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island guy

deer numbers

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island guy

I'm curious to hear how those hunting smaller acreage agricultural lands like we have hear in Ottertail county have done.

I'm of the opinion that with the opportunity to purchase extra tags recently, the longer season, that a over-harvest of deer has taken place. Most of us in this area hunt smaller acreage farms or woods. In my area, I would guess the average size to be 180 acres give or take. Put say, 4-5 hunters on each of these areas, well, come to your own conclusion.

We have a 80 near us for example that is hunted by a group that buys as many permits as the current regs allow and shoots as many as the law allows. I assume each of these small areas hold hunters all looking to put deer in the freezer.

Point being, can this type of eco-system sustain healthy deer numbers with that sort of pressure and harvest?

In chatting with neighbors, some who have lived on their farms for generations, I hear reports that the last few years they have seen few deer. One reported to me she had seen fewer deer this year than she has in many years.

Any thoughts?

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Gissert

I have hunted my neighbors land (60 acres) in the Underwood area for the last 15 years. Some years are good, some years are not as good.

A lot of it has to do with the phase of the rut at the time.

Last weekend, the bucks seemed to to be holding very tight to receptive does, thus, there was not a whole lot of movement. On the 30th and the 31st, the deer movement was absolutely nuts. The crew across the highway had three adult does and two bucks the first morning. Where the does were, so were the bucks. Some years, we have had similar results while they have been spinning their wheels.

As far as numbers go, this year the buck numbers do seem to be down some over the prior year. My trail cameras have given me pretty solid evidance of that. The camera numbers I saw this year were about what I saw in 2005, buck wise. Doe/fawn numbers have been stable the last three years on our piece. Less bucks + stable doe numbers probably equals less chasing/seeking in my neck of the woods.

Since the move to Zone 2, I have not noticed much change in the hunting/harvest pattern than when we were zone 4. Most of the shooting/kills seem to happen the first half day. After Sunday, the hunting activitey tails WAAAAY off. I hunted Tuesday morning, and most of Tuesday afternoon. The afternoon pretty still conditions, and I heard a total of three shots in 4 hours.

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island guy

Gissert

Interesting comments. Do the neighboring lands near you get pounded hard? I drove around maybe a 5 square mile area around us on Sunday and can honestly say I've never seen so many hunters. I'm still of the belief that agricultural lands can't handle that kind of harvest. I would love to be wrong! Kinda reminds me of finding a honey hole of 3/4 pound bluegills in the winter. Once word gets out and the armies show up it's all done in a hurry.

It may be more of a local thing than I think. I to, do a lot of preseason scouting. On our land there is no doubt that numbers are way down. Bordering land has been harvested very hard the past 3 years. Send some of yours our way!! Sounds like we must hunt just a few miles apart.

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Gissert

I am just east of Underwood a bit. I would not say they get pounded. A crew of 8 took 5 deer which I do not think is unreasonable.

It is just so variable. Corn one year, beans the next, small grains, alfalfa...I just can't seem to get a pattern down.

I get good consistant deer patterns until about the time the velvet comes off, then everything starts to scatter to the wind.

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Mark Christianson

The area we hunt south of Vining is covered pretty darn good. 160 acres and less is the majority of what people are hunting. A guy that owns a 40 up the road from us, had 8 people hunting last year. Yes, 8 guys. I kid you not.

We have 120 acres and have usually 4 of us for rifle hunting.

This year we took a doe opening day. Thats all we have harvested from the land this year. I had one deer in range all weekend(saw a few others), Dad saw one deer all weekend, an my nephew shot the doe, and could have taken 2 other deer for sure.

So if we were meat hunting, we could have filled 4 tags certainly. So our report would be looking pretty good if we chose to fill freezers. But we are looking for a buck or two worthy of harvest.

Reports show 40 deer per square mile in the area.

I know there are a good number of deer. My trail cameras show it. But its almost 100% nocturnal movements. If I didnt have cameras, I would be screaming bloody murder that there are no deer at all around. crazy.gif

Harvests around us are pretty rotten this year adjacent to us. I know that.

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Gissert

I'll echo BLB's observation of noctournal activity.

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jerkin'm

We saw plenty of deer just South of Battle Lake....We hunt a large acreage with fields and woods in the mix. Since we have tried to hold off on the smaller bucks the last couple years, bucks are getting bigger...Best part, I shot Chuckies back yard buck... grin.gif

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fishermatt

We passed on a couple does and some small bucks opening day, then never saw squat the rest of the week. Many others we talked too had similar stories. There seemed to be deer around, but they only moved at night.

Our party of 6 was deerless until Sunday at 4:45 when I shot 3 for meat. I had seen 4 deer total the previous 8 days hunting on 3 different properties, then had 3 come in the last 1/2 hour of the season! At least we can have a sausage making party now!!!

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ccarlson

We hunt near Battle Lake and we saw plenty of deer this year overall although some days in particiular there was very little happening. We only had one good buck sighting, the rest were mostly does and small to medium bucks. In relation to the past 3 years, I'd have to agree that the bucks were more active at night this year.

My 12 year old daughter did harvest a nice little 8 point buck for her first deer. The rest of us do the QDM and didn't see anything worth taking other than one nice deer I missed on the run. My daughter and I had just climbed into the stand and were surprised by a real nice buck that just appeared within a minute of getting in the stand. Wouldn't you know that we were so surprised that my daughter and I clanged our gun stocks together in an attempt to get them up and get a bead on the buck. He heard us and started running. I got off a quick shot but to no avail. It was then within only another 2 minutes that her buck appeared from the other direction and she took him at 35 yards. It was a regular shooting gallery for a brief time!

ccarlson

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10,000 Casts

I hunt on the east side of Lake Ethel on 120 acres of Pine Trees and Oak Stands. This year was the first year that the neighbors didn't leave corn up for hunting and I think that it helped us as the deer are certainly bedding down in our Pine trees now. We took 3 bucks and a couple does, an 8 and 2 5 pointers all with huge bodies, fieldressed at 260, 220 and 200. They were good to get off the land... bad genetics, they were all in full rut and they had made a mess out of many small pine trees with rubs and I counted 20+ scrapes.

When I started hunting this land 5 years ago we would go all bow and Gun season without seeing a buck, I had the buck to doe ratio at 50-1 we started taking a lot of does and we have only taken 2 bucks in the last 5 years not counting this years, my brother shot a 150 class 9 pointer 2 years ago and I shot his offspring, a 130 class 8 pointer last year. Now we are over run with big bodies and small racks.

On another note I think that I was about the only one shooting Sat morn. Gun shots were way down in the area and Josie at Bens said that registration is way down from the last few years and the woman up at Carrs in Ottertail said the same thing. Not much shooting all season after that.

My father in law has 160 acres just off of hwy18 and 35 north of Underwood that I have my eye on for next year, looks like it has major potential for some quality deer. Something abot looking at a row of lakehomes from my stand just doesn't do it for me.

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mnmarlin

I hunt just east of Rush Lake and had one of the better years personally, the guys I hunt with weren't so lucky. Unfortunately I missed two nice bucks neither of which were shot by anybody else in the area so next year could be better. It actually seems to me that with the intensive harvest regulations and longer season that more people are passing up deer. Lots of "should have shot the ones on saw on the opener". I did get a nice fat 8 pointer bow hunting, and I had some nice ones on the trail cam, so I know there were 4-5 bucks in the 240 acres that I hunt at some time. I too was worried about over harvest, but other than a few individuals I am aware of that subsist off of venison (which is fine - as long as you eat it, and this family needs to) I don't think the harvest has increased all that much.

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FishandFowl

I think the deer population is still strong and dont believe that hunters are the reason for fewer deer. I hunt around the Fergus falls area and saw alot of deer this year. Most prior to sun-up driving to my hunting spot I saw two after it got light (I did not harvest a deer this year). Deer are smart animals they know the spots they can go to avoid hunters. Few people are willing to get into those cattail sloughs where walking can be less than an easy time. Add to that a crafty buck can stay put even if a hunters boots land right next to it. I have seen numerous deer jump out of a small patch of low land in the middle of huge grain fields. I do agree that the quality of bucks in the area has diminished where even a few years ago you would usually see a nice buck. To this I think the available food sources are having a greater impact. Where we are it is all row crops(corn/beans) or CRP. No alfalfa or other greens that bucks need for antler growth early in the year or a source of vitamins in winter. I don't know if the nine day season/Managed or intensive harvest zones in that area are a good thing or not. If you eat only wild game through the year than you need 5 deer. For me one is enough. The time spent with family and the experience is what matters most. Just my .02

FnF

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jigguy1

10000 casts, I know your patch of woods exactly, I am one of the lake home owners, my daughters said they heard some close shooting. There are alot of deer in that area, lots of does.

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10,000 Casts

Ya that was me Sat Morning just after 8am. Shot all my deer this year from my enclosed stand up on the hill between the 2 oak stands. Those pine trees have always held deer and now that they are getting bigger, more and more deer were bedding down in them. No big Bucks this year though. A pretty decent 8 and two big bodied small racked 5 pointers.

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BobberTom

The last few years, we have'nt seen as many. Plenty of does and fawns but not as many good shooter bucks. We hunt out by Foxhome.

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HDRIDER02

We hunted the 9th-11th and only saw 1 doe.We hunt near West Turtle on about 65 acres. I personally liked when they had the split seasons.It seemed that things seatled down durning the down time.As far as I can tell the deer numbers are down not only up north but also down in southern minn. where I live. There were alot of partys here that didnt get any deer.I still enjoyed the time with my wife and family. Oh well,maybe next year.

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Gissert

I am curious, where is West Turtle?

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10,000 Casts

I have to say that I like the nine day season and I thought that we were missing out when he had the split weekends. For me its nice to have the option of hunting opener then either wed-thurs or sat-sun or all of it. I think that because of the nine day season, less hunters are in their stands at any same time so the harvest is more spread out... obviously... Thats the reason why for the last 2 years there has been less shooting. Deer, especially shooter bucks are smart as we all know and with less hunters in the woods at any one time, i.e pressure, they can just bed down and avoid mr hunter and his .06.

I think that deer #'s are up and harvested deer #'s are down. Just look at how many deer that are along the highways... and when I scout before the season, they are there. It's also the reason why I took up bow hunting, more deer, more often.

Just my .02

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HDRIDER02

TO GISSERT -WEST TURTLE LAKE is N.W. of BATTLE LAKE. Nice area to hunt,lots of turkeys,not many deer.

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jigguy1

I also think that there are plenty of deer around, my son counted 39 deer he seen on the first Sat. and also Sunday am only. only one buck which was too early to shoot, lots of does with fawns.

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Gissert

HDRIDER -

Cant say I am familiar with West Turtle. I live on South Turtle just west of BL.

Deer movement has picked up the last several days.

CCarlson - I saw a nice one sneaking across the gravel by that feedlot last night a little after 6pm. Nice wide rack with a big body. I was not close enough to get a point count, however.

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Jigging Bob

I hunt south of the foxhome area. This area is in a lottery zone (Finally!!). After talking to many skunked hunters & our group getting skunked also this year I have to wonder why? There used to be alot of deer around this area. Now there is hardly any deer left. Here are a few debates that were going on in the bar after the season closed.

Does a guy blame the DNR for letting this get out of hand or greety hunters? Alot of hunters in the years past were able to get 4-5 tags each. Many of them filled them & now they are wondering why there are no deer left? (nobody needs this much meat). On the other hand how do the hunters know? For all hunters know is maybe there were to many deer beings the DNR was letting hunters get so many tags for the last 2-3 years? Was the DNR thinking about their own pockets during these years? Sell as many tags as possible?

The other debate was short hunting periods. Hunters in this zone have a choice of either hunting only 2 days the first weekend or only 4 days the 2nd weekend. Now besides a few guys that get lucky right away. How many quality mature deer can a hunter take in this short time. Most hunters in the area feel you have to take whatever meat you can, due to not enough hunting days. Here is a example. Hunter A. lets a nice young 4 point buck go by his stand so it can mature & it walks by hunter B's stand & bam he's sausage. I have asked many hunters in the area why they shoot young deer and they say that is exactly the reason. "The other guys are gonna shoot it anyway". Also they feel theres not enough days & they need meat. This goes back to the ol' saying "If its brown its down".

Maybe shooting young deer is ok? Just seems you should let the younger deer have a chance to get older? Thats my thought.

These are just conversations I have heard. Please don't jump all over me personally. These are multiple peoples opinions I just grouped them together and wanted to see other peoples views on these subjects. Please remember everyone is intitled to an opinion so lets here them.

Thanks & good luck out there

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ccarlson

Gissert,

That's probably the same one I missed second weekend! Big body, wide rack but not extra tall. My daughter still shakes her head at that one! I say it was a smart old buck with good bullet evading skills.

ccarlson

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Gissert

That is the deer I was thinking of when I spotted him, but never got a real good look at the headgear. He wasted NO time in crossing that road, and crossed in a spot that really minimized his exposure.

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CabinBoy

10,000 Casts: just to the south of you on Co. Rd. 16 you should have heard a lot of shooting opening weekend. Just to the west of the junction of Co. Rd. #5 and 16 there were 14 bucks taken on a particular piece of propery. This same property produced 11 bucks last year.

This is all fine; if these guys feel the need to only shoot deer with racks, so be it. Spikes to B&C, all the same. But then to register the deer at the local bait shop and inquire about getting rid of the meat because they don't want it? Pathetic!! mad.gif Then why shoot forks and spikes? Just so you can say you shot 14 bucks instead of ie..6 bucks and 8 does? Evidentially we've got some "true" sportsman roaming the woods of OT County that couldn't care less if there venison is left in the road ditch or fed to the coyotes.......but we shot 14 bucks!! blush.gif Hope you're proud.....

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