Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

Nov. 19, 2001

Deer hunt good, but not what was expected

Deer hunting and deer numbers were good throughout our area. However, due to several factors, the hunt wasn't as good as expected.

First of all, registration numbers at Joe's Sport Shop and other registration stations in the area, were very similar to last year, and if you factor in two new registration stations, the Depot in Lester Prairie, and the Treasure Hunt between Winsted and Lester Prairie, the number were almost the same as last year.

In 2000 Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake registered a total of 150 deer. 84 in the first season and 66 in the second season. In 2001 Joe's registered a total of 144 deer. 80 in the first season and 64 in the second.

The Depot registered a total of 42 deer this season: 21 in the first season and 21 in the second.

At the Treasure Hunt, 16 deer were registered the first season, and because of being open limited hours during the registration period for the second season, only eight deer were registered, for a season total of 24.

Of the deer registered in the area this year, a majority were yearlings or small deer compared to previous years.

According to several hunters, this year's deer herd definitely consisted of smaller, younger deer, with hunters noting there was probably a good crop of twins and or triplets born this year.

Other factors leading to the slower hunt included the full moon and bright night sky during the first season. Warm weather seemed to slow deer and deer hunter movement, and a delay in the rutting season. A few hunters noted it seemed the bucks weren't in full rut yet, and that they were just getting into the runt and starting to move more during the last two days of the Zone 4B season.

Another factor affecting deer hunting in our area is the continued and increased urbanization of our countryside and area. More and more wood lots and slough areas have homes build in or next to them, and every time a new country home gets built there is often one less place to deer hunt.

While the area or specific spot is lost as a hunting location, it will often still hold deer. In fact, deer have become so adaptable to these areas, I believe they prefer them. The deer definitely know these areas are safe havens and most likely are never pushed out or move out of them during the firearms hunting season.

In upcoming weeks, the DNR will release harvest numbers for the 2001 season and we will be able to take a more accurate look how the hunting was this year across the state compared to previous years.

Outdoor notes

­ The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opens Saturday. Nov. 24. The wearing of blaze orange by those using the outdoors during the muzzleloader season is required. For more information on blaze orange requirements please refer to the 2001 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping regulations Handbook.

­ The pheasant hunting in Minnesota has definite been hit and miss this season. While there are pockets of good bird numbers in certain part of the state, the numbers in western Minnesota are lower than what I expected. In December, we'll take another look at Minnesota pheasant hunting and compare hunter success to the DNR surveys released in September.

­ The duck hunting season in Minnesota closes Tuesday, Nov. 27. With some bad weather, look for one more rush of birds before the season closes.

­ For some of the best fishing of the season for lunker walleyes and northern pike, strap on your waders and try night fishing in the shallows on almost any of the lakes in our area. From now until freeze up can be the best time of year to nab that lunker.

­ Get ready for winter. Although the weather this November has been great, we all know it won't last. Cold weather, ice and snow will be here before you know it.

­ Take a kid hunting or fishing, you will have fun, and so will he or she.

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