Hunters expected to see more deer, get fewer shots

Published 9:02 am Monday, October 29, 2012

DULUTH — Opening weekend of Minnesota’s firearms deer season may miss the peak of the rut this year, as the season opens Saturday.

“The peak of chasing time in the rut is Nov. 6 to 12,” said Tom Rusch, area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Tower. “We’ll probably see the peak of chasing the end of the first week and into the second weekend,”

Bucks probably will be moving on opening weekend, but not chasing, he said.

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“It won’t be the frenzied period,” Rusch said.

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.

But plenty of Minnesota’s expected 500,000 deer hunters probably will show up for opening weekend just the same. They’ll likely see more deer than last year, after a mild winter and excellent deer survival, Rusch said.

However, hunters won’t have as many antlerless deer tags in their pockets this fall. 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.