Proposed game preserve for harvesting trophy-sized Odocoileus virgineanus stirs up opposition

Buck Creek Deer Camp On the agenda for the April 13 Rice County Board of Commissioners meeting is a CUP Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a “Private Hunting Club/Dale Petelinsek for Les Ferris.”

Petelinsek, owner of Buck Creek Deer Camp, has proposed a hunting preserve/club/farm in Forest Township, about 2 miles north of Circle Lake and a mile west of Union Lake. From their website:

Buck Creek Deer Camp (BCDC) is dedicated to breeding world-class, typical, trophy whitetails for delivery to breeders and game preserves throughout America. Founded in 2007, our genetics come from the best lines; Flees, Waldvogel, Thiex, and Borntrager. We are located in the big woods of Rice County, Minnesota. Our goal is to winter 100 animals and sell 12 Boone and Crocket 200+ class bucks to the market each year. New in 2010 will be a game preserve to harvest trophy animals for a once in a lifetime hunting opportunity.

Personally, I’d rather see hunters going after white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgineanus, AKA ‘forest rats’) in the wild to make the world safer for motorcyclists like me. But as an occasional carnivore, I don’t have any objection to the existence of hunting camps. (I see them somewhat similar to dating services, a handy way to increase your odds. My wife objects to that analogy.) Whether this is the place for one is the main question.

Attorneys David Hvistendahl and Kim Decker, of Hvistendahl, Moersch & Dorsey, representing the neighbors opposed to the preserve, discussed the proposal on their Law Review radio show on KYMN this week, Proposed "Hunting Farm" in Rice County.

I got this email from Larry White, detailing the opposition:


Hi Griff,

Margaret Huber suggested I contact you about the proposed deer camp.  We have a unified neighborhood group of landowners and residents who oppose this proposal due to safety concerns from errant shotgun slugs for over 100 days a year compared to the current DNR deer season of 9 days.

By the way, due to a major gap in public safety laws the DNR rules no longer apply to this proposed operation because the State has granted full authority over deer and elk shooting camps to the Board of Animal Health WHO HAS NO SHOOTING RULES WHATSOEVER!  They consider these animals as livestock and the camp operator can do whatever they want inside the fence.  Shooters do not even need a DNR hunting license, gun safety training, can have suspended hunting privileges for previous violations, etc.

There is also a major concern by the neighbors that State Statute 87A relating to Shooting Ranges will apply to this operation by a reference in the Statute.  If this Statute is applicable it includes a rule preventing any new buildings from being constructed within 750 feet of the deer camp property line.  This also means that if my house or my closest neighbor’s house (Huber’s) was severely damaged by fire we could not even secure a building permit to reconstruct them.

The deer camp site is approximately 140 acres but when you draw a rectangle around it 750 feet "outside" the deer camp property perimeter it amounts to roughly a 250 acre area on which nothing can be constructed.  Using the asking price of the deer camp property owned by Les Ferris at $15,000 an acre the value of this land which has in effect been seized or taken from all of us amounts to approximately $3,750,000!

The irony here is that the applicant, Petelinsek, is merely a tenant.  He will not even own the property but yet the County may allow him to encumber and render valueless 250 acres and he doesn’t own one foot of any of it!

The Planning Commission recommended this for approval on April 1 and it goes to the County Board on April 13 for final approval.  We are asking for concerned citizens to contact the Board prior to April 13 to express their concerns and outrage.

In the same April 1 Planning Commission meeting the County recommended approval of an archery range with a 5,000 foot safety zone for arrows behind the targets.  The deer camp was recommended for approval with only a 500 foot protection from shotgun slugs traveling faster than the speed of sound!

Feel free to contact me if you have questions on this matter. 

Larry White

10 comments to  (Including 2 Discussion Threads) Proposed game preserve for harvesting trophy-sized Odocoileus virgineanus stirs up opposition

  • 1
    Stephanie Henriksen says:

    I have been following two projects proposed for Forest Township, our neighbor to the west (I am in Bridgewater). There is considerable opposition to the hunting club and also the motocross raceway.

    I did not attend the Rice Cty Planning Commission hearings on these April 1, but I did get to the Forest Township meeting Wednesday night, April 7. It was a full house there, first to hear a motocross presentation and then to bring concerns about both projects to the township board.

    Supervisors were hesitant to declare a moratorium on these uses to give time for further study. But they did agree to submit a letter to the County Board, asking for 30-day delay in any action on the hunting club. And another letter calling for the same on the motocross raceway.

    We’lll see if the county board responds to these requests and pulls the items off the agenda on Tuesday, April 13. People don’t want to be rushed into something, without due consideration. And they are very dissatisfied with the Planning Commission recommendations.

    There will be another chance to hear details of the motocross project at the Township Hall on April 21.

  • 2
    Griff Wigley says:

    Today’s Nfld News: Neighbors oppose new hunting club

    Despite hearing from more than a dozen area residents opposed to the proposal, the Rice County Planning Commission unanimously recommended on April 1 that the Rice County Board of Commissioners approve a Conditional Use Permit for Buck Creek Deer Camp, which would be operated by Faribault resident Dale Petelinsek.

  • 3
    Jane Moline says:

    This is a real tragedy that Rice County has the ability to force these inappropriate developments down residents’ throats--we should all be petitioning the Rice County Board of Commissioners to request greater responsibility on the part of the county planning commission. I think we need to know who the planning commission is and how they come to their conclusion--if zoning allows such a use, the planning commission should be suggesting that the zoning is wrong and needs to be changed.

    If what Larry says above is true, Rice County--and by default all of the taxpayers--would be liable for a “taking” of the land surrounding the deer camp whereby we would have to pay all the affected property owners. This is an extremely expensive liability. Please contact your county commissioner to let them know how you feel.

    We also need to petition our state legislature to tighten the laws regarding these facilities so that Rice County would not have the ability to blight peoples property. Contact Kevin Dahle and David Bly to let them know how you feel.

    Thanks, Stephanie for keeping us informed. Good job, Bridgewater for instituting your own planning and zoning--Forest Township--looks like it is your turn.

  • 4
    William Siemers says:

    A question regarding the Board of Animal Health’s jurisdiction over the ‘shooting camp’ rather than the DNR, and the assertion that the camp operator can therefore ‘do whatever they want’ inside of the fence: Can that be true? Would the BAH allow cattle, pigs and sheep to be ‘harvested’ with shotguns and rifles from hundreds of feet away at the risk of wounding rather than killing the animals? That seems neither humane nor sanitary. If this camp is essentially a commercial slaughterhouse, shouldn’t slaughterhouse rules apply?

  • 5
    Megan Tsui says:

    I used to live in an old farmhouse right on this site. I can’t imagine how little this “preserve” is going to be. Most of the area is pond- it’s not even land you can walk on!

    It’s the most stunning piece of property in all of Rice County. I was so lucky to live there for five years and enjoy the all the wildlife that lived there- turkey, fox, heron, ducks, geese, etc. This is a gross misuse of land, if you ask me. I can’t imagine the fear of the neighbors. We could hear each other talkin-they were that close!

    I no longer live in Rice County so I can’t protest. But you can!

    Take a drive along county road #59 and drive up the “Dead End” road. See for yourself.

  • 6
    Stephanie Henriksen says:

    Bill, you can call Dept. of Ag 651-201-6550 and ask for Bd of Animal Health office or call direct 651-296-2942. The person I got knew about the controversy. He said one of their specialists, Karl Denkinger, was called down to a meeting (likely the public hearing on April 1).

    The person (I will not name) said there is no permit as such. The proposer registers, pays a yearly fee, maintains tests for chronic wasting disease and is inspected once a year. They keep an inventory of the deer, that is all. No mention of slaughter.

    He said he had seen the plans. He went on to say he had a young daughter and he would not live next to one of these operations.

    • 6.1
      Larry White says:

      Thanks to an 11th hour purchase of the subject parcel of land by a neighbor the proposed deer camp CUP was pulled from the County agenda today. Thanks to all who contributed in preventing this misplaced activity.

      A number of neighbors will be contacting Rice County Planning and Zoning to recommend amending the current Ordinances either to ban this commercial harvest of large game animals (even if the Board of Animal Health calls them livestock) or make major modifications to the Ordinance requiring hunting club operators to at least have a major financial stake in ownership of the subject property and set a reasonable minimum parcel size to prevent what was dangerously close to happening in our neighborhood.

      Further, ambiguous language contained in Minnesota Statute 87A needs to be clarified by legislative action to prevent any unjust takings of a 750′ perimeter adjacent to shooting ranges and other similar uses. Please assist in this effort by contacting Rep. David Bly and Sen. Kevin Dahle.

      This experience has taught us to know your neighbors, keep in touch with them and keep a watchful eye on Township and County agendas to spot potential problems before the obscure notice arrives in the mail about 10 days before the first Public Hearing.

    • 6.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      Larry, thanks so much for the update on this issue.

  • 7
    Megan Tsui says:

    Dodged a bullet- literally.

    Good for the neighbor. If it’s who I think it is- that land and all it’s critters (including people) are so much better off.

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