It seems a goofy time of year to address the issue of shining—or spotlighting—deer, but it is a topic very much in the news in my neighborhood. That’s because Minnesota lawmakers are contemplating legislation that would tighten restrictions on the practice. Currently, folks can shine deer here until 10 p.m. during the hunting season, and all night long the rest of the year. And it’s legal for a shiner to have a cased bow or gun, as long as it’s in the rear-most portion of the vehicle.
Proposed legislation would restrict shining to a one-hour period after sunset, year-round, and no weapons would be allowed in vehicles.
I am four-square in favor of the restrictions and would even support an outright ban on shining during the fall. However, I confess I am more than a little prejudiced on this one. Two years ago, the only mature buck living in my rural neighborhood disappeared after leading a highly-visible lifestyle. I found him one morning, lying 100 yards from my mailbox…with his head cut off. Shining activity had been heavy in the area for weeks. Once that buck bit the dust, the spotlights disappeared. It didn’t take much for me (and the many people who knew this deer) to connect the dots.