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Firearm season promises to be more productive

Getting a shot at an elusive whitetail deer will be the goal of hundreds of thousands of deer hunters across Minnesota when the firearms deer hunting season begins Nov. 7.

A deck that was stacked against deer hunters last year has gotten a new shuffle.

The framework of the 2015 firearm season will still be a conservative one compared to past seasons but Department of Natural Resources personnel are agreed it should be more productive. The statewide deer harvest in 2014 was 127,000. Some 111,000 of those deer were taken during the firearms season.

"It should be improved over last year," Park Rapids wildlife manager Erik Thorson said.

Not only is the deer population up according to Thorson, the weather that has befriended the herd's recovery since last winter is now smiling on hunters.

Past seasons have seen adverse weather conditions and standing cornfields hampering success during the hunting season.

"It has been pretty good harvesting conditions this year so I expect a lot of the corn will be harvested," Thorson said.

Fergus Falls wildlife manager Don Schultz agrees with Thorson about the crops and feels the long-term weather forecast favors hunters.

"We couldn't have had a better setup for this season," Schultz said. "We had a mild winter and good reproduction."

DNR conservation officer Tricia Plautz, who operates in the Henning area, has been seeing a lot of deer at dusk. She has also seen some very healthy deer.

"I think the protein in their diet is fairly good," Plautz said.

Plautz believes the rutting period which triggers a lot of movement by deer has started in some areas but is still coming in others.

Thorson calls the last week of October the "pre-rut period."

"The most activity is probably the week before (the season)," Thorson said. "We expect really good deer movement."

While "hunter's choice" will prevail in most of the kill blocks around Wadena, the season limit will be more liberal northwest of Wadena in permit area 241 and southeast of Wadena in permit area 214.

"Hunter's choice" means deer hunters can take one buck or one doe. In 241 and 214, the "managed" tag means hunters can take an antlered or antlerless with their regular tag and one antlerless deer by purchasing a bonus tag.

The firearm season in the giant 200 series zone begins one-half hour before sunrise Saturday, Nov. 7 and ends one-half hour after sunset Sunday, Nov. 15.