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DNR gives heads-up to state deer hunters

Photo by Brian Hansel Whitetail deer numbers are strong in the Wadena area as the 2012 archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons approach. A mild winter led to good recruitment.

August may be too early for most people to think whitetails, but not when there is a lottery season in the mix.

The Department of Natural Resources recently gave fair warning when they announced deer hunting licenses were available for purchase. Hunters who want to apply for an either-sex deer or special hunting permit for the coming year have to do it by Sept. 6. As the 2012 season approaches, 58 of the state's 127 kill blocks are lottery areas. Some of them have not required permits for the last few years. Hunters who apply for permits in lottery areas will be notified in October.

None of the lottery areas touch on Wadena County, Todd County or eastern Otter Tail County. In fact, the 412 kill block southeast of Wadena will allow hunters to go after two deer. The rest of the kill blocks will be hunter choice, an option the DNR introduced last year.

Hunter choice allows a person to kill one either-sex deer per year in designated areas. Hunters who apply for an either-sex permit in one kill block and are not drawn can travel to another kill block and take one deer of either sex. The intent with hunter choice is to make it easier for hunters to take one either-sex deer. People who harvest a deer in a hunter choice area are not allowed to take a second deer in another hunter choice or lottery deer area.

Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Manager Rob Naplin anticipates good deer numbers.

"We had a mild winter so we're going to see real strong recruitment," Naplin said.

The chief problem for hunters during last year's firearm season was weather, not a lack of deer. Windy conditions during the first weekend created what many hunters considered to be a vanishing act. Naplin knew of hunting parties that called it quits by the second day.

"We thought, 'nobody is shooting any deer, the deer harvest is going to be way down,' but it did not turn out that way," Naplin recalled.

Based on the results of the 2011 hunt and the light winter, Naplin feels the pieces are in place for a very good 2012 hunting season.

"We're going to have a good hunt this fall, if we have good weather," Naplin said.