The year 2020 put a spin on the Minnesota deer season opening weekend. Could we expect anything different than the norm this year?

I got a sunburn.

Reading through the conservation officer reports after the recent deer season opener, one could detect that this year's report was a little different than previous years' reports. Where once hunters donned enormous amounts of insulated clothing, waterproof boots, hats with ear-lappers and chopper style mittens to keep fingers from becoming icicles, this year all those cold preventative items stayed in the back seat of the truck.

Global warming had entered the deer woods in 2020.

Instead of the normal routine of checking whitetail hunters, conservation officers were out checking fishermen floating on lakes devoid of ice. One officer reported checking in on a dad and his young daughter fishing off a public access and the little girl was wearing shorts and flip flops. And they weren't blaze orange. Dad said the fishing was a little slow, but the weather was great. He probably had his deer rifle lying in the back seat of his pickup.

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As a steady breeze pushed in from the south, ducks decided not to migrate just yet. Shots were heard over the water as camouflage-clad hunters decided to harvest wild duck instead of wild whitetails.

The wind in our section of deer woods gained strength and eventually was strong enough to cause loose limbs to come crashing to earth, one nearly putting a big dent in my brother-in-law's truck. Deer don't like to move in high wind and the deer harvest throughout Minnesota took a hit.

Reports seem to say that the harvest might have been down as much as 22% overall. The deer forecast was rosy, but both the licenses issued and the actual registrations were down. The area around our stands was quiet for the most part with only a few scattered shots to be heard.

I sauntered the quarter of a mile to my stand in relative comfort not having to be weighed down by 20 pounds of clothing. After climbing into the stand, my face was greeted by a soothing, southerly breeze. My eyelids didn't instantly freeze as in past years and my hands didn't shake while holding that first cup of coffee.

The feeling seemed almost sacrilegious in not having to suffer. Instead of gritting my teeth while waiting for the noon lunch call and having to crawl out of the stand to put blood back into my extremities, I was able to relax in relative comfort and enjoy the woodsy scenery around my oak tree cluster.

Our group of seven managed to harvest venison over the weekend. Most all had at least seen a deer and there were other nature-produced sights as well. One of our hunters had 30 turkeys peck their way under his stand. My brother had a pair of otters playing around the base of his tree and a multitude of squirrels and a couple of porcupines provided company. Tundra swans were flying overhead as were mallard and bluebill ducks.

There were things going on.

And so the deer season followed all the other irregular happenings of the year 2020. Our noon campfire was about the only thing normal this year where we toasted our annual charcoaled ham and cheese sandwich lunch and relived the stories of the camp in relative warmth.

I'm wondering if that little girl fishing off the dock in her shorts and flip flops caught anything on opening day of deer season. Afterall, it is the year 2020.

See you next time. Okay? Be safe!

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