Hunters should plan to dress warm and expect wet conditions in much of state for the opening weekend of Minnesota's deer rifle season, which kicks off Saturday at a half hour before sunrise.
Hunters like Dylan Dumpprope, who is hunting in an area between Bluffton and Wadena, said his swampy area will be a bit more wet than usual but it didn't seem to change his plans of getting out for the first weekend. He and a trove of other hunters were stopped at the Knobhill Sportsman's Club in Wadena during their annual sight-in days Saturday, Nov. 2. No one seemed deterred by the onset of winter.
"My buddy said the rut's in full swing," Dumpprope said. He noted that the friend had witnessed bucks fighting with each other while out bow hunting this last week. The activity is a good sign bucks will be chasing after does, likely keeping deer on the move throughout the day.
Temperatures won't rise much above freezing according to National Weather Service in Grand Forks. If the cold doesn't bother you, wet ground might slow you down. Getting to hunting grounds may be a bit of a task for some hunters as an abundance of moisture this fall has left many swamp areas with above average standing water. The moisture has also disrupted farmers trying to harvest area fields, meaning deer likely have an added area of protection in standing corn.
Hunters in all zones surrounding Wadena including 241, 240 and 214 are all designated as intensive harvest, meaning there is a three deer limit per hunter. Those hunting just to the northeast of Wadena in zone 246, in the areas of Lyons and Huntersville state forests are limited to one deer of their choice. Further east is our region's closest brush with CWD management in zone 604 in the Brainerd Lakes area.
While regulations have not changed drastically in our region, DNR conservation officer Tricia Plautz out of Henning said Wadena and Todd county residents should be aware that CWD regulations have made their way into the area as of Sept. 1. There is a ban on all deer feeding and attractants in the following north central counties: Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. Because of the discovery of a CWD-positive wild deer in February, the north central counties previously under a deer feeding ban are now also included in an attractant ban. All of Cass and Mille Lacs counties are included in this feeding and attractant ban, and Hubbard, Todd and Wadena counties have been added to the restrictions.
Find more information on feeding and attractant bans at mndnr.gov/cwd/feedban.html.
Plautz also stated she's been seeing increased activity among breeding bucks in the area.
"We've got a good population of deer and it should be a prime season for some good harvest success," Plautz said.
It's expected some 500,000 Minnesota hunters will take to the outdoors in search of deer during the deer season. Hunters saw good success rates last year, with a total registered harvest of 188,706 deer. As of Nov. 4, 2019, Minnesota hunters had already registered 21,208 deer from archery and youth deer hunts, according to an interactive deer map put out by the Minnesota DNR. You can access that at mndnr.gov/deermap.
Hunters are required to register every deer they harvest before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal. Hunters can register deer online, via phone or in person. Information from deer registration is important to the DNR’s ability to track and manage deer populations. Detailed registration instructions for all methods are available on the DNR website.
If you go
What: 2019 Minnesota Deer Hunting Opener
When: Season starts Saturday, Nov. 9 a half hour before sunrise, that's about 6:43 a.m. in Wadena.
Who: Nearly 500,000 hunters typically harvest nearly 200,000 deer during the duration of deer seasons each year.
Know before you go: Review the DNR regulation handbook before buying a license and heading afield. As of Sept. 1, it's illegal to feed or use attractants for deer in various areas around the state including Todd and Wadena counties.