Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Deer reports good in the north, mixed in the south

Staff Writer

Isle, Minn. A sampling of select registration sites revealed
that 2002 firearms deer hunter success appeared comparable to the
early stages of 2001, thanks to an increase of antlerless permits.
Many permit areas received management and intensive harvest tags
for the first time, which boosted harvest totals at many
registration stations.

At Johnson’s Portside, north of Isle, Steve Johnson registered
twice as many deer this year than by Tuesday morning a year ago.
Many hunters took advantage of additional antlerless tags in this
area of Zone 1. These tags weren’t available last season, so a
better harvest was expected.

“The number of antlerless deer brought in compared to last year
was amazing,” Johnson said. “There’s no question that the increase
in permits is the main reason for it.”

Johnson said he expects harvest totals to continue rising
throughout the season.

“There’s a lot of deer around here,” he said. “I suspect that
many hunters who had antlerless tags still held back from shooting
a doe this weekend. I assume they’ll use them this week if they
haven’t already.”

At Chalstrom’s Bait Shop in Duluth, 380 deer had been brought in
by Tuesday morning, which was down just a bit from last year.
Hunting reports have been mixed, but the number of big deer
registered appears to be up from last year, according to Sue
Chalstrom.

“I don’t know what it is, but we’re seeing a lot of huge bucks
taken,” Chalstrom said. “I’m seeing heavier deer and many more
racks with thick antler mass this season.”

The largest buck registered in Chalstrom’s Annual Big Buck
Contest tipped the scales at 250 pounds. The 10th-place buck
weighed 195 pounds, and numerous deer in the 180- to 190-pound
class also have been registered.

“It’s just amazing seeing the number of big bucks brought in
this year,” Chalstrom said.

Fewer, but bigger deer, have also been the case throughout the
southeastern region of the state. One of the busiest registration
sites near Whitewater, Mauer Brother’s Tavern, has registered fewer
deer than a year ago, but there have been quite a few big bucks
harvested.

“The numbers aren’t as good, but the quality is better than last
season,” said Jim Mauer. “We have some catching up to do if we want
to reach last year’s harvest totals.”

Deer hunters in southwestern Minnesota seem to be harvesting
fewer deer than they did last season, despite an abundance of
antlerless permits, which included a few areas that offered
intensive harvest permits.

“I expected a better hunt than what we’ve had,” said Jeff Byrne
of Cabin Fever Sports in Victoria. “Many hunters are saying that
they’re just not seeing many deer.”

Byrne had registered just 25 deer by Tuesday morning, which was
down considerably from last year. While an abundance of standing
corn might be to blame, Byrne is more apt to think that deer
numbers might not be as strong as previously predicted in this
area.

“The corn is an issue, but it’s not that big of a deal. You
should still see some deer and many hunters just aren’t seeing
anything,” Byrne said. “The bowhunters didn’t see many deer leading
up to the gun season, and this weekend was poor.”

He also pointed out that many hunters weren’t so quick to point
to standing corn as the problem.

“I know some groups of hunters that worked their tail off this
weekend pushing corn fields and they still didn’t see many
deer.”

Near Maple Lake, Jim Churchill of H&H Sports Shop said
registration numbers are up a bit from last year, but reports were
mixed.

“A few groups did very well and others didn’t have anything,”
Churchill said. “It kind of goes that way every year.”

Churchill acknowledged that there’s still plenty of deer hunting
season left, and he expects good results for the remainder of the
season. He points to an increase in rutting activity and farmers
who are very busy removing crops to provide more shooting
opportunities for deer hunters during the rest of the season.

“I expect a better second weekend,” he said. “It could be very
good if crops continue coming out and the weather cooperates.”

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