- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - An army of Minnesota hunters clad in blaze orange will take to the woods in force Saturday as the state’s main firearms deer season opens. Here are some things to know about this year’s hunt:


The Department of Natural Resources says more deer are out in the woods this fall, so hunters may see more deer from their tree stands - though restrictions on shooting antlerless deer means another conservative season. The state’s deer herd has grown thanks to a relatively mild winter and fewer antlerless permits last season. But for the second season in a row, the DNR is seeking to rebuild the herd in areas where deer populations remain below their goals. One-deer limits remain in place across most of the state, and it’s a bucks-only season again in northern Minnesota to ensure that more fawns will be born next spring. The DNR projects this season’s harvest at 140,000 to 155,000 deer, compared with about 139,000 last season. Last season’s success rate was 25 percent for firearms hunters. Minnesota’s deer population is estimated at about 1 million.


Mountain Iron is hosting the 13th annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener, with most festivities set for Thursday and Friday. However, Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t able to attend. Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said the governor’s father has been ill for the last couple days, so he plans to spend time with his family. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was set to speak at the banquet Thursday night in his place. The official deer opener tradition began under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an avid deer hunter. Dayton hasn’t hunted at any of them before because he’s not a deer hunter, but he normally appears at some of the public events. Dayton is an avid pheasant hunter, though, and founded the official Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener.


Minnesota has nearly 500,000 deer hunters, and they spend lots of money on their passion. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that all hunting-related expenditures in Minnesota totaled $725 million annually. Trip-related expenses including food, lodging and transportation totaled $235 million. Hunters spent $400 million on equipment, and $90 million on licenses, permits, land leasing and ownership, magazines, membership dues and other items.


The DNR urges hunters to review new regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes. One change for 2015 affects licenses purchased after the season opens. They’re valid the same day only if purchased before legal shooting hours. If they’re purchased after shooting hours open (a half-hour before sunrise), they’re not valid until the following day. Current information is available on the DNR’s deer hunting web page at https://www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer and information about the agency’s deer management and population goal-setting is available at https://www.mndnr.gov/deer . Information on the governor’s opener is available at: https://www.mngovernorsdeeropener.com .

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