Hunting

What can Minnesota gun hunters expect this hunting season? – Echo Log of Pines and Lakes

More than 400,000 deer hunters are gearing up for gun deer season which opens on Saturday November 5th. The season brings the opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends and family, find adventure and put the venison in the freezer.

Deer hunting is the primary tool used to manage deer populations, and hunters help keep deer numbers in line with statewide population goals. Managing deer populations contributes to the overall health of Minnesota’s landscapes, natural systems, and economy.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife managers report good deer harvesting opportunities in most areas. Hunters should be aware of deer license area boundaries and any chronic wasting disease regulations that apply where they are hunting.

Detailed information on each permit area and CWD area can be found on MNR’s Interactive Deer Map (mndnr.gov/Hunting/Deer/Map.html). Additional information on CWD zones, carcass movement restrictions, and voluntary sampling can be found on the DNR’s CWD webpage (mndnr.gov/CWD) and hunters are encouraged to use the online planning tool from the DNR (mndnr.gov/DeerHunt) to find hunting and chronic wasting disease information to consider before you go.

MN DNR South Region

Weather conditions for deer and other farmland wildlife were again favorable in 2021-22 in most parts of the state. Most of the winter conditions were average for both temperature and snow depth. Spring was wetter and cooler than average, but hot and dry conditions returned in late summer and early fall. Overall, the weather conditions had no impact on the deer herd and fawn production was very good.

The habitat is in good condition. The rivers’ floodplains, which provide some of the best habitat for deer and deer hunting in the southern region, have had nearly three years to recover from persistent flooding. These floodplain habitats again provide excellent deer cover, which bodes well for deer hunters.

Upland grassland areas and wetland pools are also in good condition, and hunters may encounter lower water levels or completely dry wetland pools due to worsening drought. Large blocks of grass with built-in wetlands are the primary deer habitat in the southern region.

Overall, deer populations are strong throughout the south. All deer permit areas went through a population target setting last year, resulting in the availability of additional lottery permits for most deer permit areas or an increase in deer bag limits. The move toward more liberal harvesting strategies reflects a growing deer herd in the southern region. Additionally, hunters are encouraged to establish a plan (mndnr.gov/DeerHunt) and must follow all CWD sampling requirements and carcass movement restrictions in their DPA.

As always, the greatest uncertainty in determining the overall deer harvest is the amount of standing crop left in the field during gun deer season. Crop harvest is in full swing and most of the corn should be in the trash well before gun deer season. Harvesting crops generally improves hunter success.

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MN DNR Central Region

Following last summer’s dry conditions, hunters will find small bodies of water or low or dry wetlands, which will improve hunter access. Acorn production was generally good throughout the region. Due to the dry conditions, hunters should take precautions with campfires, especially when there is no snow on the ground.

Deer populations are robust in central Minnesota and exceed target levels in nearly all central Minnesota deer permit areas. Many permit areas allow a hunter to harvest up to three deer, and hunters can harvest up to five deer in PADs that are part of the chronic wasting disease management area. Hunters are encouraged to establish a plan (mndnr.gov/DeerHunt) and must follow all CWD sampling requirements and carcass movement restrictions in their DPA.

The forecast for archery and deer hunting with firearms this fall is very good. Central Minnesota wildlife managers are urging deer hunters to take advantage of additional licenses to harvest antlerless deer to help manage deer populations.

Crop harvesting appears to be continuing on track and it is estimated that most crops will be harvested by the start of the gun deer season.

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MN DNR North-East Region

Winter 2021-22 weather was moderate to severe (mndnr.gov/Mammals/Deer/Management/WSI.html) with deep snow over most deer permit areas in the northeast region. During harsh winters, thermal cover and forage availability become more important. In deep snow, deer find it more difficult to move and become more susceptible to predation.

Many northern permit areas are still struggling to recover deer numbers. As a result, many areas will again have weaker antlerless license bids or will be just bucks. This will give local deer populations the opportunity to grow in areas where their numbers are below established and publicly approved population goals. MNR will review deer population objectives (mndnr.gov/Mammals/Deer/Management/Population.html) for PADs in the Eastern Central Highlands block of objectives this winter covering the southern portion of the northeast.

The best harvesting opportunities will be in the southern part of the northeast region, where deer numbers are higher and not affected by winter conditions to the same extent as permit areas further north. The highest numbers of deer are expected in areas of mixed habitat of open fields and forests. Current dry conditions will provide good access for hunters. Chronic wasting disease management areas in the region will provide additional harvesting opportunities. Hunters are encouraged to develop a plan (mndnr.gov/DeerHunt) and should follow CWD sampling requirements and carcass movement restrictions in their DPA.

In the northeast region, three interrelated factors have the greatest impact on the deer population: the quality of the forest habitat, the severity of the winter and predation. Forest cover, food availability and predator numbers, as well as hunting pressure, vary across the landscape and can make a big difference to local deer populations. Differences in seasonal weather patterns and deer survival, especially during winter, greatly affect local deer numbers. Scouting local pockets of deer will improve hunter success.

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MN DNR North West Region

Last winter was severe in some parts of the region, notably in the Bemidji region and further north, according to the Winter Severity Index. Although some deer mortality has been observed and reported, the deer population throughout the northwest region appears to be in good shape. Parts of the region, particularly the far northwest, received excessive rainfall last spring, while further south rainfall amounts were below average. Summer conditions have improved significantly since last summer’s drought. Fodder availability, including a good harvest of acorns in most parts of the region, has been reliable. Barring significant rainfall, access to public land should be better than average, with low water in ditches and wetlands.

Deer populations are mostly stable in the region. There are plenty of deer in the landscape and hunters who do their homework and spend time in the woods and fields should have plenty of opportunities to harvest deer. Many PADs in the area have limits of two or three deer, and hunters are reminded to check the regulations of the PADs they hunt. Some DPAs have lower and more restrictive deer limits due to concerns about the effect of last winter on some local deer populations where winter severity index values ​​were high. Lower limits for deer will allow local herds to recover and possibly expand – some examples include DPAs 114, 184, 203, 251, 258, 269, 270, 271, 272, 287, 297 and 298, which make part of the DPA with limits to one deer. , as well as permit area 111 in the Baudette area, which is “male only” because deer populations remain below the population goal.

CWD sampling will be mandatory during the opening weekend of the regular firearm deer hunting season in parts of the region, including the East Grand Forks-Crookston-Climax area in DPA 661 as well as in DPA 184 and adjacent DPAs. Hunters should consult the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook or the MNR website (mndnr.gov/CWD) for important details on CWD sampling and monitoring, carcass movement restrictions , deer feed and attractant bans, and more. Hunters are encouraged to develop a plan (mndnr.gov/DeerHunt) and must follow all CWD sampling requirements and carcass movement restrictions in their DPA.