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Firearms deer hunting season begins Saturday

Minnesota’s nine-day firearms hunting season for white-tailed deer begins Saturday.

The firearms deer hunting season begins Saturday over most of Minnesota and Greg Henderson, a Department of Natural Resources technician in the wildlife section at Park Rapids, feels Wadena-area hunters will see good numbers of whitetails.

 A little more than a third (38 percent) of Minnesota’s 2012 firearms hunters bagged deer last year. The season’s total deer harvest was 222,000 – the eighth-highest number on record.

“It should be similar numbers,” Henderson said. “I think hunters will see what they saw last year and maybe even a few more deer.”

The extremely long winter of 2012-2013 caused some deer mortality in the Wadena area according to Henderson. Snow could still be found on the ground in late April. According to Henderson, exposure and starvation were the two main causes for the deer losses.

“I don’t think it was significant but we did receive a few calls last year,” Henderson said.

Henderson rates Wadena and other central Minnesota communities as fortunate when it comes to deer.

“It’s got a good amount of ideal habitat,” Henderson said. “We’ve always had good deer numbers in that area and it should continue.”

While local deer numbers are strong despite the late spring, area hunters must also deal with the realities of changeable weather and cover. Windy conditions over the first weekend of the 2011 season stymied many hunters in Wadena and eastern Otter Tail County.  The type of weather Mother Nature chooses to serve up for deer hunters often makes a big difference.

“Sometimes people don’t like to admit that but it really does,” Henderson said.  “Wind and weather definitely affect deer, just like it affects us. One year I remember it was 18 below zero and the deer might have been there but a lot of people just weren’t on the stand.”

A late spring planting season has also led to a late harvest of corn and soybeans in the area. Standing cornfields make excellent cover for deer.

“It definitely has some effect when they’re left standing,” Henderson noted. “Farmers have had a rough fall. We’ve had moisture fairly regularly.”

What stage the rut is in can also make a difference Henderson said. The rutting, or mating period, for white-tails usually runs the second and third weeks of November.

A study done by DNR wildlife technician Tom Stursa a few years ago determined the chase phase of whitetail deer mating generally begins around Nov. 17.

The 240, 241 and 214 kill blocks that meet in Wadena are all open to managed bag limits. Hunters in managed kill blocks can take one deer of either sex and one antlerless deer with the purchase of a bonus permit.

The nine-day deer hunting season in the Wadena area begins one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday and will end one-half hour after sunset on Sunday, Nov. 17. Daily shooting hours are posted in the 2013 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping regulations handbook.