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Conditions good for productive deer season

After dealing firearm deer hunters two bad hands in a row, Mother Nature may be dealing them a good one this fall.

The abundance of unharvested row crops that plagued deer hunters for the last two years will not be a big factor in eastern Otter Tail and Wadena Counties this November.

University of Minnesota extension specialist Doug Holen in Fergus Falls believes hunters will be much more likely to see deer because of the progress of the harvest.

"If you want to take last year and this year as far as corn harvest we are on the opposite ends of the spectrum," Holen said. "Farmers who had to harvest their crops at 30-38 percent moisture last year and dry it, were harvesting corn in the 14-20 percent range in October."

DNR wildlife technician Tom Stursa of Park Rapids also sees the potential for a good deer hunting season. Stursa believes the two weeks of extended summer weather were great for farmers and hunters alike.

"The last two weeks of the extended summer we had in October the combines were going gangbusters," Stursa said.

Stursa looks for a deer harvest similar to last year in the Wadena and Park Rapids area. While it might be hard for some people to believe, Stursa says the numbers indicate that the deer population in Minnesota is down slightly. Stursa considers the local herd to be very healthy.

"I think the reproduction was really good," Stursa said. "I've seen a lot of twins out there."

Stursa has also seen a good number of bucks with large racks, indicating that they have had a good diet.

Fergus Falls DNR wildlife manager Don Schultz agreed that the deer herd is in good shape but pointed out that the quality of the deer hunting season often depends on the weather during the season.

"If we have halfway decent weather I think it's going to be a real good season," Schultz said.

Two of the four permit areas that surround Wadena were among the top seven in the state in total deer taken per square mile. Permit Areas 241 and 243 saw 6.9-10.4 deer harvested while Permit Areas 240 and 214 had 4.2-6.8 deer taken.

The season that begins Nov. 6 will see managed limits in Permit Area 240 and 241 and a lottery in 246. The nine-day season ends Nov. 14.

The DNR is expecting almost 500,000 people to participate in the firearms deer season. Minnesota hunters took 194,000 deer last year.