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


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

rocky taconite-silver bay

Six of the most random roadside attractions in Minnesota

From a two-story outhouse to a squad car's crash with a UFO, here's a list of some of the state's most random attractions.

boys volleyball

MSHSL to vote on adding girls wrestling, boys volleyball tournaments

A two-thirds majority vote is needed to pass the proposals.


Shakopee restaurant owner charged with 58 tax crimes

The woman, from Savage, is accused of underreporting sales to avoid tax.

gofundme - abdullahi photo

Second suspect, a 17-year-old girl, arrested in Moorhead taxi driver's killing

Abdullahi Abdullahi was found dead in his taxi last week.


Big playoff implications for the Wild Monday night

Minnesota wraps up the regular season Wednesday-Thursday in St. Louis.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 5.44.29 PM

Brooklyn Center mayor proposes policing reform, including unarmed traffic enforcement

The resolution includes sweeping changes to policing in the wake of Daunte Wright's death.

Computer screens

This UW-Superior degree sets you up for a career in big data

UW-Superior offers online master’s program for transforming big data into better insights.

Pixabay - hiker forest woods warm

Get paid $1,000 (and a new phone) to show off MN's 'great outdoors'

An online company is looking for a 'Chief Adventure Officer" as a promotion.

ella and puff

Contest seeks 12 Minnesota dogs for 2022 Top Dogs calendar

The dogs with the most votes will be featured in the calendar to benefit the Animal Humane Society.