Deer hunters will find very useful a Department of Natural Resources(DNR) interactive map released Thursday afternoon. The online tool contains important information that will inform and entertain anyone even mildly interested in the state’s deer and deer management — especially Minnesota’s 500,000 whitetail hunters.
Online, the map can be found at mndnr.gov/deermap. Here’s how it works:
• Clicking on the URL takes hunters to a site where they can select either a desktop or mobile version of the map.
• Clicking on one or the other produces a state hunting permit area map. Clicking on a desired area — for explanatory purposes, I randomly selected area 241 — yields the area’s basic hunting season information. One more click and additional deer hunting details about the area appear.
• Example: Hunting season dates and bag limits are listed. Additionally, land types are detailed, among them upland woody cover, grasslands and farmlands. Total square miles of public lands open to hunting also are recorded by designation, including, for example, wildlife management areas, state forests and federal lands.
• Listed as well are the number of hunters per square mile last year in the permit area and the number of deer harvested per hunter. Total deer harvested in 2014 by firearms, archery and muzzleloader also are registered, broken down by adult male, fawn male, adult female or fawn female.
• The number of deer harvested per square mile for the most recent four years also is itemized, as is the area’s management designation for those years (whether Hunter’s Choice, Lottery, Management, etc.) and its winter severity index for the same period.
• • •
Here’s just one of many ways the map could be used:
Say a hunter is contemplating hunting deer in one of two permit areas. Or perhaps he or she wants to buy hunting land in one of the two areas. Hypothetically, let’s say the areas are 241 and 127 near the North Shore.
Comparing the two using the map quickly shows:
• Far more public land is available in area 127 than in 241 — 485 square miles compared to only 27 — even though area 127 is considerably smaller than area 241, 564 square miles compared to 996.
• Hunters in area 241 harvested far more deer last year than those in 127: 6,737 compared to only 47. As expected, the number of deer killed per hunter in area 241 also far exceeded the number in 127. But area 241 was also far more crowded than 127 — an important consideration — with 15.5 firearms hunters per square mile, compared to only 0.8 in 127.
A DNR spokesman acknowledged Thursday the map would have been more useful for hunters this season had it been released a couple weeks back, instead of two days before the firearms season.
Still, officials hope hunters explore the map in coming days and weeks and offer feedback when prompted on the DNR site.
Dennis Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org