N.E. Minnesota hunters take fewer deer so far this season
McClatchy-Tribune News Services
DULUTH — Deer hunters in Northeastern Minnesota shot about 24 percent fewer deer in the first three days of the firearms season than they did last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Many hunters have said deer haven’t been moving much, and windy weather on opening weekend made it harder for hunters to stay in their stands for extended periods. Most hunters said they haven’t heard as many shots in the woods as they usually have in recent years.
"It’s kind of what I expected," said Rich Staffon, DNR area wildlife manager at Cloquet, who has hunted three days so far this fall. "It sure felt like that."
In the Cloquet area, covering Pine, Carlton and southern St. Louis County, the harvest was down 24 percent, too. The Grand Rapids area was down 14 percent, the International Falls area down 26 percent, the Two Harbors area down 21 percent, the Tower area down 20 percent and the Aitkin area down 21 percent.
"It looks like the blustery weather over opening weekend hurt, and there wasn’t enough snow to help," Staffon said.
At God’s Country Outfitters north of Grand Rapids, this year’s registrations were just under last year’s for opening weekend, said Linda Loucks. This year, hunters registered 310 deer opening weekend, and last year they registered 324, according to the shop’s own figures.
"We’re on track for another 900 to 1,000 deer this year," Loucks said. "That’ll put us right in there with some of our better years."
The harvest is also just under last year’s as of today at Chalstrom’s Bait and Tackle north of Duluth, said Larry Davey. So far, hunters had registered about 650 deer through this morning this year, compared to 687 last year.
Staffon said he thinks the deer population is high, but no longer increasing as it had in the past.
"I think the deer are there," he said. "I wasn’t expecting an increase 1/8in harvest 3/8 but something similar to last year."
Minnesota’s firearms deer season opened Saturday and continues through Nov. 23 in Northeastern Minnesota.