Deer herd looks strong as season opener beckons
Published 12:00 am Monday, October 15, 2001
Minnesota’s deer population rebounded nicely from a tough winter, and the herd looks strong for firearms hunters gearing up for the Nov.
Monday, October 15, 2001
Minnesota’s deer population rebounded nicely from a tough winter, and the herd looks strong for firearms hunters gearing up for the Nov. 3 opener.
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According to Tony Musatov, local conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, local deer populations are adequate to support a good hunting season, but at the same time, there is not an excess.
&uot;I know the severity of the winter and the cover conditions did cause some winter kill, but I’m seeing healthy deer out there,&uot; Musatov said. &uot;There are a lot of fawns, so the reproduction was there.&uot;
The DNR will probably not be issuing management tags this year for the Freeborn County area, especially considering the slight drop in deer harvest predictions, Musatov said. Tags are issued during some seasons that allow hunters to bag more deer in certain areas that have high numbers.
&uot;I doubt there would be a need for tags this year,&uot; he said. &uot;But there are enough deer to go around, I think.&uot;
Deer are Minnesota’s most popular wildlife species. More than 500,000 hunters take to the state’s open spaces every fall, harvesting about 125,000 whitetails.
While hunters anticipate the deer opener, bird hunters are already having success. Musatov said he was impressed by the waterfowl opener two weeks ago. He saw a lot of hunters making their limits of ducks and geese. But lately, the birds seem to be getting wiser.
&uot;There’s a lot of competition out there for the remaining birds. But, as it gets cooler in Canada, we should see the push of the northern birds,&uot; he said. &uot;That should make hunters happy again.&uot;
The pheasant season opener over the weekend was not as successful as the waterfowl opener, which was not a surprise to DNR researchers, Musatov said. The cold wet spring was not kind to pheasant populations across the state.
&uot;The pheasant numbers are just not there. It’s going to be a tough season,&uot; he said. &uot;But, if you look hard enough, you might be able to find a few hot spots in the area.&uot;
Most of the violations Musatov has seen so far this hunting season have either involved toxic lead shot or license and certification issues. In particular, many waterfowl hunters do not have their HIP (Harvest Information Program) certifications. The free certification helps federal wildlife authorities keep better tabs on migratory bird populations.
&uot;I’m taking a pretty understanding approach with HIP violations,&uot; Musatov said.