Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

For many hunters, one deer and done

St. Paul — When the firearms deer-hunting season kicks off Saturday, hunters in many parts of the state will be dealing with something they may not have experienced in years – one-deer bag limits.

In 121 of the state’s 128 permit areas, hunters may harvest only one deer this year. As a result, officials expect this year’s total kill to be the lowest in years.

At the low end, they say, the kill could be around 120,000. But even if it’s higher than that, they don’t expect it to be much higher.

“I don’t expect it to be up around 140,000,” said Leslie McInenly, the DNR’s big game program leader.

It’s unclear how this year’s conservative regulations – in 14 northeastern permit areas, hunters may shoot only bucks – will affect hunter numbers, though as of two weeks before the opener, license sales were running ahead of the past three years at the same time.

In some areas, hunters may be surprised by the number of deer they see, McInenly said. Reports from around the state indicate there was good fawn recruitment this year, but she also noted conservative regulations last year saved some deer.

“Numbers in some places may be higher than some folks are expecting,” McInenly said.

This year’s regulations are at least in part a response to complaints about deer numbers that some hunters perceive as too low. On the heels of last year’s season, when hunters killed about 173,000 deer, the DNR and Minnesota Deer Hunters Association embarked on “listening sessions” across the state.

Though the DNR is in the process of re-evaluating deer-population goals in many parts of the state – and those goals have a direct influence on management – this year’s regulations should help grow the herd.

“Clearly, there’s a social component to it. We recognize there are some folks out there who are saying that numbers are way too low, and they want to turn this around today,” McInenly said. “That’s not going to happen. But for 2014, we could take a conservative approach and respond to some of those concerns.”

The agency’s management direction could change next season, depending on the outcome of the forthcoming goal-setting process. And in some areas, the response to this year’s conservative regulations could be “pretty robust,” she said.

“I don’t think we’ll be looking at this conservative of a season going on for a number of years,” McInenly said.

The season in the 100 series of permit areas runs Nov. 8-23. In the 200 and 300 series, it runs Nov. 8-16. The late season in the southeastern part of the state runs Nov. 22-30. In the metro area – Permit Area 601 – the season runs Nov. 8-30.

Goal-setting process

The DNR is accepting applications from people who want to be part of the goal-setting process for a total of 40 permit areas in five parts of the state. The self-nomination period ends Monday, Nov. 17.

The DNR will create five advisory teams of 15 to 20 people per team. Participants will take part in one or two public meetings and two or three team meetings. All the meetings will be held in February and March of 2015.

Teams will be created for the following areas:
• Area 1 – Superior Uplands Arrowhead, which includes permit areas 117, 122, 126, 127, 180.
• Area 2 – North Central Plains Moraines, which includes permit areas 169, 172, 184, 197, 210, 298.
• Area 3 – Pine Moraines, which includes permit areas 241, 242, 246, 248, 251, 258, 259, 287.
• Area 4 – East Central Uplands, which includes permit areas 152, 155, 156, 157, 159, 183, 221, 222, 225, 247, 259.
• Area 5 – Sand Plain-Big Woods, which includes permit areas 223, 224, 227, 229, 235, 236, 249, 285, 338, 339.

“The advisory teams provide a great opportunity for DNR staff to work directly with citizens who are interested in deer management,” McInenly said. “By bringing in diverse, local interests, the DNR aims to collectively identify deer population goals that are ecologically sustainable and socially acceptable.”

To learn more about the goal-setting process, or apply to serve on one of the teams, log on to http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/advisory.html

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