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Deer testing finds additional cases of CWD 

By Minnesota DNR Reports

A wild deer harvested in Dakota County on Nov. 7 and a vehicle-killed deer in Olmsted County on Nov. 4 were confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease. To date, 95 wild deer have tested positive for CWD in Minnesota.

The case of the Dakota County deer, an adult male, marks the first time the fatal neurological disease has been detected in a hunter-harvested wild deer in the newly established south metro disease management zone. The deer was harvested less than a mile from a CWD-positive wild deer discovered in March and was tested after the hunter provided the sample as part of the DNR’s voluntary sampling program.

The Olmsted County deer, an adult female, appeared to suffer injury from a vehicle before dying in Rochester. The resident who reported the dead deer brought the carcass to be sampled by DNR staff for CWD testing. While this is not the first wild deer to have the disease within deer permit area 643, it is the farthest northwest that CWD has been found in the southeast disease management zone.

The DNR has notified the hunter and resident who submitted the deer for sampling of the positive test results, and the meat and carcasses from both deer have been properly disposed.

“It’s concerning to see these two positive test results. We will continue gathering data to see how prevalent the disease is in these areas, and maintain our aggressive management response,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor.

The DNR continues to collect samples from hunter-harvested deer in designated areas during all hunting seasons to help monitor the spread of the disease. Hunters in CWD management zones, control zones or surveillance areas are urged to drop off the head of deer 1 year of age or older at self-service sampling stations.

“We’re grateful to hunters and other Minnesotans for providing samples to test for this disease and help safeguard the health of our wild deer population,” Carstensen said. “These two positive test results are unfortunate, but highlight the importance of our sampling efforts in getting information that shows us how prevalent the disease is in an area. We urge hunters to continue bringing deer to sampling stations. Every sample counts.”

As part of its CWD response plan, the DNR is monitoring for CWD in disease management zones around areas that CWD has been detected in wild deer, as well as in CWD surveillance areas where CWD has been found in captive deer. The CWD management zones are located in the southeast, north-central and south metro areas of Minnesota; the CWD surveillance areas are located in the east-central, west-central and south metro areas of Minnesota.


Record success rate for Camp Ripley archery deer hunts

By Mn DNR Reports

Archery hunters who participated in the Camp Ripley hunts near Little Falls harvested 310 deer and had a record success rate during the event held Oct. 15 to Oct. 16 and Oct. 31 to Nov. 1.

“It was an exceptional event this year,” said Dr. Bill Faber, head of the Central Lakes College Natural Resources Program. “Despite fewer participants, the harvest was up 11.5% from last year; and above the 40-year average of 305 deer.” During the hunts, 16% of archers harvested a deer, representing an unprecedented success rate at Camp Ripley. The rate is well above the long-term average of 9%.

This year, 1,864 participating hunters harvested 310 deer. During the 2019 hunts, 2,137 hunters harvested 278 deer. This year, hunters harvested at least 25 large, antlered bucks (greater than 8% of total harvest) during the event, well above the 3.5% long-term average of total harvest. The largest was a 16-point buck that a hunter checked in on the last day.

The Minnesota DNR modified some aspects of this year’s hunt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Administration of the event went well and without any major issues, said Beau Liddell, DNR wildlife manager at Little Falls.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunts in collaboration with Central Lakes College Natural Resources Program and the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military facility.


Michigan DNR sees spike in hunting amid pandemic

By Associated Press

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — A renewed interest in hunting has dramatically increased since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit across the U.S., forcing businesses to shut down and people to stay home, according to statistics from the Michigan DNR.

So far, the DNR has issued 751,310 deer hunting licenses, compared to 584,802 licenses issued in 2019, The Daily Tribune reported. Many hunters also acquired multiple licenses for the various deer hunting seasons – antlerless, firearms, or archery.

A mid-September report from the Michigan DNR indicates that overall participation in deer hunting is up 26.97% over the same time as last year, and overall participation in hunting is up 121.61%.

While the final numbers for 2020 won’t be known until end of the year, the DNR said its biggest day for issuing hunting licenses is usually the weekend before the regular firearm deer season begins in mid-November.

The increase in hunters is good as particularly when it comes to deer hunting, there have been fewer hunters in recent years as older people “age out” and fewer younger people don’t have the time or may have other priorities. The DNR relies on hunters to manage and cull the state’s estimated 1.7 million deer population.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Kristin Phillips, chief of marketing and outreach for the Michigan DNR. “I’m trying to keep my expectations in check.”


Hunter tags black bear in southeast Minnesota

by Rob Drieslein

Winona County, Minn. — A Lewiston man legally tagged a black bear in an unlikely place in late September: southeastern Minnesota. According to a DNR bear researcher, the kill marks only the second time in recent state history that a hunter has legally harvested a bear in the region.

Randy Hoekstra said he’d never had any desire to hunt bears anywhere, much less his 37 acres of bluff country hunting ground south of his home in Lewiston. But when a trail camera began showing a black bear regularly visiting a water tank on his property in western Winona County’s Rupprecht Valley, he figured he’d purchase a tag.

Five years earlier via a trail camera, something large, black and blurry appeared on an image that Hoekstra chalked up to being a wayward beef cow, but friends with bear hunting experience told him he was seeing a bear.

An electromechanic for a malting company in Winona, Hoekstra didn’t think much more of that incident until late this past summer when he saw potential evidence of bear activity in the form of flattened soybeans in an agricultural field. Though he could find no physical evidence of bear activity, the experienced outdoorsman said the several large swaths of flattened crops did not resemble deer damage.

Then, on Sept. 18, the black bear popped up on his trail cam.

“After it happened several days in a row, I researched bear hunting and bought a no-quota zone tag,” Hoekstra said. “I’d never hunted bears before. Never had, and never really wanted to. I’m a whitetail guy.”

That deer hunting experience came in handy, however, as Hoekstra considered the wind and his stand placement before heading out and successfully bagging the bruin on Friday, Sept. 25 with his muzzleloader.

Winona-area Conservation Officer Tom Hemker said he chatted with Hoekstra, and the bear hunter did everything right in legally harvesting the bear, a rarity in the southeast – the vast majority of black bear harvest in Minnesota occurs in the northeastern part of the state. Hemker said he had heard some bear reports in 2020, including an animal in the vicinity of Great River State Park near Nodine.

Andrew Tri, a DNR bear researcher with the agency’s forest wildlife and populations research group in Grand Rapids, wasn’t available by phone this week but did provide a quick email response to an Outdoor News query about southeast bears.

The agency, he said, knows there is a small population of bears in the so-called “driftless” zone of the state. There have even been documented females with cubs denning up in the region since 1996, he said.

“We don’t have any specific estimates for that part of the state, but the rich mix of oak forest in the driftless with abundant agriculture makes good bear habitat,” Tri said.

To his knowledge, only one bear has ever been harvested in the southeast, back in 2017, near Winona. The southeast is part of the no-quota zone, but only a few hunters ever hunt there each year.

“We presume most of these bears come from Wisconsin, rather than following the river. That said, there’s nothing preventing a few stray bears from up north from heading south,” Tri said.

Outdoor News tried touching base with Don Ramsden, DNR assistant area wildlife manager out of Rochester, for a more local report. He said via email that, for the past 20-plus years, six to eight bears are traveling in the southeast annually.

Hoekstra said he and a buddy estimated the male bear’s weight at 150 pounds, and “he was just full of corn.” They processed the corn-fed bruin into jerky, burger, and roasts, which family and friends have consumed rapidly.

“My son-in-law put bear burgers on the grill, and they tasted like beef. Just excellent,” he said. “We about got him eaten up.”

A taxidermist in Bethany, Minn., has the hide, though a heavy coating of southern Minnesota burdocks in the bruin’s hair could make brushing out a bear rug challenging, Hoekstra said.


Smart sensory strategies for fooling whitetails

by Tyler Frantz

White-tailed deer are genetically well prepared for survival. They have sharp eyesight, keen hearing, and an incredible sense of smell, making them a challenging species to hunt.

To be successful, hunters must employ tactics that outweigh a deer’s strengths while taking advantage of their weaknesses in a comprehensive examination of the five senses.

Any plan of attack should include these sensory details in order to fool a fall whitetail.


Deer have quality vision, but through the years, I’ve learned that they are more prone to pick out movement, solid patterns, and human outlines than actual colors.

Granted, deer can see certain ranges of the color spectrum, (blue in particular), so it’s not the best idea to wear a pair of Levi’s into the deer stand. But any kind of camouflage that helps break up the human form will do just fine.

Camo gloves, as well as a facemask or painted face, is better than shiny skin, and anything you can do to reduce glare from a watch face, eyeglasses or other flashy object will help reduce the likelihood of being picked off.

Try to select a treestand location with plenty of surrounding vegetation to conceal your human outline. A fat man in a skinny tree sticks out like a sore thumb against an otherwise barren skyline, so be sure to give yourself a decent backdrop with nearby branches, or consider climbing higher into the canopy to get above their line of sight.

I go about 20-feet, which is where I feel safe, and I seldom get spotted.

Keep unnecessary movements to a minimum, and only draw your bow when you have some sort of blocking structure or the deer is facing the opposite direction.

If they do catch you, freeze as still as possible, and beware of the false head bob, because deer will often fake like they are eating only to pick their heads back up and catch you in the act. If you can outlast their stand-off and they can’t quite make you out, you might just get another opportunity.


While deer don’t have supersonic hearing, they will definitely react negatively to substandard equipment. If your treestand squeaks or groans when shifting your weight, your coat sounds like a bag of chips at full draw, or your bow cracks loudly at the shot, you might as well have stayed home to watch hunting shows from the couch.

Deer are not stupid, and they will become fully alert at the first sounds of danger. Do your absolute best to minimize sounds by wearing quiet hunting garments, tightening all treestand parts and dampening bow accessories to the best of your abilities.

Be cautious in your approach to the stand so you don’t tip them off of your presence, choosing your path carefully and watching where you step.


A deer’s olfactory sense is probably its best overall defense, so hunters must be extra diligent in their efforts to reduce human odors. Become obsessive about scent control and you will see your success rate climb.

Yes, Joe Schmo, can get lucky once in a while and shoot a buck while smoking a cigarette, wearing the same outfit he slept in last night, but that’s not the norm. Deer associate foreign odors with danger, and the more careful you are about containing them, the better off you’ll be.

Shower in scent-eliminating soaps. Wash clothes in scent-free detergents. Store gear in airtight containers. Dress in the field. Hunt downwind of anticipated trails. Use a cover scent. Wiser words were never written.


In terms of this sense, you absolutely must hunt where the deer feel most comfortable. For starters, find locations with plenty of cover. If deer can walk through wide-open hardwoods or a nearby row of conifers, they will opt to hug the concealment of the evergreens more times than not.

On the other hand, if you can find subtle trail openings in super-dense cover, such as a regenerating chop-off or thick laurel, deer will often take this path of least resistance because they have security cover all around them.

It doesn’t make sense for them to battle the nasties when they have an easy path through the middle of it all. Take note of these areas and hang a stand nearby.

Early in the season, deer will likely avoid coming to fields with the sun high overhead and will primarily stick to shaded woodlots, but as daytime temps cool by evening, they will begin trickling to the feed, which brings me to my fifth and final sense.


This is a deer’s number one weakness. Find the food and you’ll find the deer.

If you can focus on the hot food source at the moment, (as long as there’s security cover and water nearby, as well as limited hunting pressure), you can almost guarantee to get into deer.

Early in the season, clover, leafy browse and white oak acorns are big-time targets. As the season progresses, chestnut oaks and other acorns, standing corn, turnips and dried soybeans pick up, as well.

Adjust with the changing flow of preferred food sources and you’ll stay on deer for the duration of the fall seasons.

By paying closer attention to the sensory details that help whitetails thrive, you’ll do a better job of fooling one this fall.

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