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Alexandria Minnesota Deer Hunters Association collects over 600 deer hides for Hides for Habitat

While the number of hides collected is lower compared to last year, the price per hide has gone up.

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Scott Nohre checks the last pallets of collected deer hides on Mark Nohre's property before they are shipped to Wisconsin.
Contributed photo.
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ALEXANDRIA — The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association collected over 600 deer hides this season through its Hides for Habitat program. The club sells the hides to a Wisconsin company and uses the money for environmental conservation efforts and to pay for feed plots.

MDHA has run the hide-collecting program since 1985. In that time it has collected over 900,000 hides raising $5,690,000, according to its website .

Alexandria's MDHA chapter president, Mark Nohre, says locally this year they have collected 649 hides. That's a decline compared to the 785 collected last year.

"I think hunter's success had a bit to do with it (fewer hides)," said Nohre. "Right now, the numbers I am seeing all over is that harvest is down 10, 11% statewide."

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as of Dec. 8, 162,947 total deer have been harvested in 2022. A total of 184,698 were harvested last year so that's an 11.7% decrease.

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While the number of hides collected is low, the price per has gone up from $3.75 in 2021 to $5 this year. A quick calculation shows that $2,943.75 was raised locally in 2021 and $3,245 this year. With fewer hides, MDHA was still able to raise more money.

Along with the hides, tails are also collected. Nohre says this year 475 tails were collected at 60 cents apiece for $285. Last year, it was 31 cents.

In total — with tail and hides combined — the Alexandria chapter raised $3,530.

The hides and tails are sold to North American Fly out of Strum, Wisconsin — a sporting goods company that uses the hides to make deer skin products.

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Blaine Gulbranson loads pallets of deer hides into a semi-trailer to be shipped to Wisconsin.
Contributed photo.

MDHA's website says that the money raised is used to fund various habitat projects locally and throughout the state. The statewide projects are funded through MDHA's Habitat Committee out of its main office in Grand Rapids. The Habitat Committee collects 15% of each chapter to fund these projects. After the 15% is deducted, local chapters use the remaining money to fund their own projects.

Nohre says the Alexandria chapter uses the remaining money for its members to set corn and soybean feed plots on their property which help maintain deer population through harsh winters. Nohre says deer may starve during winter months and feed plots give them a place to go when food is scarce elsewhere.

According to a 2015 MN DNR deer population information packet , "Severe winters can impact deer populations. The ability of deer to accumulate fat reserves in the summer and fall is important to their survival in winter. In quality habitats and in years when acorns and other mast crops (e.g., nuts) are plentiful, deer accumulate fat in the bone marrow, around the internal organs, and under the skin. Throughout winter as snow deepens and food resources are depleted, deer rely primarily on body fat to survive."

The packet says that less than 10% of does die during the winter but fawns and does older than 5 years old are most likely to die during winter.

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Next year, when dropping off hides, Nohre says, "Only hides. No legs. No heads. And we really appreciate when (hunters) don't put them in black plastic bags."

He said on hot days in the bags, it doesn't take long for hides to rot which will make them unsellable and will have to be thrown away. He added that not a single hide was thrown away this year.

Nohre collects the hides from drop-off spots located from Miltona to Alexandria. He said there were 12 drop-off locations for the local chapter.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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