The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that harvests are down across the state by one-third from last year’s numbers.  Many factors go into explaining this phenomenon.  It could just be a quantity issue, meaning the numbers are simply down.  It could be a higher quality management mentality, meaning people pass on small bucks letting them get bigger for next year.  It could be as simple as the weather too, which for deer hunting this year was interesting and challenging to say the least.

Reports show it was windy statewide, and when I say windy, I mean near debilitating wind for both humans and deer.  Irregardless of the numbers, the deer were just not moving.  The weather affects their ability to hear and smell. 

To the contrary, the second weekend was almost too nice.  Go figure . . . us deer hunters want our cake while eating it too.  The balmy temperatures led to stand naps and content deer waiting for dark to move. 

In our hunting region, I heard significantly less shooting than years past.  Again, the reason is probably parallel with the harvest numbers, but it appeared the deer didn’t seem to be experiencing the intense urge to put on the feed bag quite yet. 

However, just like every year, people bagged big bucks.  Quality deer management programs could be a big part of that and a big boon for the Minnesota deer population, so long as people manage right.  Just getting people thinking about management is a huge shift from prior years where the deer camp mentality meant the more hanging on the poll the better. 

Years of letting little bucks grow up paid off for our camp this year.  My father was able down a dandy main beam 6×6 13 pointer, while I tagged a respectable 10 pointer cruising through the woods for a responsive doe.  For us, the adventure included boating across a lake to get to the stand, and doing the same the other way with a big buck aboard.  We will save that story for another time.

Despite the low harvest this year, the deer are there.  Continued management by both the DNR and hunters can only benefit the population.  If we all make smart decisions, there is nothing but upside for the future of the Minnesota whitetail. 

Copyright 2011 Backwoods Revolution

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