A New Antlerless Deer Season

      A new early antlerless deer season will be held in a few permit areas north of Duluth and along the North Shore this fall. Here’s the story we published in the News Tribune on Thursday describing that season and the reasons behind it:

     For the first time, a two-day early-season antlerless deer hunt will be held in four permit areas north and east of Duluth this fall. The firearms hunt will be Oct. 11 and 12 in permit areas where deer populations are considered too high.

    Previously, early-season antlerless hunts had been held in other parts of the state, but never in Northeastern Minnesota. The new season in this area came as a surprise to most hunters when hunting regulations hit outdoor shops and license outlets recently. While many firearms deer hunters are likely to welcome the additional two-day season, some bowhunters might not like having firearms hunters in the woods during the prime portion of archery season.

During the antlerless hunt, hunters may take up to two antlerless deer in permit areas 178, 180, 181 and 182, north of Duluth and along the North Shore beyond Two Harbors. The city of Duluth is not included in the hunt. Hunters will need to purchase a regular firearms or muzzleloader deer license, then buy one or two antlerless deer permits for the hunt at $7.50 each.

Taking only antlerless deer  the does that would have fawns next spring  more quickly reduces a deer population than taking a mix of bucks and antlerless deer.

After a series of mild to average winters, the deer population has increased in many permit areas, said Jeff Lightfoot, Department of Natural Resources regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids. Hunters have been allowed to take up to five deer each fall in many permit areas during the regular firearms season in November, but that hasnt reduced populations enough in the four permit areas open to the early-season hunt this fall, he said.

The idea would be that we dont stay at this early antlerless season very long, Lightfoot said. Hopefully, people will take advantage of this early hunt and start bringing that population down.

Most firearms hunters are likely to welcome the early hunt, said John Chalstrom of Chalstroms Bait and Tackle north of Duluth.

For the most part, most of the rifle guys are going to see it as another opportunity and enjoy it, Chalstrom said.

He noted that muzzleloaders will be permitted during the early antlerless season. The regular muzzleloader season follows the states firearms deer hunt and stretches into December. During the regular muzzleloader season, deer are on edge from the firearms hunt, and conditions can be cold, Chalstrom said. That will be different in the October hunt.

As long as its not a rainy weekend, the muzzleloader guys should have some of the best opportunity theyve had in years, he said.

Some bowhunters, however, arent likely to appreciate the early firearms season. Bow season for deer opens in mid-September, and bowhunters typically have better chances at bucks in late October, as the mating season approaches.

A good percentage of the archery-only guys arent going to be happy with that early [antlerless] season, with a lot of guns going off and the rut possibly starting, Chalstrom said.

The DNR purposely set the season as early as was practical in October, the DNRs Lightfoot said, so bowhunters would have the last half of October to themselves in the woods.