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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Deer harvest down sharply over 2019

Lower deer numbers and record warmth create challenging conditions for hunters

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 11/11/20

REGIONAL— Record warm temperatures and lower deer numbers combined to stymie hunters across the North Country during the opening weekend of the Minnesota firearms deer season.In fact, hunters …

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Deer harvest down sharply over 2019

Lower deer numbers and record warmth create challenging conditions for hunters

Posted

REGIONAL— Record warm temperatures and lower deer numbers combined to stymie hunters across the North Country during the opening weekend of the Minnesota firearms deer season.
In fact, hunters in all of Zone 100, which encompasses all of northeastern and east-central Minnesota, registered just 13,660 deer during the first two days of the season. That’s down 28 percent from last year and 27 percent from the five-year mean.
Statewide, hunters registered just 59,711 deer over the first two days, which typically accounts for about half of the annual firearms deer harvest. At that rate, the statewide deer harvest is expected to finish up around 120,000, or far below the Department of Natural Resources’ stated goal of 200,000.
“Unseasonably warm temperatures reaching into the low 70s negatively impacted daytime deer activity and harvest on both Saturday and Sunday,” said Tom Rusch, Tower DNR area wildlife manager. “A low deer population and low numbers of antlerless deer permits resulting in a “bucks only” season for the majority of hunters.”
While results by permit area were not available, the DNR did make a map of the deer harvest density, which shows the lowest harvest levels in the North Country.

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Snowshoe2

Time to reevaluate methods used to determine populations. Most of the 100 series of deer zones have populations of about 25% of what they had around 2003 or the 1960's. Up to the harsh winter of 1969 deer populations were so much higher from International Falls to Ely than now.

Around 1968 you could go down the Mud lake road on the east side of Vermillion lake and numerous deer camps, some DNR estimates were as much as 200 deer were killed. Now? Probably one.

Wolves have to be controlled in moderation and better estimates of present deer populations have to be determined so a more reasonable season can be set.

Friday, November 13
Immer Treue

From 2000-2008 we had a series of mild winters, the deer population grew, despite wolves. We haven’t had a stretch of mild winters like that since. Maintain a suppressed deer population, it will help pine regeneration and in the long run help moose.

As an aside, what impact does the continual feeding of deer, by people, have on local deer population distribution? What impact has spruce budworm had on shelter for deer during the winter? Wolves have always had a proportionate impact on deer populations. A rush to hunt wolves is not rational.

Monday, November 16
Snowshoe2

MN DNR studies have shown in many areas when pre fawn population gets below 13 deer/sq mile human hunting pressure and wolf predation is enough to cause further decline in deer populations. When a severe winter comes along it is just one more event that will add to the cumulative decline in deer populations. Maybe if one of the three was not happening populations of deer could grow.

A well managed limited wolf hunt will help Moose populations also. At present we have 2500 wolves in the fall and almost double that after pups are born(yes mortality on pups is high at times). The endangered species act called for a population goal of 1,250 and than delisting. We don't want to misuse the Endangered species act either.

The last wolf hunts of 400 wolves really had almost zero impact on wolf populations but did help maybe get some wolf groups from getting so tame to human fear.

Wednesday, November 18