120,000 hunters expected statewideShotgun season opens Saturday
Washington County Conservation director Steve Anderson called this Saturday “the biggest opening day of the year” as deer hunters will be traveling to their favorite hunting spots to try to bag their limit.
The first relatively short shotgun deer season is scheduled to begin Saturday, Dec. 1 and run through Wednesday, Dec. 5. The second shotgun season comes only three days later, opening Dec. 8 and running through Dec. 16. Anderson said that huge numbers of hunters are expected and he warns people to be safe and respect property lines during the season.
“It is a big time and humans are the No. 1 deer management tool to the DNR (Department of Natural Resources),” Anderson said. “They are saying that they expect people to see fewer deer this season. Effectively what they are saying is that hunters have been successful in reducing the deer numbers in the state.”
Tom Litchfield, a deer biologist for the DNR, projects deer numbers will be down about 10 percent. He said the state has been working to decrease deer numbers since 2003. This has been accomplished primarily though the sale of county-specific antlerless tags. Tags are sold at the Washington County Recorder’s office as well as sporting goods stores.
Anderson said that in most counties the numbers of deer has been brought down to a manageable level. He believes Washington County is one where the numbers have not been brought down as far as hoped.
Over the last week, as rutting season has ended, the number of car vs. deer accidents reported to the Washington County Communications Center has been dropping. Anderson said this is one of the statistics the DNR uses to determine how many deer are in the area.
The reason for two seasons, Anderson said, is to try to spread out the hunting to reduce the number of hunters in the field at the same time for reasons of management and safety.
Anderson said the department would spot-check its own areas during the hunting season. He said that there are some county areas that are open to hunting.
“Our Brinton Timber area is definitely not,” he said. “Our Smitter, Rubio, English River and Sockum Ridge areas are open to public hunting and we invite people to partake.”
He also reminded public land users that the hunting season is going on. He also said law is to wear blaze orange. Anderson said that most hunting accidents occur when hunters are running a block and drive situation and a deer goes between two sets of hunters. He warned hunters to be aware of what is downrange from a running animal.