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A few nice walleye or northern pike like this one work well for a late fall back-up plan to deer hunting, granted you harvest a deer in the opening days of the firearms season. After that, it's possible and probable that the lakes will be frozen. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Bring the boat for deer season

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Even though deer licenses have changed in the past few years, allowing hunters minimal deer harvest in the Park Rapids area, residents who frequently travel the roadways realize that the local deer population is strong.

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If you live around Park Rapids, you don't respond to the question of "Have you ever hit a deer with your vehicle," but rather, "How many deer have you hit with your vehicle?"

It's not uncommon to see small herds of deer; bucks, does and fawns, frequenting the road shoulders while grazing upon tender grass shoots.

Some well-known fields in the region actually attract white-tail watchers, especially around sun-up and sun-down. Though the territories are marked "no trespassing," interested deer enthusiasts wait in the wings of the road shoulder with binoculars solely aiming for a clear view of a big buck. To see a behemoth buck is worth the time, even though the off-limits animal might never be seen in legitimate hunting grounds.

Since the likelihood of shooting a deer on the opening day of deer season is likely, you may want to establish a back-up plan for the remainder of the season.

The first plan may include helping others in your hunting group succeed, since party hunting, under certain parameters, is permitted in Minnesota.

The second option may be to plan for heading another direction; one differing from field. Bring a boat and head out fishing.

Let's envision the positive attributes first:

#1. You got lucky and nailed a nice deer in the first few minutes of opening morning. After field dressing and processing, you now have plenty of extra days to fulfill.

#2-If you decide to fish, the competition on the lakes is minimal.

#3-Everyone at deer camp will enjoy a fish dinner of walleye and northern pike, two species which are readily active even when the water's cold. (Approximately 45-degrees right now).

#4-You could drag your limit of 6 walleyes through the woods much easier than you can drag one deer through the woods.

#5- Remember, only one walleye per angler over 20." And 6 walleyes would easily feed your deer camp for a meal with leftovers. One deer could mean a couple weeks to wait for processing. Also, Uncle Jim's annual opening day chili (secret recipe of course,) may cause indigestion, night sweats, flatulence, scurvy, rickets, jaundice and "itchy trigger finger." (The final is a combination of chili inflicted recourse in combination with buck fever.)

Of course there are negative attributes of fishing during deer season.

#1-Others may think you are gloating since you shot your deer so quickly in the first part of the firearms season.

#2-Party members have figured out that you'd rather fish than hunt; true statements except you intrinsically enjoy the camaraderie and humorous tales from the past that take place at deer camp.

#3-Uncle Jim's chili really is quite palatable, but field dressing a deer causes a squeamish intestinal response to food for days to come.

In other words, bring the boat...just in case.

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