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Mr.Seaguar

Next Years Plan

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Mr.Seaguar

Just so my wife has something to be mad about, I have already begun planning my deer hunts for next year. I am planning on hunting deer in MN for the first time and I have a couple questions. Are the deer noticeably larger at the northern border of the state vs the southern border? If you go 400 miles south from the southern border, the deer are smaller, so I figure the reverse might be true. I plan to hunt public, is it possible to find uncrowded public ground in the central part of the state? You want a few folks around to stir them up but I don't want to be able to see multiple people during a sit. Thanks

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monstermoose78

The biggest body deer tend to come from up north, but deer numbers are very low. Wolve numbers are very high up there. Public land is everywhere up north, but the deer are hard to find. 

Central Minnesota has lots of deer and not as much public land. You can still break the 200 pound mark, but you will  see people. Remember they will push the deer around for you.

Southern Minnesota has big racked bucks but gets more people hunting. Look into special hunts in state parks as this limits the number of people who can hunt there. 

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Blindsniper

MN is one of the hardest hunted states in the midwest for whitetails.  Unless you go remote, you'll have plenty of company.  But the whitetails are thriving in most locations.  If you want BIG bodied deer, you have to hunt a location where they have a chance to reach maturity.  In my mind, at least 4 1/2 years old, ideally 5 1/2 or more before they become a target.  I live in the south central part of the state and I can assure you, this isn't an area anyone would target for mature deer.  We have decent numbers of deer and can/do kick out some big bucks.  But mature bucks are somewhat of a rare occurrence compared to other parts of the state.  The SE corner of the state probably has the highest concentration of mature bucks anywhere, but public land is limited and is hunted hard.  The SW part of the state has much lower deer populations are isn't a destination location, generally speaking.  The fringe section that generally separates the forrest land from the agricultural land in central MN has good numbers, has public lands available but is also hunted hard.  The northern section is very diverse in it's populations and pressure.  You can find all kinds of public land to hunt, but it's also the hardest to hunt on average.  

 

This past fall I harvested a 7 1/2 year old buck and he weighed right about 300 pounds live weight.  The butcher said that was the biggest bodied deer he had seen come through his shop in years.  My area in southern MN has a blend of three different subspecies of deer.  The midwestern, the North Eastern and the Dakotas/Northwestern subspecies.  In my location, I believe I have more of the midwestern genetics.  However if you go an 45 minutes to an hour east of me, they have more of the NE genetics.  At the same time, the further you go north and west of me you'll find yourself more in the Dakotas/NW subspecies.   Generally speaking, the midwest is the smallest bodied, followed by the Dak/NW and the finally the NE.  There is absolutely cross breeding that happens and there is no visual way to tell one subspecies from another.  But this is why the further east and north you go you generally have a better chance of finding the biggest bodied deer with typically the biggest antlers.  The record books bears this out quite plainly.  

 

All this said, if you can hunt with a bow you'll have much more room to roam and can apply for several special hunts in strategic areas that have big deer.  With gun or muzzleloader you'll be squeezed by the orange army in most locations unless you become friends with someone with private lands to hunt.          

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ANYFISH2
10 hours ago, Mr.Seaguar said:

Just so my wife has something to be mad about, I have already begun planning my deer hunts for next year. I am planning on hunting deer in MN for the first time and I have a couple questions. Are the deer noticeably larger at the northern border of the state vs the southern border? 

Typically, this is the case.  200lb dressed deer can be found statewide, although not particularly common.  4-5 year old deer are a challenge to find.

10 hours ago, Mr.Seaguar said:

 I plan to hunt public, is it possible to find uncrowded public ground in the central part of the state? You want a few folks around to stir them up but I don't want to be able to see multiple people during a sit. Thanks

Really depends on your season of choice.  During archery archery season, you can have large areas of public all to yourself for the whole early season.  In the central/north-central region.  There are some areas that hold "more" mature animals, however, most of this land is pounded by firearms hunters, with high harvest each year, so age structure is very low.  Mature deer still exist, just alot smarter and difficult to find.

Muzzleloader season again allows you to have more space to yourself.  But these deer have been pressured hard from rifle season.  Finding new cuttings in deep forest, near confiers, and brushy swamps will hold good deer during muzzy season.

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Mr.Seaguar

Rifle season is my plan. The dates of MN rifle season fit right into my schedule. 

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ANYFISH2

During rifle season you will find much of the public land, to have many hunters opening weekend and 2nd weekend in central Minnesota( zone 2).  During the week many hunters go home to work and pressure is much less.

Most state forest and county land allow you to leave your stand in trees overnight. 

Most hunters return to the same place each year.  When you find an area you want to hunt, I would suggest coming up to the spot on Friday and check to see if other camps are hunting the area.  A quick conversation on Friday will help avoid any conflicts and may help you to refine you stand location.  Most public land hunters are helpful to new comers, if they ask for help and are repectfull.  This has been my experience of being a public land hunter.

WMA's in central MN require you to put up and take down stands daily.  Usually a little more human movement day to day because of this.  Key here maybe to get there real early and work to the interior of the unit and find good escape cover.  Go where others dont want to work as hard to get to.

Hunt all day, if possible.  There is great mid day movement due to being in the rut and forced movement by hunters go to and from camps or vehicals.

I live in Morrison county, and hunt Morrison, Todd, and Cass county.  The public I hunt during rifle season is in Cass county. 

If you have any questions about these area let me know, I will help the best I can.

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Mr.Seaguar

Thanks for the reply. How far north do I need to go to find lighter hunting pressure? Thanks

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ANYFISH2
1 hour ago, Mr.Seaguar said:

Thanks for the reply. How far north do I need to go to find lighter hunting pressure? Thanks

What do you define as lighter pressure?

 

If you like big woods, north central(Northern Cass and North) and northeastern Mn have less hunters per sq mile generally.  As you move north and east deer numbers drop as well.  Although the percentage of mature deer seems to increase some as well.  So that may be a plus, if your willing to spend the time in the tree.

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ANYFISH2

Another thought is you may want look into applying for a special firearms hunt.  Some parks and Scientific and Natural Areas hold hunts during the firearms season. 

These are lottery draw hunts, so people are limited,  and deer un-hunted prior to season.

Not sure how difficult of draws these are, but something to think about.  You can find a list of hunts on the MN DNR site.

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monstermoose78

North of Duluth but as anyfish said there is deer. That is where I hunt and the week I spent in the woods I seen zero deer. My dad got a deer on the eighth day. The bwca has some giants but it’s a bugger to get in and out because things are freezing at that time of year.

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monstermoose78

Split rock state park, gooseberry state park, and Tettegouche State park. Are some that have a better deer herd. Remember deer up there migrate from as far as Canada to the north shore. 

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Wanderer
12 hours ago, Mr.Seaguar said:

Thanks for the reply. How far north do I need to go to find lighter hunting pressure? Thanks

 

Doesn’t matter.  The only way you’ll run out of competition during the firearms deer season in MN is if you hunt places that don’t hold much for deer.  And coming from Iowa, I’d argue you’ll be driving through MN’s best public land opportunity for mature deer in SE MN.  I own property in Ely, MN and don’t deer hunt there due to the pressure.

 

Pretty much the only reason Non-Residents come to MN for the firearms deer season is if it’s a traditional thing with friends and family and/or they can hunt on private land.  I’d also argue more Minnesotans go to Iowa to hunt than the reverse.

 

Yes, I’m sounding negative but I’m being honest.  This state’s public land gets hammered.  Don’t expect too much and you might not be disappointed.  

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BRULEDRIFTER

^^^^ Truth ^^^^

 

I honestly don't know why anyone would travel to MN to hunt deer, unless you're like Wanderer state above. Especially if you're coming up from Iowa.  MN deer management is awful! Our state does not like deer! Between intensive harvest management and harsh winters, finding mature deer is extremely rare. 

 

As far as pressure goes during gun season, you're best bet for finding space and getting away from people is to head up into the Superior National Forest. (Maybe the Chippewa National Forest, too, but I have no experience over that way). This is also your best bet for finding a big bodied deer. Up here densities are extremely low (and we may have severe winter kill depending on how the rest of this winter shakes out), but there are pockets of deer to be found, but endless miles in between that are basically void of deer.  If you are set on doing a trip up here, get up here this spring as soon as the snow melts and scout, scout, scout, and then scout some more.  Human pressure is genereally pretty visible, as a lot of people leave their stands up year round. Hunting the northwoods  can be really fun for the challenge and the scenery, but I wouldn't get your hopes set too high on harvesting a mature animal.  It can be done, but endless scouting is going to be your key to the game.  You have to find a mature deer to hunt it. Up here there are so few deer, and so many miles of swamp to hide.  Good luck! 

 

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Mr.Seaguar

It costs $551 for an Iowa NR deer license and there is a lottery. I'm gonna guess there are not more people driving south to hunt. Thanks for all the help everyone. If I kill a deer, I owe it all to you. If I don't,  I can't say that you didn't warn me!

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monstermoose78

Look into the state park hunt along the north shore! I mentioned the best ones. They only allow so many hunters it will be good bet. Best of luck! Post your story 

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Wanderer
54 minutes ago, Mr.Seaguar said:

It costs $551 for an Iowa NR deer license and there is a lottery. I'm gonna guess there are not more people driving south to hunt. Thanks for all the help everyone. If I kill a deer, I owe it all to you. If I don't,  I can't say that you didn't warn me!

 

Yes, Sir! Good luck to you!  I feel better now that you have the rest of the story. 😁

 

For what it’s worth, every year I know at least 3 MN residents that draw Iowa tags (more apply) and those and others who draw for other states as well.  I apply for the Dakotas regularly and would like to try Iowa.  I’ll probably see Montana and possibly Alaska again before an Iowa trip materializes.  $551 is not a deterrent for passionate deer hunters.

 

In 40 years of deer hunting MN public and private land, I’ve never met an Iowan out there.  Plenty on the lakes but none in the woods or fields.  My experience doesn’t make it fact of course.  And I’m not gonna research the numbers.  I’ll just wish you the best of luck and offer advice if you commit to visiting us.

 

Park hunts are good idea to start. 👍

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ANYFISH2

Keep in touch Mr. Seaguar, Hopefully we can help you more to a successful hunt.

 

It really isnt all gloom and doom when it comes to public land hunting here.  If you come with expections of watching mature bucks each day, you will probably be disappointed.  If you enjoy hunting and putting in your stand time, you will be a step ahead of most.

 

Minnesota has a bunch of nice deer even on public if you hunt hard and smart.  I havent found the mature deer myself, but that isnt what is important to our camp, we spend 3 to 5 days at camp each year.  Our goal is 2 or 3 nice deer for the 5 or 6 of us not being overly picky.  That is usually easily accomplished passing on more.  We also hunt in an area with close to 25 hunters per sq mile, a lot of pressure.

 

I wish you all the luck and success this coming fall.

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Wanderer
Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Wanderer said:

 And I’m not gonna research the numbers.  

 

OK, I lied!  

 

MN sells a rough average of 12,000 NR firearms tags per year.  Iowa’s quota totals 6,000, with over 9,000 applicants.  NR Archery hunters heading to Iowa have a 50% chance of drawing one of roughly 2100 tags available.

 

BUT, I’d have to ask the MN DNR via email to break down the numbers by state to see who’s coming round these parts.  I do know the MN DNR likes money. 

Edited by Wanderer
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Mr.Seaguar

There are ways of circumventing the Iowa NR system. You buy a NR antlerless tag and shoot a buck while party hunting with a resident.  So some definitely do hunt Iowa every year but they have to use a doe tag to make it happen. 

 

I looked at the firearms special hunts. I might try that, some of them look very inviting. 

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PRO-V

In 39 years of hunting my northern MN. shack I've seen 1 Iowan and his young son who came up grouse hunting. Where I deer hunt I haven't seen a human by my stand in 15 years. Most of us are spaced at least a mile apart but we have fewer deer and lot's of wolves. Once I had 6 wolves come by my stand spaced out evenly over 300 yards and do a deer drive. Needless to say I didn't see any deer that day.

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CANOPY SAM

It's fascinating how so many refer to the Northeast (Arrowhead) region of the state, yet so few even mention the public lands available in the Northwest region of the state?  Many refer to "Northern Minnesota", but are only truly referring to Northeast Minnesota.  Perhaps I'm the only deer hunter who lives in Northwest Minnesota? 

 

We may not have the monstrous, undivided tracts of old growth forest lands that the NE region has, but we do have millions of acres of prime public hunting grounds with most of it offering quite appealing concentrations of deer.

 

As has been said already, finding reasonably untouched "low pressure" public land to hunt in Minnesota during the Regular Firearms Deer season isn't easy.  On opening weekend pretty much all of it is dotted with bright orange clothing.....on the periphery!!!  If you're driving around the edge of these public hunting lands of course you're going to see hunters scattered all over within a mile or less of their parking spot.  Even the Minnesota DNR supports data that indicates the average hunter doesn't walk more than a mile from their vehicle.

 

But here's the thing, finding really good hunting opportunities on public hunting land really just boils down to how much work you want to do, and how willing you are to go the "extra mile" to get past the crowds.  Many of the State Public hunting lands in the NW region of Minnesota are HUGE!  Some public hunting lands literally cover hundreds of square miles, and only the first mile or so along the peripheral edges ever see a human footprint.

 

Beltrami Island State Forest is a great place to explore HUGE deer hunting opportunities, and this land pumps out giant bucks every year (200+ lb. live weight animals are the norm).  Nearby, Agassiz and Thief Lake Refuges also offer gigantic tracts of public hunting lands (WMA's = wildlife management areas) which again are only pressured on the peripheral edges of hundreds of square miles of untouched deer hunting opportunities.  Nereson, Palmville, Wapiti, Red Lake, East Park, Huntly, Twin Lakes, Pelan, Beaches Lake, Caribou, etc., are all WMA's that offer great hunting opportunities in NW MN.  If you're willing to drive only a few miles further north Roseau River WMA is another gigantic section of public hunting land, and because of its remoteness it actually sees reasonably light hunting pressure, and there are truly mammoth deer running around in there....most likely have never seen a human being.  Pine Island State Forest is another fantastic hunting location, but again, like Roseau River, it's pretty far north (along the southern border of the Rainy River (Canada)), so it's a bit of a drive from Iowa.  A very helpful tip....get yourself a Central and Northwest Minnesota all-outdoors Atlas.  These books offer a comprehensive close look at ALL the land up here, and they are an extremely valuable resource to begin, and narrow down on your "plan" for hunting.

 

I wholeheartedly disagree with the comment above that if you want to hunt public ground with little hunting pressure you'll have to go to areas where there are very few deer.  This may be true in the Northeast region of the state, but this is simply not true of the Northwest corner of Minnesota.  There are almost limitless hunting opportunities for big, mature deer in NW MN, but there are really only two ways you're going to fill a tag with a really respectable buck up here.  1) You're going to hunt deer like 99% of the crowd and get really lucky, or 2) You're going to put in more effort than the average hunter and get to the areas on public hunting ground where no one else goes.

 

One word of caution.  Don't go into these giant remote hunting lands "green".  You'll need a good compass and know how to use it, or better yet, bring along a good quality handheld GPS unit, otherwise there is a very real chance you'll never be seen again!  These hunting grounds don't look like much on a map of Minnesota, but trust me, they really are that big, and that remote.  Not a terrible idea to have some survival gear along as well, just in case.  Seems like we have at least a couple folks who get turned around and lost every season up here.

 

If you can't grow em' on your own large piece of private ground, but you still have the desire to take home a wall-hanger from season to season, you're going to have to work for it.  The opportunities are definitely here. The rest is up to you. ;)  Best of luck to you, Mr. Seaguar.  Please report back on your results from "Next Years Plan".  We like pictures! 

 

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