Thursday, February 29th, 2024

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Thursday, February 29th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Minnesota’s total deer harvest down 7% from 2022 through Nov. 19

Assuming hunters and harvest stay on pace, that would place the year’s final deer kill in the 167,000 range. Last year’s final deer harvest in Minnesota was 172,265, down 7% from 2021. (Stock photo by John Harlan)

St. Paul — The firearms deer kill in Minnesota struggled to gain ground through the season’s third weekend, and the DNR reports that cumulative statewide deer harvest across all seasons is down 7% from 2022.

As the northeast’s 16-day season wrapped up on Sunday, Nov. 19, the cumulative white-tailed deer kill through all seasons was 142,142. In addition to being behind last year, that’s 14% below the five-year mean and 10% off the 10-year mean. That tally includes bowhunting harvest through last weekend. 

Archery deer season continues through the end of the year. In addition, the 3B firearms season that began last Saturday in the southeast ends on Sunday, Nov. 26. The statewide muzzleloader deer hunt begins this Saturday, Nov. 25 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 10. 

A Minnesota buck shot on Nov. 19, 2023, with a bow. Archery deer season continues through the end of the year in Minnesota. (Photo by Eric Morken)

With those hunting opportunities still remaining, DNR Big Game Program Coordinator Todd Froberg estimated that total deer harvest for the year is about 85% complete. Assuming hunters and harvest stay on pace, that would place the year’s final deer kill in the 167,000 range. Last year’s final deer harvest in Minnesota was 172,265, down 7% from 2021.

Strictly firearms kill thus far in Minnesota through this past Sunday is at 112,636. It was 119,715 through the same day last year, so about a 6% decline.

During its 16-day season, the northeast region saw a 22,180 deer kill, an 18% drop from last year, and that’s 35% off the five-year mean, Froberg said. He called the decline unfortunate, but not a big surprise given the drop in doe permits across the region. The DNR has attributed the decline in deer kill across the region to several severe winters, deteriorating habitat, and a growing predator load of wolves and black bears.

“We have fewer antlerless permits in the area in an effort to be more conservative and decrease harvest,” he said. “That said, the majority of that decline is because of low deer densities and a lack of deer.”

The southwest portion of the state produced a harvest of 17,992 deer during its nine-day season, which ended Sunday, Nov. 12. That tally was .3% behind 2022 and 1.9% behind the five-year mean.

“I would call that the only surprising region. The others were on par with expectations,” he said. “I expected the southwest to have better harvest.”

And neither hunters nor the DNR can blame poor weather for the lower kill. Perfect firearms deer hunting conditions greeted hunters early in the season and borderline balmy skies covered the state last week.

“Weather-wise, we have nothing to complain about,” Froberg said. “It’s been great weather with a couple of warm days in 70s last week in the southeast.”

License update

According to sales figures available on Tuesday, Nov. 21, the DNR issued 405,454 firearms licenses through Monday. That’s a 3% decline from 2022 and the lowest total for the date this century. The state sold 474,751 deer licenses by the same date as recently as 2012.

Minnesota could sell a few more gun licenses during the last seven days of the 3B hunt. Through Monday, preliminary sales of muzzleloader tags were up 1% from a year ago.

CWD update

A third deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease in 2023, a yearling doe in Polk County within Deer Permit Area 661, one of the state’s CWD management zones.

A hunter-harvested deer taken on Nov. 5, it’s only the second positive found within DPA 661, and it was killed north of the first positive in the Red River bottomlands south of East Grand Forks. The DPA’s first positive, a buck, was taken in October 2021.

The positive deer brings the state’s total number of wild CWD-infected since 2010 to 219.

Wisconsin deer kill update

The Wisconsin DNR on Tuesday announced the preliminary deer harvest and license sale totals for the opening weekend of its 2023 gun deer season, which began Saturday Nov. 18.

In total, hunters registered 92,050 deer statewide during the opening weekend, compared to 103,623 registered for the same period in 2022. That’s a 16% decrease from 2022 and 10% below the five-year average. The WDNR said the majority of the decrease was due to a decline in antlerless deer harvest. A total of 51,870 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 56,638 in 2022, a 13% decrease from 2022.

As of midnight Sunday, Nov. 19, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and conservation patron licenses reached 774,369. Of that total, 421,525 were for gun privileges only. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses were down 0.61% from the same time in 2022.

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