual spots, not realizing there are new houses beyond the trees.
At this time, Pakarinen does not see any problems with people hunting too close to residential homes because there are not enough developments in the township.
Mark Haglin, chairman of the Oak Lawn Township Board, said this township lost about 1,300 acres of land to residential developments. The land lost was private land so only the hunters who had permission to hunt there lost their deer hunting spots, said Haglin.
"These hunters will have to move on," said Haglin. "Rural development is ongoing and deer hunters need to be aware of it."
Last year there was one accidental deer hunting fatality in Cass County, where a person shot another from his deer hunting party.
Overall hunting is pretty safe in Minnesota, said Jeff Thielen, state DNR training educator. Thielen said in the past 20 years the number of fatalities has dropped.
The Rillings plan to take precautions this season, but hope there won't be any hunters shooting near their home since there are more people living in the development.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.