Thoughts on the metro 601 deer zone

A number of weeks ago I wrote a column keying in on my bowhunting exploits in the metro 601 deer zone. Since then I have received lot of emails and voicemails from readers who said they thought I was overtouting this area as “loaded with deer.” Let me clarify: the metro zone is not loaded with deer and actually has been declining in deer numbers for about six years.

I like that just about anything can happen in this zone – from a giant, rutty buck (that has been living behind somebody’s garage for years) can walk past, or a dog walker may go right under your stand. 

Recently I just returned from a two-day run to Wisconsin and spent two days on stand with not seeing any deer. I came home disgusted on a Saturday morning and turned on the Three Stooges (yes, I could change this to the History Channel or Discovery Channel, but it’s my reality) and flopped down in my leather chair.

A few minutes later a giant of a buck walked by my sliding glass window. One of the biggest bucks I have ever seen probably kicked out of his 601 metro hiding place on the slug opener. This proves they are there in some quality.

Recently, I received permission from a landowner to hunt his 30 acres of woods near my home in western Hennepin County this fall and I was lucky enough to tag a nice antlerless deer during the first couple of weeks.

My policy is to take one deer off a property, then move while trying not to over impact one property. This landowner also allowed his relatives to slug hunt this small woods and they managed to nuke the entire property by taking two fawns, one yearling doe, and a small forkhorn. Here is a common example of a group taking every possible deer off a property and leaving nothing for seed. This is often the mentality of the 601 metro zone.

Roadkills where I live were a very common sight when I first moved here. It was very common to see multiple dead deer piled up along Highway 55 and 101, even in groups of two or three at a time. I haven’t seen a roadkilled deer in years other than the big buck that totalled my truck on Highway 55 years ago. This proves to me the numbers in the 601 metro are not there.

I also have some cop friends who work the night shift in western Hennepin County and they concur that they are not seeing deer during the nights they are on duty patrolling. Six or seven years ago they were dodging them nightly on the roads after dark. This fact alone speaks volumes versus any governmental statistics.

The 601 metro zone is unique and hard to compare with other zones because of the terrain, small woodlots, poaching, predators and the ridiculous, extended gun season that eats up almost the entire month of November. Tack on the muzzleloader season to this zone and you have a season that extends way too long.

The deer in this zone get hounded far too long. The flip side is that the two largest bucks I have ever taken with a bow happened to be in the 601 metro zone. Once again, I firmly believe the deer numbers are way down here. We keep coming back to 601 because the potential is there for a trophy buck if that is your goal.

Many of us hunt this zone because it is convenient and the current cost of gas and travel prohibits many of us from making too many extended range trips. Choosing to hunt in 601 means taking the good with the bad and rolling with the results

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