Ideal hunting weather during the opening weekend of Minnesota’s firearms deer season helped hunters harvest 207,000 deer during the 2010 season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
This is an 8 percent increase from the 2009 harvest of 194,186 and the 13th largest harvest on record. Minnesota’s deer harvests have moderated in recent years because the deer herd is at or near population goals across much of Minnesota. Due to varying local population differences, some areas of the state may have experienced a lower harvest rate.
“We didn’t see a dramatic change in harvest this year because half of our deer permit areas were in the lottery designation, which allows for the harvest of only one deer annually,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.
Firearms hunters harvested 176,200 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 21,500 and 9,300 deer, respectively. Archery hunters harvested 4 percent more deer in 2010. The muzzleloader harvest increased 12 percent from 2009.
Good weather during the opening weekend of firearms deer season likely resulted in hunters remaining in the field longer, which increased their chances of harvesting a deer. Also, most crops had been harvested, which reduced the amount of standing cover available to deer.
Once final population estimates are completed this spring, DNR will evaluate them against established population goals to determine the antlerless permit areas for 2011.
“Hunters should pay close attention to the hunting synopsis, which comes out in late July, to see if they need to apply for a lottery either-sex permit,” Cornicelli said.
The final deer harvest number is calculated using information provided by hunters when they register their deer. Historical harvest information is available online at mndnr.gov/deer.
For the 2011 season, the deadline for the either-sex permit application will be Thursday, Sept. 8. Archery deer hunting will begin on Saturday, Sept. 17. The statewide firearms deer hunting season will open on Saturday, Nov. 5, while muzzleloader season opens on DNR,
First-time youth turkey hunters ages 12 to 17 have the chance to go afield this spring and learn from an experienced National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) volunteer.
Applications, maps and general information for the wild turkey hunt are available online at www.mndnr.gov/youthturkey. Application deadline is midnight on Monday, Feb. 14. Participants will be selected through a random lottery.
“Mentored hunts are an excellent way to match a youth and their parent with an expert hunter to learn a life-long skill,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Not only do these hunts provide an opportunity for mentors to pass on their knowledge, they are quality family time afield.”
This is the ninth consecutive year that the DNR and the NWTF have cooperated to provide opportunities for first-time youth turkey hunters. More than 1,000 youth have been introduced to this unique hunting experience since spring youth turkey hunts began in 2002.
Hunts will occur on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17, which is the first weekend of the regular wild turkey season. Nearly all youth will hunt on private land, thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permissions.
To be eligible, a youth hunter must be age 12 to 17 on or before Saturday, April 16; have a valid firearms safety certificate; and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The program is for first-time turkey hunters only. Any youth who has ever purchased or been selected by lottery for a Minnesota turkey license of any type is not eligible.
Hunters and their mentors will be assigned a NWTF volunteer guide, who must accompany both the youth and parent/guardian throughout the entire hunt.
Those who would like to participate as a mentor, or volunteer their land for the youth mentored hunts, should contact their local NWTF chapter online at www.nwtfchapter.org/minnesotastatechapter. Click “In Your State” on the left-hand side of the page to locate the nearest chapter.
A statewide aerial survey conducted Jan. 5 – 8 revealed that the population of trumpeter swans in Minnesota has more than doubled in the last five years, according Larry Gillette, wildlife manager for Three Rivers Park District, which organized the survey.
The survey was coordinated by Three Rivers Park District in conjunction with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Nongame Wildlife Program and The Trumpeter Swan Society. It is conducted every five years as part of a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) effort to determine the number of trumpeter swans in North America. The funding for the aerial portion of the survey was provided by USFWS.
“The results are actually higher than almost everyone expected,” said Gillette. “Conditions were ideal for the survey this winter, because deep snow kept swans out of agricultural fields where they would be hard to see, and cold weather reduced the number of areas with open water.”
The final count in Minnesota was 5,362 trumpeter swans found at 20 locations in 14 counties. In addition, some trumpeters that nest in Minnesota migrate to Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Kansas for the winter. The estimate is that around 600 trumpeters migrate from Minnesota. Adding these migrant swans to the number counted in Minnesota adds up to almost 6,000 birds.
However, some Minnesota swans have spilled over the border and are now nesting in the Kenora District of western Ontario. These birds migrate back to Minnesota for the winter and are counted in the survey. Therefore, the actual number of trumpeter swans present in Minnesota in September, 2010 is estimated at 5,500. The population estimate in 2005 was slightly more than 2,000 trumpeters, so the population has been growing at more than 20 percent per year.
Trumpeter swans are the largest North American waterfowl. They once nested across Minnesota but were hunted to extinction in Minnesota for their meat and feathers by the 1880s. In 1979, Three Rivers Park District (then Hennepin County Park Reserve District) began releasing trumpeter swans in park reserves just west of Minneapolis in the first effort to restore this species to Minnesota.
The DNR Nongame Wildlife Program joined the restoration effort in the mid-1980s. DNR biologists collected eggs in Alaska, raised the chicks in captivity and released the swans at two years of age in western Minnesota. This joint effort resulted in a spectacular wildlife restoration success story. Trumpeter swans now nest across almost all of Minnesota and have expanded their range northward into western Ontario, Canada.