REGIONAL— Deer hunters posted somewhat better numbers in the final week of this year’s firearms deer season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome lower-than-expected results from earlier in the …
REGIONAL— Deer hunters posted somewhat better numbers in the final week of this year’s firearms deer season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome lower-than-expected results from earlier in the season. And that means hunters will likely fall well short of a statewide goal to harvest 200,000 whitetail deer this year.
As of the end of the regular firearms season in most parts of the state, hunters had registered 148,020 deer, down about eight percent from the same period last year. In northeastern Minnesota, the harvest was down 14 percent, the largest decline of any region in the state.
Through the final day of the regular firearms deer season, hunters in northeastern Minnesota, or Zone 100, had registered 49,303 deer, including 27,715 bucks. Last year, as of the end of the season, the hunters in Zone 100 had registered 57,363 deer, including 31,844 bucks.
Locally, hunter success was somewhat better, according to DNR Tower Area Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch. In the Tower work area, the total harvest was off by just two percent. The buck harvest was down one percent, while the antlerless take was four percent lower.
It’s not entirely clear why the harvest was down this year. After four straight relatively mild winters, DNR wildlife officials loosened bag limits in anticipation of a strong harvest.
Wildlife officials blamed an earlier-than-average opener, which timed the opening weekend ahead of peak deer movement, for the slow start to the harvest.
Deer movement appeared to improve as the season wore on, which allowed hunters to recover some ground despite very cold temperatures and snow that settled in for the second and third weekends of the season.
Despite more deer activity, hunters couldn’t make up for the slow start to the season. Generally, regular firearms hunters harvest about 70 percent of their deer during the first four days of the season.