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Hunters Give Thumbs-Up to Amendment Two
By Tom Robertson
November 13, 1998
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The firearms deer-hunting season in Northern Minnesota is getting mixed reviews by hunters and observers. Anecdotal information points to a smaller harvest in areas where the deer population was hit hard by the devastating winters of 1996 and 1997. There are some game-registration stations reporting a better than expected hunt. But regardless of their success, many hunters are elated over the overwhelming support Minnesota voters gave the constitutional amendment protecting hunting and fishing rights. In fact, it's hard to find any opposition to the measure among hunters.

GEORGE MEYER OF MANKATO is one of about a dozen hunters taking a break from the deer stand to grab a hot breakfast at the Highway Host truck stop in Bemidji. For Meyer, deer hunting has been an annual ritual for 27 years, and it doesn't matter to him that he's not seen a buck since the season began a week ago.

Meyer: Even if you don't get any, it's a success. Just coming up to hunt.
Meyer was among the thousands of Minnesotans, about 77 percent of voters, who said yes to the amendment designed to "forever preserve" hunting and fishing rights in the state. Meyer said he never felt any real danger that his rights were threatened, but he voted yes anyway.
Meyer: I think it told the animal-rights people something: That they should stay out of it. It's a privilege that we had, and now you have to make it a law to have it. It may have taught them a lesson.
At this game-registration station, Kobilka's Sporting Goods in Bemidji, two brothers, who both voted for Amendment Two, proudly show store employee Joe Clayton a small, six-point buck in the back of their pickup.
Hunter: In fact, we almost run into an eight-point buck just coming here. It was right alongside the road. Well, they're out this morning, then.
Clayton, who also hunts and traps, has registered about 130 deer so far this season. She says prior to the election, the store put up pro-hunting-amendment flyers and lobbied customers to support the measure.
Clayton: I'm really glad that it passed. I was all for it, and I really feel that it was necessary. We do need to get our young people involved, and to get people to be able to maintain the right to hunt and fish. And I'm including all of that. And in this state, I was hoping that we'd prove it. And we did!
Not all hunters felt the hunting and fishing amendment was necessary. Bob Smith is a deer hunter and avid sportsman. He did vote yes on the amendment question, but only because it was there.
Smith: Well, I don't think it should have been on the ballot in the first place, because I think it's a given right, and you don't have to vote on it at all. But since it was there, you might as well vote positive for it as a sportsperson.
One person in Minnesota who was astounded by the margin of support was DFL State Senator Bob Lessard of International Falls, who was the amendment's chief author. Lessard says he's heard lots of comments from people who voted for the measure, but didn't think it was necessary. His answer is that the amendment is for future generations.
Lessard: You've got to remember what this amendment was designed to do. It wasn't for today, or tomorrow, or 10 years from now, or 15 years from now. It's for the year 2040, or 50, or whatever the case may be. And we all sit back with complacency. That was exactly why we passed the amendment, was to prevent something that's gonna happen in the future.
Lessard says hunters and anglers are not the only ones who benefited from the amendment's victory. He says the amendment's presence on the ballot may have been the key to victory for governor-elect Jesse Ventura.
Lesser: And I'm willing to bet these voters who are new to the process, you know, their issues are, whether they were going to vote for this amendment, here was Jesse coming out, this type of guy, and I've got to believe that he benefited immensely, and that's putting it mildly, from the passage of this constitutional amendment.
While hunters are basking in their victory, opponents of the hunting and fishing amendment are weighing their options. There is already talk of challenging the amendment in court.