Minnesota deer hunters are never short of opinions.
Put a bunch of them in the same room, ask them how the state’s deer herd is doing, and you’re sure to get an earful of divergent views.
But that was the point Thursday as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invited stakeholders to a deer listening session at the Nicollet Conservation Club. The meeting, co-hosted by the agency and the Bend of the River Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, was one of several held in recent weeks at locations around the state to glean comments, questions and opinions about deer and hunting.
Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Chief Paul Telander, along with regional and area DNR wildlife managers, explained deer management strategies to the 60 hunters who attended the meeting.
Deer populations are determined by two main factors. The one that can’t be controlled or adjusted is the weather. Severe winters like this year’s can be tough on deer herds. But the main source of deer mortality is hunting, particularly the firearms season.
By adjusting the number of of antlerless permits available each fall, the DNR can manage deer populations.
When measured by annual harvest levels, Minnesota deer hunting in the last two decades has been as good as ever, maybe even the best it’s been. Most notably, some of the highest deer harvests on record occurred just 10 years ago, thanks to liberal numbers of antlerless permits.
But according to the DNR, such harvest levels were unsustainable.
From 2005-2007, the DNR began gleaning opinions from public stakeholders about the deer population levels and used that input to determine population goals. In the case of the southeast, a Population Goal Committee recruited from a cross-section of stakeholders was used to determine population goals.