In spite of last year’s winter season that wouldn’t end, acting area Wildlife Supervisor for the DNR David Kanz says deer populations are comparable to last season, meaning not much has changed in local hunting zones.
“Even though the length of the winter was quite long it was a fairly non-severe winter up until about late February or March. Then we started to get into winter, so our deer were in pretty good shape,” Kanz said. “We were worried about those late snow falls, but the deer went into the winter with a pretty good fat load. They didn’t have to use it in December or January, it wasn’t until that late February or March that they were starting to feel some kind of stress and had to start using their reserves.”
Area 172 will require antlerless permits just like last year. Similarly, areas 246, 259, 247, 249 will allow the harvest of one deer with or without antlers, and areas 242 and 248 will be managed areas where hunters can take two deer.
“We’ve kept it pretty much the same as last year,” Kanz said.
In zones where antlerless permits are required, deer populations are likely down and can be increased by limiting the number of antlerless deer harvested during season. Hunter’s choice zones are areas where hunters are able to take one deer of any gender because populations are stable. Management areas, on the other hand, have too many deer, so hunters are able to harvest more than one deer per season, thus cutting down the population more drastically.
The work area monitored by Kanz’s office covers Aitkin County, Crow Wing County and the southern half of Cass County. Throughout most of that area Kanz says deer populations have been stable over the past few years, as a result, there is little reason to change.
“This last year we harvested about 21,000 deer. If everything stays the same my prediction would be that our harvest will probably be about the same amount,” Kanz said.
Kanz did say that with a late start to deer season there will likely be plenty of bucks in rut, which could mean a bigger buck harvest this year.
Season opener starts one half hour before sunrise Nov. 9 across the board, but permit areas in the 200s have a season that will end Nov. 17, and permit areas in the 100s will have a season that ends Nov. 24.
Depending on where they are, hunters may be hunting in the snow before the season is through.
“It should still be a really successful season so long as we hold off on the really bad cold weather. Typically most hunters like to have a little bit nicer weather.” Kanz said. “Some people like to have snow for visibility factors. We may get that toward the end of even the first week of season, but most likely we will have snow on the ground by the end of the second week in the zone 100 series.”
For those hunters who are parents, students, or teachers remember that all weapons are banned from school property. This includes any vehicles parked on school property. To avoid unneccesary inconvenience please remember to remove hunting rifles and shotguns from vehicles before going to a local school.