St. Paul — A perceived lack of deer has been a common refrain so far this firearms season, but on the whole, the season has been similar to last year.
Through Monday, hunters had killed 128,814 deer, which is down 6 percent from the same time last year, when hunters had killed 137,516 deer. (The kill after opening weekend was 4 percent below last year.)
The season is now closed in zones 2 and 3. The late season in Zone 3 opens Saturday, while the Zone 1 season closes Sunday.
Leslie McInenly, the DNR big game program leader, figures the firearms kill will be similar to last year, when hunters killed 155,689 deer, which was the fewest since 1998.
“I’ve been a little frustrated with our weekend weather (this year), but overall (the season) is pretty similar to last year,” she said.
The buck kill is down 5 percent statewide, while the antlerless deer kill is down 7 percent, McInenly said.
The kill in the 100 series of permit areas is down even more. The antlerless kill there, for example, is 25 percent below last year. There were fewer either-sex licenses in that part of the state, anyway, and regulations in the bovine tuberculosis area – Permit Area 101 – are far more restrictive than they’ve been in recent years.
DNR officials believed deer numbers were lower in the northeast as a result of last winter, but, “the winter severity may have hit harder than we expected,” McInenly said.
She said she’s heard from some hunters who’ve been disappointed in their deer seasons. Hunters in the north tend to be the ones who believe deer numbers are down; she’s hearing more from people who hunt there than those who hunt in the central or southern portions of the state.
Following are conservation officer reports from throughout the state:
- The harvest appeared to be below average in the Roseau area.
- Hunters in the Thief River Falls area encountered challenging hunting conditions and killed fewer deer than previous years.
- Many parties in the Detroit Lakes area went home without a deer.
- Both hunting pressure and the harvest were limited in the Longville area.
- Some hunters in the Tower area didn’t see any deer, and a common refrain from hunters was that they saw more wolves than deer.
- Harvest in the Tofte area was down, which provoked complaints from many hunters.
- Hunters in the Crosslake area reported better success the second weekend than the first weekend.
- Success was average in the Albany area.
- There were lots of hunters in the Center City area the second weekend, but they didn’t kill many deer.
- The deer harvest in the Hutchinson area dropped off after opening weekend.
- There were nice deer taken in the Wabasha area, and the antler-point restrictions are “obviously paying off,” reported CO Kevin Prodzinski.
- Many hunters in the Red Wing area commented about the lack of deer activity.
- Most hunters in the Rushford area seemed happy with their hunts.