Guests - If You want access to member only forums on FM. You will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up on Fishing Minnesota.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.

  • Announcements

    • Rick

      Members Only Fluid Forum View   08/08/2017

      Fluid forum view allows members only to get right to the meat of this community; the topics. You can toggle between your preferred forum view just below to the left on the main forum entrance. You will see three icons. Try them out and see what you prefer.   Fluid view allows you, if you are a signed up member, to see the newest topic posts in either all forums (select none or all) or in just your favorite forums (select the ones you want to see when you come to Fishing Minnesota). It keeps and in real time with respect to Topic posts and lets YOU SELECT YOUR FAVORITE FORUMS. It can make things fun and easy. This is especially true for less experienced visitors raised on social media. If you, as a members want more specific topics, you can even select a single forum to view. Let us take a look at fluid view in action. We will then break it down and explain how it works in more detail.   The video shows the topic list and the forum filter box. As you can see, it is easy to change the topic list by changing the selected forums. This view replaces the traditional list of categories and forums.   Of course, members only can change the view to better suit your way of browsing.   You will notice a “grid” option. We have moved the grid forum theme setting into the main forum settings. This makes it an option for members only to choose. This screenshot also shows the removal of the forum breadcrumb in fluid view mode. Fluid view remembers your last forum selection so you don’t lose your place when you go back to the listing. The benefit of this feature is easy to see. It removes a potential barrier of entry for members only. It puts the spotlight on topics themselves, and not the hierarchical forum structure. You as a member will enjoy viewing many forums at once and switching between them without leaving the page. We hope that fluid view, the new functionality is an asset that you enjoy .
Sign in to follow this  
johncolson

Ice Fishing

Recommended Posts

johncolson

Since I just purchased a home on Hunters Point in November, I plan on doing a lot of ice fishing on Mille Lacs this year. I have not ice fished for over 30 years and have no equipment or tackle.

I am going to the ice fishing show this weekend and was hoping for some advice on what to be looking for. Specifically:

What kind of lures should I get?

What kind of ice fishing rods and reels?

What kind of tip ups?

What kind of auger?

What kind of depth finder, flasher, etc?

What kind of underwater camera (to be used in summers also)?

Whats the best ice fishing cold weather clothing to get?

Whats the best portable 1,2,3,4 man ice house to get?

Is a 4 wheeler better than snowmobiles to pull ice fishing equipment on mille lacs or vice versa?

Whats the best portable heater to use?

Thanks for all your help,

John Olson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

John,

You are going to get a ton of info. at the ice fishing show.

First thing to consider is, as far as a house goes is how many people are going to be with you. If it's only yourself, you can go with the two man portables, like the Team Otter line, or the Clam's. They are a breeze to set up and take down by yourself, especially if you do alot of moving around. The Mr. Heaters work well.

As far as an auger goes, it's a personal choice. Jiffy's are excellent, so are some of the Strike Masters. I would get a 9" or 10". Works nice when your'e using tip ups outside and the holes start freezing during the day.

The old Arctic Tipups work well. Alot of items to check out at the show.

Shimano reels work nice for Eyes. Thorne Bros (contact Pat or Josh) has a ton of rods that work well!!!

Lures are endless. Start by purchasing the small glow jigs. Jigging raps.

Have fun and post what you ended up purchasing. grin.gifgrin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GoggleEye

Where is the ice fishing show this weekend??? Secondly, hunter's point is a great area for early ice walleyes. We have done real well on some large fish in that area. Here are my suggestions for equipment to purchase:

Tip-ups- hands down, the beaver dam arctic fisherman is the best you can buy

Auger- I have had good luck with my strikemaster, it is also much lighter than the jiffy's

Poles- Thorne bros and st.croix rods are my favs

Reels- Any good quality spinning reels will do...shimano, quantum, pflueger, mitchell, etc.

Shanty- depends on if you are a solo fisherman or like to fish with friends. If more than one person, the quick flip over styles made by clam, otter, or frabill are nice. If by yourself, the quick flip solos are good and the speedshack two mans are nice also. In general, you can't go wrong with a clam, Frabill, or otter brand portable shanty.

Heaters- Mr. Heater is a good heater as are the cabelas brands

Jigs and lures- Jiggin raps, all kinds of spoons, buckshot rattlespoons, swedish pimples, airplane jigs, teardrop jigs, moon jigs, ratsos, zip lures, there are so many to list

Get yourself some good quality fluorocarbon line for leaders on your tip-ups also. I like to use 6 or 8 pound test for walleyes. Sometimes even four if fish are finicky. Line your tip-ups with braided dacron, 20-35 pound test is more than sufficient.

Line your panfish poles with 2 or 4 pound monofilament or flourocarbon. The perch are plump and can keep you occupied when the walleyes have lockjaw. Have fun and good luck!

GoggleEye wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

St. Paul River Centre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TrophyEyes

Rodmaker, always nice to see you posting. I am back in the game. The little guy is finally sleeping through the night. I want to second what has already been said for Mille lacs and anywhere in MN.

Auger- I have had good luck with my strikemaster as well, but I have to say the Jiffy cuts through better.

Poles- Thorne bros and st.croix rods are my favs. Well said.

Reels- I actually just outfitted my rods with some of the Guide Series reals which are made by pflueger. They are much cheaper money wise.

Shanty- Clam!

Heaters- Mr. Heater is a good heater as are the cabelas brands

Jigs and lures- Jiggin raps, all kinds of spoons, buckshot rattlespoons, swedish pimples, teardrop jigs, AS LONG AS THEY ARE GREEN OR ORANGE.

I like mono much better than fireline or florocarbon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MuleShack

Quote:

Jigs and lures- Jiggin raps, all kinds of spoons, buckshot rattlespoons, swedish pimples, teardrop jigs, AS LONG AS THEY ARE GREEN OR ORANGE.

I


Gold and GLOW have their days up there too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PieEyed

I'm just going to comment on the house and auger because you're getting plenty of other info and I feel these are the two most important parts of your set up. I guess locators are important too but any of the major brands do a fine job.

I've fished out of Frabil, Clam, Eskimo and Otter. I'd have to recommend the Otter hands down. They are more durable than any other brand. The only other house that compares to the Otter is the new Clam and that weighs a ton and half. The zippers on the Otter work great even if they're coated in ice and it's 20 below. The canvas is thicker than most and very warm. The poles are heavy duty and will not bend or sway when you get severe wind. Also the sled the house is attached to is better quality than all the others. If you can wreck the sled they'll give you a new one. There's not a better deal out there. I fish with a lot of other guys that have other brands and when it gets cold almost all of them are complaining about something. I fish way too much to put up with mediocre equipment.

If you’re going to pull it behind an ATV or snowmobile early in the year, I’d recommend getting the fish house cover and hitch as well.

As for the auger strikemasters have been great for me. They cut fast and they’re quite. If you do get a Jiffy at least everyone on the lake will know when you’re drilling a hole. Heck maybe even your neighbors will hear you in their living room shocked.gif man those things are loud!

You should have great fishing over that way. Living on Mille Lacs, wow, I'm sure I'm not the only one on here that's jealous. Good Luck this year!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paul Waldowski

John,

Swing in anytime and I can give you a hands on demo of a lot of this stuff smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johncolson

You guys are incredible. Paul, I will take you up on your offer. Does everyone agree with Rodmaker that I should be looking for a 9" or 10" auger blade.

Sincerely, thanks to you all.

Once I get some experience I hope to be participating in the output of info on this board also.

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

You beat me to it!!. I was going to send an e-mail and see how things are going.

It would be nice to get together and head up for a day/eve.

I have a Clam 6800 nice for two with alot of extra room. It would be nice to purchase one of the Team Otter or Clam two man portables with the sled.

I've had good luck with my StrikeMaster (it's 10 yrs old). If weight isn't an issue for some, I think I would purchase a Jiffy next time.

You can't go wrong with the Thorne Bros rods - for Eyes and Perch. Call me old fashioned, but I use mono on my reels.

On tip ups I use the old braided line (camo color) and then tie up a 3ft mono leader.

You are right on with the green/orange. I also like the black glow jigs, and the orange/black glow jigs as well.

If you still have my e-mail give a shout in the next day or so.

Take Care!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MuleShack

Quote:

Call me old fashioned, but I use mono on my reels.


Last year at the ice fishing show i asked one of the seminar guys about line...I think it was Tackle Terry Tuma but cant remember. He says mono for ice fishing and floro for summer fishing.

Sure would be nice to live up there on the lake. I'm heading up this weekend to try to find me a "fish"house instead. It will have to do...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

If your'e not going to be using tip ups outside, you may be able to get by with a 9". It's just nice to have a 10" hole, makes it a little easier to get the heads turned into the hole on the bigger Eyes.

It comes down to your preference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GoggleEye

I use a 8.25 inch strikemaster and have never had any problems with getting big walleyes and pike to come through the hole, it's all about patience and working the fish with ease. If I had a choice though, ten inch would be my preference when I have a large specimen tugging on the other end of the line!! I just didn't have the money for a ten inch auger when I bought mine, plus the lightweight 8.25 is nice when I punch 200 holes a day looking for the eyes or perch. Some days, they just aren't there and I would hate to have a ten inch to carry around punching that many holes. It's all about your preferences and style of fishing. My 8.25 will be back on the ice this year again and I will be bringing some large fish through those holes with no problem! Good luck on your purchases!!

GoggleEye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GoggleEye

Oh ya, I forgot. I only use fluoro as my leader line. I always spool my reels with braided or mono. My tip-ups are always spooled with braided dacron (black or some other dark color so I can see it on the ice, makes for easier untangling when you lay it out on the ice and snow) and I use flourocarbon leaders with all my tip-ups, unless fishing big pike. Just a few suggestions. grin.gif

GoggleEye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

I bought my Strike master (laser mag)around 10 years ago. 3.0 or 3.5 hp. (can't remember It was a close out 10". I got it for $20 more than an 8" at Gander Mountain. Too good to pass up at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

At least I know that I'm using the right line on the tip ups. Shoot me an e-mail sometime.

mpothen@intricon.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dances with Walleye

Last year I actually spent some time with an 8 a 10 and a 12 inch hole on various occasions...

Personally... I'm good with 8...

Problem being... A 10" auger is going to cost more...

Plus a small footed adult can step into a 10 inch hole on the ice... And the bigger the hole, it seems the more magnetic pull it has for sucking items you'd like to keep, down it.

12 inch sucks... Heavy giant thing that you have to lug around and work with all day... And it makes too big of a hole for some shanty floors. And I don't want a floor lip catching a fish as I bring it up, to bash it off...

AND some insulated Tip-up covers barely hold on a 12 inch hole.

Last year I pulled a 27.5, a 26, and a 25 inch Walleye up an 8 inch hole through 20 inches of ice, in a 2 hour period, on a poorly wound rattle reel, and didn't have any problems orienting or handling the fish.

If you want to make up for any concerns with fish handling... I'd reccomend getting an armored musky glove, and just thumb the wallleye like a bass.

It will save you 5 pounds of lugging weight and $100 in the checkbook, to go with an 8 over a 10.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

Like I mentioned earlier the 10" was only $20 more. You are right about the extra weight and the "magnet" for things to go down the hole with. Especially inside a house.

At the time I purchased the auger I didn't have a house, and most of my fishing was done with tip ups.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JDR724

I'm going out this weekend to purchase my first ATV/Snowmobile for ice fishing and like to hear peoples pros and cons for ATV vs. snowmobile?

I'm usually by myself, moving around pulling a Clam Pro.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PieEyed

I'd have to say, with or without snow I'd recommend a snowmobile with studs. Every year I hear of about a dozen ATV's going in on breakers. If you're pulling a clam or an Otter type fish house with a snowmobile you can cross open water if need be. I'd also recommend mounting an H20 or larger LCD graph with the lake map chip in it. That way you can stay on a safe trail even if the visibility becomes poor. When you fish a lake like Mille Lacs those cracks can open up at anytime and even if you had a safe trail an hour ago it could have 18” wide crack now. That’s why I’d never be on a wheeler on Mille Lacs unless I could follow someone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

I can't help on this one. I would send an e-mail to Paul at Appeldoorns. He can tell or offer you opinions on which way would be best for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cowdy

I have been using an ATV pulling a medium otter for the past three years. It's worked out GREAT!! Everything I need in right there with me. However, there hasn't been much snow the past few years either. Last spring when we got all that slushy snow on the pond, it was hard to get around.

With that said, I think a snowmobile would be your best bet in order to get through any deep snow you may need to go through. I plan on getting the tracks for my ATV next year which should certainly help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
minnesotatuff

i also prefer the 8". i have a 10"-3hp strikemaster and a 8"-2hp strikemaster. the 10" was my first...it was heavier but that was tollerable being i hadnt used a 8"-2hp. however, after losing a gps & other valuables, stepping in the holes, and missing a number of walleyes because they can wiggle and turn in a larger hole, i got the 8"...now its all i use. if i ever go for laketrout up in the boundary waters, i will use the 10", but thats the only instance i would use it.

i fish from a frabil 2 person, mostly by myself. everyone chooses their shelter for their needs. i wanted a somewhat lightweight one that is well built and strong for windy days. i can actually stand up in it and im 6'2". i drill two holes for jigging. one is for the fl-8 and the other for fishing from. i try to make them about an inch apart or closer, just far apart enough so the time fishing there does not connect the two holes. that iliminates the problem of fish tangling around the transducer. i drill another hole as far away from my jigging hole as i can get in the shelter for my dead stick. finally, i drill one hole just outside the house in line with both fishing holes, maybe 3 or 4 feet away from my jigging hole. thats the one i put my camera in. from there i have site of my jig and dead stick minnow. wow, the stories i could tell about that! its what really makes icefishing special.

i am tempted to go up saturday but im also thinking about other possibilities like osakis or a small lake down around new prague. crappies are a big attraction for me for icefishing. the problem with crappies and mille lacs is that it takes a good walk... unfortunately i really have to limit how far i can walk and have to wait until i can drive my truck on the ice.

its amazing how much difference a week makes...hope the shop gets the new kicker mounted & new wave gaurds before the snow this weekend. i'ld sure like to get it home before salt is on the roads... next fall i will be prepaired to get after those big piggies as long as i can get the boat on the lake.

regards,

minnesotatuff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BigD

Quote:

I use a 8.25 inch strikemaster and have never had any problems with getting big walleyes and pike to come through the hole, it's all about patience and working the fish with ease. If I had a choice though, ten inch would be my preference when I have a large specimen tugging on the other end of the line!! I just didn't have the money for a ten inch auger when I bought mine, plus the lightweight 8.25 is nice when I punch 200 holes a day looking for the eyes or perch. Some days, they just aren't there and I would hate to have a ten inch to carry around punching that many holes. It's all about your preferences and style of fishing. My 8.25 will be back on the ice this year again and I will be bringing some large fish through those holes with no problem! Good luck on your purchases!!

GoggleEye


200 holes? shocked.gif that's insane. You must be built like a brick [word removed by admin}. I don't care how light that auger is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rodmaker

Good point about some of the ice houses. With some of them, you can't stand up all the way. My next auger will be a 9".

Good idea with the hole outside the house for the camera

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  



  • Posts

    • eyeguy 54
    • Hoey
      I have not heard any reasons for the purported relocation.  Just thinking out loud here - Walker Bay has not had enough ice in many of the past years, so they have to hold the event on shore and not on the lake.  There is limited space for a shore event there.  Maybe Bemidji makes more ice and/or they have more on-shore accommodations.  Walker itself is more of a tourist and family town and the Pout Fest is not that.  
    • Rick
      Hunters are reminded to register deer before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  “Deer registration provides information that is essential to our ability to manage deer populations,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Hunters are required to register deer and it’s a fairly simple process.” Hunters register deer with a phone call, online or in person. Before registering a deer, hunters must validate their site tag. The validated tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation. Phone registration
      Register deer via phone by calling 888-706-6367. Directions are printed on each deer hunting license. Have a pen or permanent marker ready. A confirmation number will be given; it must be written on the license and site tag. Internet registration
      Register deer via internet at mndnr.gov/gameregistration. Directions will be similar to phone registration, and a confirmation number must be written on the license and site tag. In-person registration
      When phone or internet registration is not possible, hunters must take their deer to a big-game registration station. The person whose name appears on the license must be present at the registration station with their deer. They will receive a big-game possession tag that must be attached to the hind leg, ear or antler where the site tag was attached. A list of all stations organized by city and county is available at any DNR wildlife office or at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. During registration, the hunter must use the permit area number where the deer was harvested; using the wrong deer permit area for registration is illegal. Registration instructions for all methods are available at mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • BrianF
      Hi Jim, the problem with channels on Tonka is not only the current, which keeps the ice thin all winter, but also due to the effects of road salt/chemicals.  Many of the channels have bridges over them which receive a lot of automobile traffic.  In the winter, road salt/chemicals are pour on the roads during adverse weather conditions.  Cars and especially snow plows cause the salt/chemicals to splash over the guard rails and onto the ice.  When you see new reports of cars going thru the ice on channels, it's usually right under a road overpass, for this reason.  Because of the road salts, channels are just a super dangerous place to be, even during our coldest winters.  
    • Hookmaster
      I'm pretty sure there is still a winter only access on Smith's bay just north of where hiway 51 intersects hiway 15 at the lake.  It's just before the North Shore Marina. You'd have to trailer to there but then you'd have the main lake to fish.
    • Rick
      Pheasants banded in Nobles and Redwood counties Pheasant hunters can voluntarily report roosters that were banded as part of a study being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  DNR Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group workers captured and banded roosters during a research project. The two study areas involved in the project are the Lamberton Wildlife Management Area complex in Redwood County and the Worthington Wells Project Area south of Worthington, located in Nobles County. Although the study is focused on hen pheasants and their broods, roosters were also opportunistically captured in an attempt to collect survival information on males. A plain metal leg band with a unique identifying number was placed on the right leg of each rooster. Hunters are asked to contact the Farmland Wildlife Research Group to report harvest information. The band number, date of harvest, and location information (WMA name or GPS coordinates preferred) are requested. If hunters want information on when and where the bird was initially captured, they may also provide their contact information so that researchers can return their call. GPS locations and personal data will not be made public. Although Minnesota has a rooster-only hunting season, hunters who come across a dead radio-collared and/or banded hen are also asked to call with information so that researchers can refine their hen data. To voluntarily report birds marked as part of this study, contact Lindsey Messinger, 507-642-8478, ext. 224. Alternatively, people may contact Lindsey by email at Lindsey.Messinger@state.mn.us. This work is funded in part through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. Additional details about pheasant hunting are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • Rick
      The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Michigan and Wisconsin natural resources departments, will take questions about the Lake States Forest Bat Habitat Conservation Plan at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 31. The phone conference is for anyone interested in the integration of forest practices with conservation measures to support bat populations.  Forest bat populations are rapidly declining, and one or more species may soon be reclassified as endangered. If reclassified, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides the opportunity to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). An HCP helps endangered species recover by setting out habitat conservation plans during land management activities. In preparation, Minnesota and neighboring states are developing a forest bat HCP that aims to maintain bat habitat and allow important forest management activities to continue. Input from forest land owners, forest managers, conservation groups and other stakeholders is essential to developing an effective HCP. An introductory video describing the HCP process and how to participate is available at https://youtu.be/46IAHTaqJQE. The DNR encourages participants to watch the video prior to the Oct. 31 question and answer session. To access the session, in the ten minutes prior to the call start time, participants should dial 855-802-6790 toll-free and, at the prompt, enter the conference ID code 93441291. Anyone requiring an accommodation to participate in the phone conference is asked to email bathcp.dnr@state.mn.us or call 651-259-5919 as early as possible. More information is available at mndnr.gov/bathcp.   Contact: Lindsey Messinger, wildlife research biologist, 507-642-8478, ext. 224.   Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • Rick
      A video about how to get deer tested for chronic wasting disease is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at mndnr.gov/cwd.  “Getting a deer tested for CWD only takes a few minutes and the video takes hunters through steps that make the process go smoothly, such as positioning their deer so the head is easily accessed in the vehicle,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. Testing will be required in portions of north-central, central and southeast Minnesota during the opening weekend of firearms deer season. “We want to thank hunters for cooperating during this sampling process,” Cornicelli said. Precautionary testing from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, to Sunday, Nov. 5, will determine whether chronic wasting disease may have spread from captive deer to wild deer in central and north central Minnesota. Central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 218, 219, 229, 277, 283 and 285. North central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 155, 171, 172, 242, 246, 247, 248 and 249. Testing in north central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. Test results will determine whether CWD may have potentially been passed from these captive deer to wild deer. Deer harvested in southeast Minnesota’s permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349 also are subject to mandatory testing on Nov. 4-5 because they are adjacent to permit area 603, the only area of Minnesota currently known to have CWD-infected wild deer. All hunters in affected deer permit areas will be required to have their harvested deer tested Nov. 4-5. After field dressing their deer, hunters must take them to a sampling station. DNR staff will remove lymph nodes, which will be submitted for laboratory testing. Hunters must register their deer by phone, internet or in person at any big game registration station. Harvest registration will not be available at CWD sampling stations. For sampling to accurately detect whether CWD exists in wild deer, the DNR needs hunters’ help to collect 3,600 samples in the north central area, 1,800 in the central area and 1,800 in the southeast. Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for disease is a proven strategy that allows DNR to manage CWD by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were initiated in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2011 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread. Hunters not in a mandatory testing area can collect their own lymph node sample and submit it for testing to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota for a fee. A video showing how to collect a lymph node sample and a link to the lab’s website are at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck. Complete information about mandatory CWD testing, sampling station locations and a related precautionary feeding ban, which includes salt and mineral licks in all areas and attractants such as estrus urine in southeastern Minnesota, are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • Rick
      State wildlife chief addresses upcoming season and future challenges By Paul Telander, DNR wildlife chief When Minnesota’s deer season ends Sunday, Dec. 31, it is quite likely the harvest will be in the 200,000 range.  This Minnesota Department of Natural Resources projection is above last year’s harvest of 173,213, below the 2003 record harvest of 290,525 and similar to the most recent 20-year average of 205,959. Prior to 2000, deer harvests in excess of 200,000 occurred only four times. Deer harvest totals typically relate to the size of the deer population and to a lesser degree to weather conditions immediately before and during the hunting season. On the 2017 season
      This should be a good deer season barring any unforeseen unusual weather. Deer numbers are up following three years of conservative harvest regulations designed to rebuild the population, coupled with three relatively mild winters. As a result, more antlerless permits are available this year, and hunters in many parts of the state will have additional opportunities to harvest more deer because of other more liberal season framework changes. Unfavorable weather, like heavy snowfall immediately before or during the hunting season, is the main factor that would prevent a harvest increase. On putting 2017 in context
      The highest deer harvests occurred during the early to mid-1990s and from 2000-2008. During this latter period, the harvest topped 200,000 each year. The high harvests in the early 2000s occurred at a time when the over-riding harvest strategy was to reduce the deer population so it wouldn’t grow out of control, as had happened in certain eastern states, and to address certain environmental, economic and social concerns. Deer harvests in excess of 225,000 occurred only once in the 1990s. Going further back, the harvests in the 1970s never topped 100,000. The harvests in the 1980s were under 150,000. Today, there’s growing discussion in the hunting community as to what’s a reasonable harvest target, and that’s a good conversation to have. On managing toward population goals
      Our aim is to keep deer numbers at population goals identified during DNR’s periodically occurring public goal-setting processes. There are 130 different deer permit areas throughout the state, and nearly all permit areas have a numeric population goal range. Population goals range from as low as a handful of deer per square mile in intensively farmed areas to 20 to 25 deer per square mile in prime forested areas. A few permit areas are too small or have too low of a harvest to model the local population. Deer numbers are at or have exceeded population goals over most of the state. Some northeast and southwest permit areas are slightly below goal. Parts of central Minnesota and southeastern Minnesota are above goal. From an overall, statewide perspective, we’re not far from where we believe Minnesota should be. On DNR transparency
      Many hunters are curious as to how we make our decisions on antlerless permit numbers and season structure, and that’s something we are trying to more effectively communicate. The process starts immediately after the deer season closes. That’s when area wildlife supervisors and staff monitor deer harvest results in their local areas and collect informal feedback from hunters, conservation officers, foresters and others. In spring, after winter severity has been monitored and deer mortality losses have been estimated, research staff run population models for each permit area based on the last year’s harvest, winter mortality, anticipated fawn births, predation and other data. These calculations are the basis of research staff recommendations for season permit area designations (lottery, managed, intensive harvest, etc.) and the number of antlerless permits that should be made available to hunters in each lottery permit area in order to achieve population goals. Research staff recommendations are sent to all area wildlife supervisors, who then have the option of agreeing with them or modifying them based on their own local observations and informal input. Often, these recommendations agree with each other, but not always. When this happens, differences get resolved at the regional or St. Paul office level. Ultimately, the agreed upon season structures and number of permits to be issued for each area are communicated to hunters through the multi-colored deer map that is part of the hunting regulations booklet and a new, more informative interactive deer map on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deermap. On managing expectations
      That’s perhaps the hardest part of deer management, and it’s often a function of scope and scale. Our agency’s focus is on the big picture and a half million hunters. Conversely, the individual hunter is most interested in what’s happening within their immediate hunting area, which is often as little as 40 acres. It’s not well-known but among 13 Midwestern states, only Missouri manages deer populations at a finer spatial scale than Minnesota. We are serious about managing expectations and deer numbers in small geographic areas. Still, it is common to have a wide variety of opinions in each area on whether there should be more, fewer or different sized deer. To that point, we recently conducted a hunter satisfaction survey and one of the findings is that today’s hunters have higher expectations than those who hunted just 10 years ago. On communicating with hunters
      When I began my career it was common to interact with hunters at deer registration stations and local field offices. Today with the ease, convenience and popularity of phone and internet game registration, the DNR no longer has staff at deer registration stations. And people don’t visit DNR offices like they once did because so much information is available on the DNR website. Our challenge is finding new and efficient ways to have two-way conversations with hunters. This past winter we received more than 1,400 comments during a three-month long deer management plan public input effort. We were pleased with the response yet those 1,400 comments from an engaged and important audience represent only a minute fraction of the hunting public. There’s an irony in the fact that even though it is easier to be connected to one another these days because of smartphones and other technology, many people feel less connected than they once did. Figuring out how to maintain strong relations with hunters and other stakeholders is something on which we need to keep working. Minnesota’s first-ever deer plan will outline key concepts and crucial, ongoing work needed to manage deer, one of the state’s most popular and economically vibrant natural resources. An important aspect of the plan is how DNR will reach out and communicate deer management needs, necessary actions and reasons for those actions. A draft plan will be available in early 2018. I encourage everyone to read the draft plan, consider DNR’s suggested approach and give us your feedback and ideas through the public input opportunities we’ll make available. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • Rick
      Hunters looking forward to higher deer numbers this season Hunters will have additional opportunities to harvest deer this season thanks to a series of mild winters and conservative hunting regulations, which have resulted in rebounding deer populations across Minnesota.  Firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 4, and there are 130 permit areas in 2017. Information about each permit area can be found on the DNR’s interactive deer map at mndnr.gov/deermap, and includes wildlife manager reports, regulations, and statistics about deer harvest and populations on a local scale. Northwest deer report
      John Williams, northwest region wildlife manager More deer on the landscape in the northwest region should help hunters better enjoy the season and have good prospects for a successful hunt. Another mild winter on top of the previous two mild winters has largely enabled deer populations to be at or near goal levels in most permit areas. Fawn production was also good this year; another indication of does coming through the winter in good health. Recent rains have filled basins that were previously dry due to drought-like conditions in late summer, and water levels are up on many of the marshes and lakes in the region. Hunters should be prepared to deal with wetter than average conditions if they are hunting in or need to cross lowland areas. In general, hunters will be able to harvest more deer. In several permit areas the designations changed to allow more overall harvest. Some permit areas moved from a designation of lottery, which requires hunters to apply in advance to shoot an antlerless deer, to a hunters choice designation that allows a hunter to use one license to shoot either a buck or antlerless deer. Other permit areas changed designations from hunters choice to managed. In permit areas designated as managed, hunters can harvest two deer through use of a regular license and a bonus antlerless permit. Permit areas that did stay in the lottery designation this year may have more permits available than in previous years. Northeast deer report
      Dave Olfelt, northeast region wildlife manager Three consecutive, relatively mild winters have contributed to good fawn production and high numbers of twin births. Snow depth was moderate throughout much of the region and a relatively early green-up of forage has supported deer that appear to be in excellent physical condition. Where good habitat exists, deer populations are approaching or are at established population goals. While deer are not evenly distributed within permit areas because of habitat differences and varying levels of hunting pressure, harvest regulations have relaxed in many northern Minnesota permit areas to allow more deer harvest. Duluth, several Iron Range cities and some state parks continue to hold special hunts to reduce deer numbers. Rain and wet conditions have persisted throughout much of the fall season. Hunters may find water in areas that are typically dry this time of year and forest road access may be difficult or impassable in some locations. Hunters in far northeastern Minnesota’s primary moose range should review the new deer permit area maps for boundary and numbering changes. Central deer report
      Jami Markle, assistant central region wildlife manager “Deer are everywhere” is a common refrain across the central region this fall. Deer populations seem to have bounced back from a decline following the severe winter of 2013-2014. In fact, many deer permit areas in the region have met or are above population goals, meaning more permits will be available this fall. With rebounding deer populations and ample hunter opportunities, wildlife managers are anticipating a strong harvest in 2017. Deer look healthy as they shed their reddish summer coats for the more muted gray-brown tones that will carry them through the winter. Summer habitat conditions were ideal with an excellent growing season and plentiful native forage and cover. Does with twin fawns seem to be the norm rather than the exception this year. Wildlife managers and landowners have noted an abundant acorn crop in the central and southeast portion of the region this fall which will keep deer feeding and browsing in the oak woods. Wet conditions in late September and early October have postponed agricultural harvest so hunters may see standing crops well into the firearms season. Fall leaf drop is reported to be later than normal in the southern part of the state, but by early November sightlines should be opened up and the forest floor will have a new layer of fallen leaves. Buck scrapes and rubs are starting to appear and hunters can expect to see deer movement and patterns change as the rut approaches. Many permit areas in the central region are designated as managed this year, allowing harvest of two deer through the use of a regular license and a bonus antlerless permit. Five permit areas are designated as intensive, which allows for harvest of three deer using additional bonus permits. There are additional harvest opportunities in the 601 metro deer management area and the 603 chronic wasting disease management zone, both of which offer harvest of an unlimited number of antlerless deer. Southwest deer report 
      David Trauba, southwest region wildlife manager Two consecutive mild winters coupled with past conservative harvest strategies have allowed deer numbers to increase throughout southwestern Minnesota. In addition, wildlife managers reported good fawn production. As a result, more antlerless permits were provided for this fall’s hunting season. However, permits numbers continue to be low in select permit areas, mostly in extreme southwest, due to the loss of Conservation Reserve Program acres. Managers in these permit areas are having a difficult time increasing deer numbers due to limited habitat availability. Conversely, hunters need to be aware that permit areas 281 and 290 moved to a hunters choice designation for the first time due to an abundance of deer along the Minnesota River corridor. Two wild cards for hunters will be the amount of standing crops and river flooding. Historically the amount of standing crops drives opening weekend hunter harvest along with weather conditions. Large rainfall amounts in mid-October have resulted in flooded fields and river flooding. Crop harvest is behind schedule but this can change very quickly so it is too early to predict what amount of crops will be in the field, if any, before opening day. However, hunters should prepare for high water in select river corridors; the high water can influence deer use of these habitats. Many deer have been forced out of the river valleys into the surrounding uplands. As always, hunters need to scout and adapt to conditions. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.