A 27-point trophy buck that escaped from an Olmsted County deer farm in April was killed by a bow hunter last week on public land near Elba, state officials confirmed Tuesday.
The thickly antlered, nontypical whitetail was still carrying an identification tag in its ear and the Board of Animal Health confirmed it was the same buck reported missing in April by a producer of trophy deer. The animal escaped through a storm-damaged fence, a Department of Natural Resources official said, adding that other escapees were recovered within 72 hours.
Captive deer herds have been linked by state wildlife officials to three of Minnesota’s four outbreaks of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer. The 27-pointer was kept by the hunter who shot it, but the Board of Animal Health was able to obtain tissue samples from the animal to determine if it was infected with the always fatal, highly contagious wasting disease. Test results are pending. The deer’s owner was fined $250 for allowing it to be at large in the wild.
Hunting spot hints
Hunters still deciding where to seek deer when the 2019 firearms season opens Saturday can find a wealth of information online on the Department of Natural Resources’ “Deer reports and statistics’’ page.
The DNR page, at tinyurl.com/yxaajovn, offers virtually real time reports on deer harvested statewide and by permit area. As of Monday, for instance, 21,750 deer were killed by hunters so far this fall, 44% of which were adult males and 43% adult females.
A map on the page also details the harvest by Deer Permit Area (DPA). In the metro, for example, 1,083 whitetails have been killed this fall, including 515 adult females and 433 adult males.
Harvest reports for previous deer seasons also are included and contain a wealth of information.
Which DPA has among the most hunters per square mile? Answer: DPA 157, near Mille Lacs, with nearly 15 hunters for each square mile. DPA 117, meanwhile, in the far north has only 0.2 hunters per square mile.
The number of bucks harvested per square mile also varies widely. Statewide, the buck harvest per square mile last year was 1.03. But in DPA 214, in Todd and Morrison counties just west of Camp Ripley, 3.06 bucks were killed per square mile.
Camp Ripley harvest
Archers killed 278 deer during the two annual hunts at Camp Ripley held Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 26-27.
Once one of the nation’s premier archery hunts, with considerably more applicants than permits available, Ripley has been held in lesser regard in recent years, in part because some hunters believe the camp’s herd has been trimmed in size too far, and its permit allocation has been undersubscribed.
This fall, 2,137 archers participated, though 2,639 permits had been awarded. The bag limit again was two.
Total harvest was 278 animals, with 103, or 37%, being adult males and 30% being adult females. Fawns accounted for 14%.
Most interesting were harvest differences between the first and second days of the two-day hunts — parallels of which can be drawn to other types of hunting, say for pheasants or ducks. Specifically, once a species is disturbed or displaced, e.g., “hunted,’’ it seeks refuge quickly and is more difficult to locate on the following day(s).
Example: On the first two-day Ripley hunt, Oct. 17-18, 46 deer were killed the initial day by 595 hunters, while only 20 were killed the second day by 550 hunters.
During the second hunt, 136 deer were killed on the first day by 1,542 hunters, while 76 were killed the second day by 1,336 hunters.
Hunter effort, of course, could have been, and likely was, less on the second day of the hunts, and could have accounted for the differences, in part. But similarly, hunter effort might have lagged because fewer animals were seen and hunters “gave up.’’