Weather Forecast


Weather will play crucial role in success of firearm deer season

The nine-day Minnesota firearm deer hunting season begins Nov. 3. Good deer numbers have been observed after a mild winter in 2011-2012. Photo by Brian Hansel

Area deer hunters will be flooding fields and woods Nov. 3 for the start of the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season.

Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Manager Rob Naplin of Park Rapids believes the success of the 2012 hunt will largely depend on the weather.

"If the weather continues as we're seeing it, the deer movements are going to be fairly consistent," Naplin said. "I look for us to have a pretty good deer season."

Naplin added that several inches of snow could change the equation.

Snowfall increases the movement of deer and increases their wariness.

Naplin said under those conditions, the feeding and traveling patterns of deer "should normalize in a week."

DNR deer harvest maps indicate Wadena is in the heart of Minnesota's best deer country. Hunters in Wadena County and eastern Otter Tail County averaged 5.3-8.4 deer per square mile last year, according to DNR figures.

Naplin believes the peak of the deer "rutting", or mating season will coincide with the second weekend of the Minnesota firearm season.

DNR Wildlife Manager Don Schultz of Fergus Falls observed conditions contributing to a rise in deer numbers have been good in 2012.

"We had an easy winter last year, which helped the survival of the deer,"

Schultz said.

Permit areas in the Wadena area will have the hunter choice option this year. That allows for the taking of one deer of either sex. Last year, area hunters had managed option of taking two deer.

"There aren't as many deer as there were 4-5 years ago, but there are deer," Schultz said.

The firearm deer hunting season draws the largest turnout of the three seasons Minnesota offers. The bow hunting season has been in progress since Sept. 15. The muzzleloader season begins Nov. 27.

With a crush of orange-clad hunters comes a busy time for conservation officers like Wadena's Greg Oldakowski.

"There are things that people plan to do and things that people tend to forget," Oldakowski said.

One of the deliberate plans is cruising back roads ,looking for deer with a loaded gun in the vehicle. Oldakowski said shooting deer off the road is not only illegal, but also dangerous. Hunters have told him about incidents where a road hunter shot in their direction because they did not know their location.

"The most dangerous thing to have is a loaded gun in proximity to a vehicle," Oldakowski said.

Another blunder Oldakowski sees a lot are hunters who forget to tag and register their deer kill. Deer can now be registered over the phone via a DNR website (Minnesota's Online Licensing Center) or at the big game registration station.

"It is easy to do," Oldakowski said.