Hunters likely to see more deer, get fewer shotsPublished 11:29am Monday, October 29, 2012
Bucks are on the move, offering hunters a good opening weekend for Minnesota’s firearms deer opener this Saturday.
“We’ve seen a lot of activity with bucks chasing does,” said Richard Olsen, assistant wildlife manager for for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office in Glenwood.
Hunters know their chances of shooting a buck improve when deer are at the peak of the rut, or mating season. Bucks are less cautious as they chase does in hopes of perpetuating the species.
However, area hunters won’t have as many antlerless deer tags in their pocket this fall. “Area 272 and 273 west of Elbow Lake is a lottery this year,” Olsen said. Hunters had to apply and be selected to receive an antlerless permit.
“We try and balance management with the anticipated demand so that everyone can get a permit and get one deer,” Olsen said. “1300 permits were available, and historically about 1200 permits had been issued each year for the past couple of years.”
Last year’s mild winter was good to the deer, but the strong winter the year before impacted the population. Hunting areas in Otter Tail County have moved from more liberal “managed” or “intensive” status to more restrictive “hunter’s choice.”
“That’s by design; to reduce the anterless kill,” Olsen said. “These areas, 239, 240, 213 and 241 will likely return to managed next year.”
DNR wildlife officials received many complaints from hunters who saw and shot fewer deer last fall. After meeting with stakeholder groups, the DNR has agreed to nudge population goals upward a bit, and that means fewer antlerless deer tags, conserving the number of does in the population so they can breed and contribute more offspring to the population.
“We’re going to see more deer and kill less deer,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association based in Grand Rapids. “The DNR is starting to manage for more deer in most parts of the state.”
Minnesota’s deer season will run from Saturday through Nov. 18.