DNR: Deer count looks promising
November 4, 2022
More than 400,000 deer hunters are preparing for the firearms deer season opening Saturday, Nov. 5. The season offers opportunities to spend time outdoors with friends and family, find adventure, and put venison in the freezer.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources relies on deer hunting as the primary tool in managing deer populations. Hunters help keep deer numbers in line with population goals across the state. Managing deer populations contributes to the overall health of Minnesota’s landscapes, natural systems and economy, the DNR said in its announcement of the hunting season.
DNR wildlife managers report good opportunities to harvest deer in most areas. Hunters need to know the boundaries of the deer permit areas and any chronic wasting disease regulations that apply to where they hunt.
Here is the DNR’s forecast for the northeast part of the state that covers Carlton County:
Last winter’s weather was moderate or severe with deep snow over most deer permit areas in the northeast region. During severe winters, thermal cover and forage availability become more important. In deep snow, deer have more difficulty moving around and become more susceptible to predation.
Many northern permit areas are still struggling to recover deer numbers. As a result, many areas will again have lower antlerless permit offerings or will be bucks-only. This will give local deer populations the chance to grow in areas where their numbers are below the established, publicly vetted population goals. The DNR will be reviewing deer population goals this winter in the area covering the southern portion of the northeast region, the area just south and west of Cloquet.
The best harvest opportunities will be in that southern portion of the northeast region, where deer numbers are higher and not affected by winter weather to the same extent as the more northern permit areas. The highest deer numbers are expected in areas of mixed habitat of open fields and forest. Current dry conditions should provide good access for hunters.
Chronic wasting disease management zones in the region will provide additional harvest opportunities. Hunters are encouraged to make a plan and must follow CWD sampling requirements and carcass movement restrictions.
Three interrelated factors have the most impact on the deer population in the northeast: forest habitat quality, winter severity and predation. Forest cover, food availability and predator numbers, as well as hunting pressure, vary across the landscape and can make a big difference on local deer populations. Differences in seasonal weather and deer survival, especially over winter, greatly affect local deer numbers. Scouting for local pockets of deer will improve hunter success.