ST, PAUL, Minn. - Deer biologists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expect a solid hunting season when it opens this Saturday.
Those predictions are based on the fact that deer populations are stable across much of the state.
"Minnesota's deer population is largely stable in the southern half of the state because of mild winters and generally conservative deer management," said Leslie McInenly, the DNR's big game program leader. "Mild winters result in more survival of adults, more fawns being born, and more deer in the state's fields and forests the following hunting season."
The Winter season, which is a significant source of mortality in Minnesota deer, ranged from moderate to severe in northern Minnesota. As a result, permit areas across most of northern Minnesota are designated either lottery or hunter choice.
McInenly said deer permit management designations that limit hunters to one, two or five deer largely are the same as last year. The limits reflect the DNR's interest in rebuilding or maintaining the deer herd in certain portions of the state by managing the harvest.
Hunters may find farmland conditions more challenging due to a late corn harvest, which results in a substantial amount of standing corn.
Last year, the DNR says Minnesota's nearly 500,000 deer hunters harvested 186,000 deer. A similar harvest is expected this year.
The firearms deer season concludes Sunday, Nov. 24, in Series 100 permit areas, which cover much of northeastern Minnesota. In Series 300 permit areas, which cover the southeastern corner of the state, the first season ends Sunday, Nov.17, but a late season opens Saturday, Nov. 23, and concludes Sunday, Dec. 1. Firearms season ends Sunday, Nov. 17, in Series 200 permit areas, which cover the remainder of the state.
Minnesota's deer harvest has varied widely over the past half century. In a historical context, too many deer were taken during the 1960s, forcing the closure of the deer season in 1971 and a rebuilding of the deer herd from the 1970s through the 1990s.
The highest deer harvest occurred in 2003, when 290,000 deer were taken as part of an effort to reduce the deer herd. Today, the DNR manages the deer population based on goals established with public input.
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )