2018 Tower DNR area deer season forecast

The 2018 16-day firearms deer season will begin Saturday, Nov. 3 and end Sunday, Nov. 18.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Office in Tower is forecasting a deer population that is recovered from the severe winters of 2013 + 2014 in Northern St. Louis and Northern Lake Counties.
Wildlife managers report the deer herd has rebounded nicely and is now within the population “sweet spot” established for our area.
The last four winters have been mild to moderate, as measured by the DNR Winter Severity Index. As a result, fawn production has been excellent with twin fawns the norm in the better areas.
Winter severity, predation and antlerless deer harvest are the most significant mortality factors in northern forest deer management.
The 2018 deer season framework is much more liberal, in response to the growing population.
One permit area is now designated “Managed”, five are “Hunters Choice”, only two are “Lottery” and one is “Bucks Only”.
The “Hunters Choice” designation includes 176, 178, 117, 130, and 131. All these permit areas are within established population goals.
One permit area is designated “Managed.” 177 is highly productive and the herd has grown rapidly.
The “Lottery” designation includes deer permit areas 118 and 132. These permit areas are at the low end of goals. The lottery deadline was Thursday September 7th.
One permit area is still “Bucks-only,” 119. The population in this area is below goal and limited by a loss off quality winter cover.
The bag limit is one deer in all nine local permit areas except 177, which is two.
Rutting activity and buck movement should be steadily ramping up early in the 16-day firearms season.
The “chasing phase” of the rut should peak during the 1st week. Breeding activity should peak during the 2nd week as the annual rutting season transitions into the reproductive phase and deer movement typically slows down.
Hunters should plan for very wet field conditions across the area. Fall has been extremely wet. Standing water is common in low areas.
Normally accessible spots in low terrain will be difficult to access in 2018. Logging road and trail access is difficult in lower areas this year. Swamps, low areas and crossings are inaccessible for wheeled vehicles in many areas. Use discretion…rutting ruins the access for everyone.
Water levels (lakes, rivers and streams) are high for this time of year (late October). Scout ahead of time for local conditions in your hunting area and use appropriate discretion.
In 2018, hunters can again register their deer on-line http://Licenses.dnr.state.mn.us , by phone (888/706-6367) or at the traditional walk-in
Deer populations are rebounding very well across the area, but scouting in advanced, to find deer activity, will pay dividends.
Deer observations and sign are not evenly distributed across the forest.
Field staff are reporting a good fawn crop for the 4th consecutive year. This is a result of a pretty average winter in 2018. Only April was harsh. Does came through winter in good condition. The majority of winter had less than 15” of snow which led to increased deer mobility, low winter severity, and decreased predation.
Hunters can expect to see lots of young deer. Spikes and forks will be very common on the game pole. These are 18 month old bucks.
Deer are now feeding heavily in prime food sources such hay fields, recent cutovers, food plots, rural yards and along mowed roadsides.
Deer population recovery takes time in forested habitats. Local populations always vary within the larger permit areas. Deer populations are generally higher in permit areas to the west and south of Tower (176, 177 and 178) and lowest in permit areas to the east and north (117, 118, 119, 130, 131 and 132).
PA’s 119, 118, 117, 130, 131, and 132 are less productive with rocky, thin or wet soils. Hunters will likely see more deer in these permit areas, too. Fawn production was also good, generally a mix of single fawns and twins observed. With lower twinning rates, population recovery takes longer in these permit areas.