REGIONAL— Deer registrations across northern St. Louis and Lake counties were down 42 percent, according to preliminary numbers provided by the Tower Area DNR wildlife office. Those figures include …
REGIONAL— Deer registrations across northern St. Louis and Lake counties were down 42 percent, according to preliminary numbers provided by the Tower Area DNR wildlife office. Those figures include permit areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132, 176, 177, and 178.
Fewer antlerless permits accounted for some of the decline, while a 21-percent drop in the buck harvest contributed as well. Hunters faced challenging conditions throughout much of the season, with an unseasonably chilly start followed by heavy snow for the final week of the season. A tougher-than-average winter the year before also contributed to significant deer mortality and likely limited fawn production.
While most permit areas saw significant declines in deer registrations, hunters in permit area 108, which encompasses much of northwestern St. Louis County and most of Koochiching County, registered 1,071 deer. That’s roughly on par with the 1,085 deer harvested there in 2018.
Bucks accounted for 82 percent of the harvest in the DNR’s Tower work area, which reflects the limited number of antlerless tags issued this year. Only permit area 177, which encompasses agricultural areas near Cook and the shores of Lake Vermilion offered hunters the option of taking either sex.
According to Tower area wildlife manager Tom Rusch, the more conservative bag limit was part of an effort to help recover the deer herd in most parts of the North Country after a number of recent winters proved harsher than average for deer. Whitetail deer are generally considered to be near their northern limit in northeastern Minnesota and can experience significant winter mortality in the region as a result of intense cold and sustained deep snow.
Statewide, hunters had registered a total of 169,869 deer as of this week. Bucks comprised 55 percent of that harvest, while 45 percent were antlerless.