Skip to main content

Minnesota deer herd already in mid-winter mode; numbers may suffer

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Deep snow followed by a deep freeze means Minnesota whitetails are already in a little too deep for their liking.

The Duluth News Tribune says reports from the field indicate deer are already showing behaviors they usually resort to only in late winter, if at all. A wildlife photographer tells the newspaper he's seen deer congregating in the cover of conifer stands, in a practice known as "yarding up."

As Department of Natural Resources wildlife manager Chris Balzer explains in the article "There’s a lot of snow stuck in the spruce and balsam fir trees, and that means less on the ground." In addition, the conifers provide a windbreak and attract more sunlight than the surrounding snow. But Balzer says yarding up typically occurs in late winter and in mild years it may not happen at all.

This year Minnesota's deer herd was already a little smaller than normal coming into the winter. That's one reason hunters took 6 percent fewer whitetails this fall.

The executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association tells the News Tribune he's also heard that deer have been spotted pushing snow. “That’s a good indication that it’s going to be a tough winter for deer,” Mark Johnson says.

The northland was in the grip of arctic temperatures again Sunday, when it got down to 32 below zero in International Falls. But the forecast calls for comparatively balmy highs in the 20's early this week.

Even in parts of the state that aren't buried under snow and below zero, there are hazards for the whitetail. Witness the trio who wandered onto Albert Lea Lake this month and spent days floundering on the lake's ice before neighbors with a hovercraft located the deer and towed them to safety.

Next Up

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 28

The state is still in the process of catching up with 10,000 yet-to-be processed tests.

Bryan Acuna

Twins sign 16-year-old brother of Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr.

Bryan Acuna is one of the top international prospects, according to MLB.com.

Christopher Endicott

Authorities: Former principal who died in MN jail took his own life

He was found unresponsive in the jail last November.

ambulance

Sheriff: 2 injured, drunk driver arrested after head-on crash

The allegedly drunk driver wasn't injured in the crash.

dirty_jobs

Newest 'Dirty Jobs' ep. has Mike Rowe scraping shmutz in MN

He'll scrape and clean a "special kind of shmutz" from the bottom of an escalator at a local hockey arena.

school, classroom

Here are the 77 nominees for the MN Teacher of the Year award

The nominees will be trimmed to a group of semifinalists and then a group of finalists.

crystal police department

2 women found dead in Crystal home, police investigating

Authorities investigating the incident as a murder-suicide.

Screen Shot 2022-01-27 at 9.15.45 PM

Buckeyes crash the glass, fend off Gophers

E.J. Liddell dominated in the paint to help No. 16 Ohio State.

Related