Local hunters prepare for season

Published 7:57 am Friday, November 5, 2010

Minnesota opens its firearm deer season Saturday — and with this year’s population looking similar to last year’s, hunters may want to take some technical factors into consideration to improve their hunt.

Jeanine Vorland, DNR area wildlife manager, said the deer are currently very active. Firearm season A is coordinated with the beginning of the full rut, when bucks are chasing female deer that are in heat.

Vorland said from what she has gathered, the archery season has been fairly average. The two hunting areas in Mower County have recorded 101 and 66 deer taken, respectively. Area 254, a management area that allows a hunter to take a deer of either sex, has been mostly split between bucks and female deer. That designated area runs from Albert Lea to Austin.

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Proportionally, quite a few more bucks have been taken in 255, which runs from Austin to Highway 63. That is a  lottery area and requires hunters to buy an extra license to shoot anything other than a buck. Vorland added that extra lottery licenses are still available, but there are not many.

For those considering going out this season, there is one major factor that could make the firearm season better this year.

“The crop harvest has been favorable,” Vorland said.

Without the corn for cover, deer are expected to move through the woods into areas where they can more easily be seen grazing.

While that’s good news for hunters, deer have been seen in Mower County well before the crops were harvested, too.

Travvis Stayton of Austin has been deer hunting for nearly 20 years. He started bow hunting three years ago near Austin and has a positive attitude toward this year’s hunt and his location.

“Every time I’ve been out (this year), I’ve seen at least two at the minimum,” Stayton said. “I’ve been watching a big 10-point for the three years I’ve been in there.”

Stayton operates an online business, Home of The Brave Outdoors, where he sells fishing lures, deer scents and deer calls. He likes to take advantage of the deer scents during rut, the breeding season.

“My favorite scent is the 100-percent estrus,” he said. This natural scent is that of a doe in full heat, which means that the rut is right around the corner; and bucks should be attracted.

Stayton noted that hunting in Mower County is very different than it is slightly to the east, where he hunts the firearm season near Lanesboro. He said that hunters in Mower County are more likely to push deer with a group of people, while counties farther east provide more cover and a sit-down style of hunt.

Stayton knows that whether pushing, sitting, using a bow or a firearm, one thing remains the same: It’s not always easy.

“Basically it’s a cat and mouse game,” he said. “The day you think you’ve got them figured out is the day they cut right behind you.”

That’s why Stayton recommends that hunters never give up.

“You could have three bad days and two good days out of a hunting week.”

Although Stayton has become a little choosier with what he shoots over the years, he said it is always nice to have meat in the freezer.

Both Vorland and Stayton encourage hunters to always think safety first.