bowman, where in mn? ive hunted in the north in mn and the south, in areas up north with and without wolves. up by intrntl falls, have relations, and that area has a good herd and wolves and moose, kinda like ontario, which shows that nature can balance herds and packs and still have deer left. the key is the age structure, ongoing. if you're seeing lots of 3.5s, but not many older, your doing everything as a hunter to put yourself in front of older deer yet so its not your fault, but id say your herd is in danger of wolves. heres why.
3.5 is average turnover (generation) time in deer. meaning if the oldest in your herd are 3, the herd is not well balanced agewise and the onset of wolves will wreak hovac. as ive seen in paul bunyan state forest by walker, no wolves, no problem but average oldest buck found was 4.5. still not old enough this year wolves moved in and all my grandpa's group seen was zip, and they normally kill at least three deer minimum a year there. i hunt with my cousins a few miles away from gramps and our group saw a spike. thats it. every year for 5 before in a row someone got a big 8 or better, but this year nuthin. its sad, but solely based on a herd not in sync with nature.
winter, pumas, lynx, wolves all take the same age groups - right. common knowledge. fawns, old loners, and the weakest at any given time. man is the one who doesnt abide by natural selection, and when nature comes round again, our doings to the herd combined totally wipe it all out. why? because man harvests the middle age class out, and that is who nature lets go to carry on and remain adaptable. see the problem. ontario has moose, deer, and wolves. its a delicate balance, but all coexist because the hunters there often adopt the same killing ways as nature, to blend in. thats why ontario makes some awesome radical bucks. and to have moose and deer because of the brain worm, there has to be low densities of deer. wi is having a similiar problem with wolves in that man here as well hasnt considered age in the herd and in the harvest. there should be in a natural herd deer of all ages on both sides of the buck and doe. this doesnt allow for artificially high harvests that dnrs have adopted to bring profits to the "buissness" they've become. very complex, but totally solvable.
dnrs need to change a lot, hunters need to get a new mentallity, and then we can hammer this out. but if hunters want tons of deer, and wolves arent allowed to be harvested(which is about as meaningful in practice as coyote hunting and trapping, few do it and the numbers bounce right back), we are in for a rough ride in the great lakes.
only if we had antler point restrictions...
try not to become a man of success, but a man of value.