Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Deer harvest continues to lag 2018 numbers

Registrations in the North Country off 26 percent over last year

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 11/19/19

REGIONAL— Deer registrations across northern and central St. Louis, northern Lake, and Koochiching counties continue to run substantially behind last year after the second weekend of the 16-day …

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Deer harvest continues to lag 2018 numbers

Registrations in the North Country off 26 percent over last year

Posted

REGIONAL— Deer registrations across northern and central St. Louis, northern Lake, and Koochiching counties continue to run substantially behind last year after the second weekend of the 16-day regular firearms deer season.

The total deer harvest is down 26 percent across the region, although that is likely attributable, at least in part, to the reduction in antlerless tags issued by the Department of Natural Resources. But even the buck harvest is down by 10.5 percent through the same point in the season last year.

Those figures, which are all preliminary, include permit areas in the Timberjay coverage area, specifically PAs 108, 117, 118, 119, 130, 176, 177, and 178.

Bucks comprised 79 percent of the harvest in the region as a result of the lower number of antlerless tags. But the lower number of antlerless tags was not the sole reason for the decline. In PA 177, where hunters once again had the choice to take a deer of either sex, hunters registered 908 deer, down 25 percent over the 1,215 deer registered during the same period last year.

“Hunters reported a mixed bag of deer activity depending on the day and the weather,” said Tom Rusch, DNR Tower area wildlife manager.  “Some hunters reported bucks chasing does and breeding pairs.  Other hunters reported minimal deer activity with most of it occurring at night.” 

 The weather and field conditions in the region were pretty typical for mid-November after the cold front moved through mid-week.  Most days were in the 20s and 30s with the high temperatures reaching into the 40s this past weekend.  “Nights were cool and a skiff of snow remained to improve visibility,” said Rusch. “Swamps and low areas remained frozen which greatly improved access compared to early fall conditions.” 

The cold weather conditions that greeted hunters for much of the opening week significantly impacted hunter effort, reducing stand time for many hunters, and ultimately harvest, said Rusch.  “That was a huge factor considering the decline in harvest over opening weekend, when the majority of hunters are in the woods.”  

 Statewide, hunters had registered 153,643 deer including 86,533 (56 percent) bucks and 67,110 antlerless deer. With lower hunting pressure and the tail end of rutting activity continuing into the last weekend, Rusch predicts that hunting should be good for those hunters still in the woods. 

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Snowshoe2

At one time like pre-1970 the northern woods produced 80% of the deer kill in Minnesota. Times have changed and from Ely to Longville(area 172) two years in a row the kill is down 33% each year. This should not have to continue.

The DNR management plan for each deer zone and talks of increasing populations or maintaining populations at pre 2014 levels. 2014 deer populations that year were close to 50 year lows. That is not acceptable and hunters,DNR and Deer associations should realize this and correct this.

Logging is good for deer populations but not 40-80 acre clear cuts-it does wildlife zero good. Also some areas where oak is prevalent this year 80 acres of pure 150 year old acorn producing Oak have been clear cut. There gone for almost ever. This is getting much more common.

DNR own study has said you should have about 14 deer per sq mile pre fawn if you have a wolf population and moderate hunter kill. Any lower your population trends downward. Well were trending downward.

Yes population modeling has also failed at the St.Paul level. Time to listen to local or area DNR wildlife opinion again. That is why they were hired.

Deer are precious to the north country.

Wednesday, November 20