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Northeast Minnesota deer hunt down 14.1%

Nov 25, 2018 03:51PM ● By Editor

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - November 25, 2018

Northeastern Minnesota's firearms deer season turned out to be less successful than anticipated, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday, with the 16-day harvest down 14.1 percent.

The preliminary total harvest for the 100-numbered deer management areas, which includes all of Northeastern Minnesota, hit 49,303 this year compared to 57,363 last year.

Statewide preliminary numbers show the harvest down from 160,962 last year to 148,019 this year, an 8 percent drop. The statewide buck harvest was down 8 percent as well.

So far, Minnesota archery hunters have taken 15,688 deer, up 7.1 percent from last year. With all seasons combined hunters have killed 169,727 deer this year compared to 181,216 at this time last year.

Minnesota muzzleloader season is still on, but, even with those deer added in, and deer from the southeastern Minnesota season that ends today, it's not likely the total harvest will top 200,000 as wildlife managers predicted.

It's still unclear why the harvest was down, especially for the first weekend of the season, when most deer are taken. License sales were off about 2.4 percent by the end of the season, said Erik Thorson, interim big game program leader, which would explain some of the drop in harvest.

"We have heard from hunters in the Northeast and some wildlife managers that deer were not moving much especially early on. It was the earliest opener we could have so maybe the rut hadn't started yet,'' Thorson said. "But it's a little perplexing, really. I'm not sure why it's off."

It's also possible that some deer were shot but not registered because of changes in the online and phone deer registration system that required a new log-in effort by hunters.

"We understand some people were having problems getting that done, but it's hard to know if that was an influence on the total (harvest) or not,'' Thorson said.

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