Most hunters to have one-deer limit
For several years, hunters in many parts of the state — including southeastern Minnesota — have been saying that they aren't seeing enough deer.
On Wednesday, officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made it clear that they've heard those concerns and are taking them seriously — so seriously, in fact, that the upcoming deer season will be the most restrictive in decades, with most hunters being allowed to take just one deer.
Leslie McInenly, big-game program leader for the DNR, said in a press release: "Many hunters voiced concerns about current deer densities and their hunting experiences in recent years. We heard from hunters at the listening sessions we conducted, in the online comments we solicited and by contacting us directly. This past winter only added to those concerns so this year's conservative approach will protect more antlerless deer, reduce the statewide harvest and allow the population to rebound."
Thousands of hunters in the southeast region will be affected by the DNR's attempt to increase the deer population.
In the Rochester area, which lies within permit area 343, hunters still will be allowed to shoot up to two deer, including one buck, because this area is still classified as "managed." And in permit areas 346 and 349, which is the extreme southeast corner of the state, hunters will be able to shoot up to five deer, the same as last year, because these areas continue to have deer populations that are above the DNR's targets.
In the rest of Zone 3 however, including permit areas 338, 339, 341, 342, 344, 345, 347 and 348, hunters will be allowed to shoot just one deer, either a buck or an antlerless deer. The "Hunter's Choice" designation in these permit areas is a big departure from last year, when most of Zone 3 was designated as "managed."
Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager for the DNR, said in a conference call Wednesday that the statewide deer harvest is likely to plummet in 2014. "We're going to see a very significant reduction in harvest. I think it will be as low a harvest as we've seen for a long, long time, possibly below 150,000, or even below 120,000."
Last year, hunters shot 171,000 deer, which was the lowest harvest since 1998.
'One hunter, one deer' returns to much of Minnesota