The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced its deer season frameworks this week, and hunters in some permit areas can expect bag limits that are more liberal than they have been the past couple of years.
That’s definitely the case in northwest Minnesota, where several additional permit areas this year will be Hunter Choice, meaning hunters can shoot either a buck or a doe with their license. Many of those same permit areas last year offered a limited number of antlerless permits, which were available by lottery only.
Bonus permits are not allowed in Hunter Choice areas.
The uptick in licenses reflects an increase in deer numbers after two mild winters.
“About a third of our permit areas saw changes in hunting strategies, either from Hunter Choice to Managed or Lottery to Hunter Choice,” said John Williams, regional wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji.
In the northwest, he said the changes largely focus on permit areas near the Canadian border and along the Red River.
Williams, who often compares deer populations to a pendulum, said the pendulum definitely is swinging toward the side of more deer. Consecutive mild winters and a few years of conservative regulations have helped bolster that trend.
“It’s swinging toward a lot more deer real quick, and I think there are several of us who are concerned. We want to try to get ahead of anything like what happened in 2003, when we had more deer than we knew what to do with,” Williams said. “With two good winters and conservative strategies for the past few years, I think we’re at a point you’re going to see things go a little more aggressive to deer in certain areas.”
Meanwhile, in North Dakota, the Game and Fish Department said more 51,000 of the 102,000-plus hunters who applied for a deer license were unsuccessful in drawing a tag. More than 1,600 licenses remain in the southwest part of the state and are only available to resident hunters who failed to draw a tag in the first lottery.
North Dakota’s archery season opens at noon Sept. 2, a statewide youth season is set for Sept. 16-25, the deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 4 and muzzleloader season opens at noon Nov. 25. More information is available at gf.nd.gov.
In Minnesota, archery season opens Sept. 17, firearms deer season opens Nov. 5 and muzzleloader season opens Nov. 26. Regulations are available online at mndnr.gov.
I don’t know why the panda head is so darn funny.
It just is.
The brainchild of Jon Falch, a friend from Larimore, N.D., who bought the large, puffy prop as a gag several years ago, the panda head joined some friends and I last week on our fly-in fishing trip to Malette Lake Outpost Camp in northwestern Ontario.
The outpost is operated by Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts in Nestor Falls, Ont., which is about 5 hours northeast of Grand Forks.
We’d barely gotten our gear unloaded from the floatplane when the panda head made its first appearance in the kitchen of our cabin. It showed up in various locations throughout the week, peeking out from behind large pine trees, posing with unknowing fishing partners during naps and even making a surprise appearance in the camp outhouse reading an old issue of Time magazine.
Yes, there’s a photo to document that sighting—it’s not me in the picture—but the Time-reading panda will remain the object of laughs among the fishing trip crew and no one else.
The Ontario fly-in trip is just the latest stop for the panda head, which has been white sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River in Oregon and catfishing on the Red River near Selkirk, Man.
Everywhere it goes, it tends to turn heads.
Who knows where the panda head will turn up next.