Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Best opener in years?

More deer, looser regulations, and seasonable weather favor hunter success

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 10/31/18

REGIONAL— Hunters should find seasonable weather and a recovered deer herd as they take to the woods on Saturday for the opening of the 2018 firearms deer season.

“The last four winters have …

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Best opener in years?

More deer, looser regulations, and seasonable weather favor hunter success

Posted

REGIONAL— Hunters should find seasonable weather and a recovered deer herd as they take to the woods on Saturday for the opening of the 2018 firearms deer season.

“The last four winters have been mild to moderate, as measured by the DNR’s winter severity index,” said Tom Rusch, DNR wildlife manager for the Tower work area. “As a result, fawn production has been excellent, with twin fawns the norm in better areas.” That’s left deer populations in most permit areas in “the sweet spot,” said Rusch, with plenty available for hunters without the degree of overpopulation that can impact agriculture and forests.

The rebound in the deer herd is good news for hunters, not only because there are more potential targets in the woods. In response, the DNR has loosened bag limits, with most permit areas in St. Louis and Lake counties now designated as either “hunter’s choice” or “managed.”

Under hunter’s choice, hunters can take one deer of either sex with a valid license. In a managed zone, such as Permit Area 177 this year, hunters can take a deer of either sex and a second antlerless deer with a bonus tag. Only three local permit areas, 118, 132, and 108 are still designated as lottery, while 119 is the only permit area that remains bucks only. According to Rusch, a lack of winter cover in far northern St. Louis County has limited the recovery of deer populations there. Winter severity continues to remain the primary driver of the whitetail deer population in northeastern Minnesota, so adequate winter cover is a perennial challenge for deer. Predation and the anterless deer harvest are other contributing factors to deer mortality in the region.

Hunters will be out in the field just as the annual rut is ramping up. “The chasing phase of the rut should peak during the first week,” said Rusch, with breeding activity hitting its peak during the second week of the 16-day season. Deer movements typically slow somewhat during the breeding phase, according to Rusch.

Wet conditions could be a factor for hunters, as an extremely wet and cool fall has left an exceptional amount of water on the landscape. Areas that might have been accessible in the past may be difficult to reach this year, notes Rusch. “Swamps, low areas and crossings are inaccessible for wheeled vehicles in many areas,” he added. Lake and stream levels are also extraordinarily high for this time of year.

Forecasters are predicting typical weather conditions for opening weekend, with highs in the upper 30s and lows slightly below freezing. Unlike last year, it appears hunters won’t have a backdrop of snow cover to aid visibility, although a chance of snow showers Sunday, continuing off and on through the early part of the first week of the hunt, could lay down a dusting of white. Temperatures are forecasted to slowly cool, with highs around freezing by midweek.

Hunters will also find a slim crescent moon waning towards new on Nov. 7. That means deer should be most active at dawn and dusk, with less deer movement in the overnight hours. According to the solunar calendar, the area should see peak deer activity between 9:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. and a minor period of activity from 4:25 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.

Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset. On Saturday, Nov. 3, the sun will rise at 7:50 a.m. and will set at 5:55 p.m. in central St. Louis County, which would put the legal shooting hours from 7:20 a.m. to 6:25 p.m. Don’t forget that those times will change by an hour beginning Nov. 4, when we revert to central standard time.

Hunters will have the choice of registering their deer online, by phone (888-706-6367) or at traditional walk-in registration stations.

Comments

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Snowshoe2

Minnesota is managing the deer population at much lower objective than a decade or so ago. How often dommyou actually see a deer trail anymore. Look at OLD Aerial photo's of swamps of trails thru swamps that been used for 50 years. You can't find them trails on NEW Aerial photo's. Reason lot less deer which certain groups wanted and they pretty much control things now. Wildlife game managers have less to say now and also we have a change it what new managers think. less about hunting now.

Wednesday, October 31
snowshoe2

Well,any hunting stories now

Sunday, November 4