Hunters venturing out for the opening weekend of deer season will have tolerable temperatures — at least by this week’s standards — and there’s even a chance of tracking snow Saturday.

Deer season opens at noon Friday, Nov. 8, in North Dakota and a half-hour before sunrise Saturday, Nov. 9, in Minnesota.

According to the National Weather Service, Friday’s Grand Forks forecast calls for partly sunny skies with a high of 35 degrees. South winds of 6 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon could gust as high as 18 mph.

Saturday, there’s a 40% chance of snow with a high of 32 degrees and west-northwest winds of 6 to 10 mph.

Highs in the teens, with lows in the single digits — ugh — are on tap from Sunday through Tuesday, the NWS predicts.

Despite the recent cold snap, hunters in some areas may encounter muddy, wet conditions, the result of an extremely wet fall and persistent precipitation that began in late September.

Gretchen Mehmel, manager of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area at Norris Camp south of Roosevelt, Minn., said 4 inches of snow on the ground as of Tuesday, Nov. 5, will only add to the challenge in the WMA and adjacent Beltrami Island State Forest.

“Make sure you build time in this year for scouting,” Mehmel said. “Be aware that you may not be able to turn a vehicle around if an area is impassable, so walking might be the best option in many cases.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates trail conditions after 2 p.m. Thursdays on its website at mndnr.gov/trailconditions/index.html.

CWD testing drop sitesEastern North Dakota is on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s rotating schedule of testing for chronic wasting disease during this year’s deer gun season. The brain disease is fatal to deer, elk and moose.

In Grand Forks, the UND Chapter of the Wildlife Society is overseeing a drop site at the Grand Forks Gun Club, 6950 Gateway Drive, where bins will be set up for hunters to drop off deer heads.

The Game and Fish Department will collect the heads every Monday and take them to Bismarck, where staff will remove lymph nodes and send them to a lab at Colorado State University for testing.

Drop sites in northeast North Dakota also will be set up in Devils Lake, Grafton, Park River, Reynolds and Walhalla. Results should be available in two to three weeks, the department said.

CWD hasn’t been found in eastern North Dakota, but 17 cases have been confirmed statewide since 2009, first in Unit 3F2 in the south-central part of the state and, more recently, in Unit 3A1 in far northwest North Dakota. The first case in the Badlands was confirmed in September, when a mule deer buck taken during the first part of the archery season in Unit 4B tested positive.

A full listing of drop sites across the state is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Low attendance

The second round of open house whitetail sessions the Minnesota DNR hosted in August and early September as part of its statewide deer management plan were poorly attended, at least in the northwest part of the state.

According to the DNR, no one attended meetings in Karlstad and Roseau, Minn., and meetings in Bemidji and Crookston drew two people and one person, respectively. The largest crowd in the DNR’s Northwest Region was in Warroad, Minn., where 14 people attended an Aug. 13 meeting with managers of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area.

The open house sessions are slated for twice a year, with a focus on “general concerns about deer, harvest data, topics for the DNR’s deer advisory committee and upcoming hunting season changes,” the DNR website states.

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