Deer hunting. A Minnesota tradition. The white-tailed deer is one of Minnesota’s most popular big game animals, and you can find it in every county. When it gets cold, hunting deer is right around the corner. While you can hunt almost anywhere, the Chippewa National Forest in the heart of the MN Northwoods, is one of the best places to sit in a deer stand.
Minnesota deer adapt well to almost any surroundings. The whitetail deer is a large brown or gray mammal that has a white tail that lifts and waves when alarmed and running. Males weigh between 100-300 pounds, and females come in at 85-170 pounds. Whitetails are usually 4 to 6 feet long and have a 6 to 12 inch tail. The color of their coat changes - from reddish brown in summer to grayish brown in winter. Their predators include wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats. White-tailed deer live in forests, swamps, prairies, wooded lots, and agricultural fields. They are common in both suburban and rural areas.
White tail deer use scent, sounds, marketing, and body language to communicate. Each white-tailed deer is capable of producing its own unique audible noise. Fawns will release a high pitched squeal, known as a bleat, to call out to their mothers. A doe will make maternal grunts when searching for her fawns. This grunting produces a low, guttural sound that will attract the attention of any other deer in the area. Both does and bucks snort, which often signals danger. Bucks also grunt, and the grunt gets lower with maturity. Bucks have a unique grunt-snort-wheeze pattern that often shows aggression and hostility. When a white-tailed deer is scared it will raise its tail to warn other deer in the area that are able to see.
Minnesota whitetails eat a large variety of food, commonly eating legumes and foraging on plants including shoots, leaves and grasses. They also eat corn, fruit, and acorns. They are right at home in Minnesota forests with huge oak trees. They have a special stomach that allows them to eat some things that humans cannot, such as mushrooms and poison ivy. Interestingly enough, although almost entirely herbivorous, white-tailed deer have been known to opportunistically feed on nesting songbirds and field mice.
White-tailed deer mate from November to December each year. Their fawns are born seven months later. Fawns have white spots that remain for three to four months. The fawns will stay close to and remain with their mothers while they nurse for several months. Male deer (bucks) travel long distances in search of females (does) during mating season.
Male white-tailed deer re-grow their antlers every year. Antlers begin to grow in late spring dovered with a tissue called velvet. Females rarely have antlers. Typical antlers are symmetrical and points grow straight up off the main beam. Bucks without branching antlers are often termed “spike bucks” or simply “spikes”. Believe it or not, length and branching of antlers is determined by nutrition, age and genetics. The number of points, the length or thickness of the antlers are a general indication of age but cannot be relied upon for positive aging. “Points” are an important descriptor for hunters. Hunting an older buck with many points can mean that the deer has been elusive for a long time period. Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, which is generally from late December to February.
Minnesota is the best place to hunt deer. There are thousands of acres of natural habitat where hunters can easily set up hidden stands. In the late MN fall, there is no better pass-time. The only challenge? The cold. Long idle times in the deer stand have forced outdoors manufacturers to innovate to keep fingers and toes warm during long and cold hunts up north.
If you don’t need a firearm to do your deer hunting - you can start in mid-September each year in Minnesota. For most hunters, the season starts during the first week of November. Most hunters will tell you that the best time to go is right away! The more deer, the better. For more detailed information on Minnesota deer hunting season, go to the DNR website.
You can hunt in the forest or hunt in the prairie. There are so many great places to hunt white-tailed deer in Minnesota. One of the finest places is in and around the Chippewa National Forest around Grand Rapids, MN. Guests at Big Timber Resort can stay in a heated cozy cabin during their hunting stay, while being minutes from great places to set up a deer stand. Contact us today for reservations.
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