NEW LONDON - It was a quiet day at the area wildlife office for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Sibley State Park on Tuesday of this week, but make no mistake.
There will be lots of noise when the deer firearm season opens on November 9, as the prospects for a successful hunt are good.
Deer hunting was the subject for discussion on Tuesday when Cory Netland, area wildlife manager, and Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager, kept the office door open for the second round of open house meetings hosted by the DNR on its new deer plan.
Only a few visitors took advantage of the opportunity to visit about the plan or deer hunting in general. That’s no different than in April of last year, when the DNR hosted an evening open house at the Minnesota Department of Transportation headquarters in Willmar.
Deer numbers in the area are very healthy, according to Netland and Miller.
“If you liked last year, it’s not going to be any different,” said Miller in offering his prediction for this year’s hunt.
Last year, Minnesota deer hunters harvested 189,000 deer, or shy of the 200,000 deer that is the target in the state’s new deer plan. Last year, 6,624 hunters took to the field in permit area 277, which includes Kandiyohi and Meeker counties, and harvested 2,234 deer.
Deer numbers are best north of Highway 12, where there is more habitat, according to the wildlife staff. Deer numbers decline south of Highway 12. The numbers continue to decline south of Highway 7, until you reach the Minnesota River bottoms.
The new deer plan is not expected to bring any significant changes for deer hunters in this area, according to the wildlife workers. “Not a lot of change in this immediate area,” said Netland.
With a healthy deer population, area permits numbers remain liberal. Permit area 277 remains hunters choice.
CWD efforts continue
The DNR is continuing efforts to keep Chronic Wasting Disease at bay. Hunters in the eastern half of permit area 277- the area east of State Highway 4- will be required to have the deer they harvest on the opening weekend of the deer firearm season tested for CWD. Stations will be staffed in Litchfield, Kimball, Hutchinson and Howard Lake.
This is the third year of CWD testing in this area. No wild deer have been found to be infected. If we remain CWD free, the mandatory testing will likely end next year, said Netland.
A deer feeding ban goes into effect September 1 in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Stearns, Wright, and McLeod counties and the northern half of Renville County. Hunters are reminded that means mineral blocks that contain food components are not allowed.
Expanded youth deer hunt
What may prove to be a big change is the expansion this year of the youth deer hunt. It will be hosted over a four day period, October 17 -20, the Minnesota Education weekend. It’s open this year for youths ages 10 to 17. Each youth must be accompanied by an adult mentor and have a proper license.
The local wildlife workers believe the expanded days and age range will mean more youth and their mentors will be taking to the field for the hunt. They haven’t heard much feedback about it yet, but expect that they will. They know some hunters will be worried that the youth hunters will take trophy bucks before the firearm season. Archery hunters may not appreciate the firearm activity.