ST. PAUL -- Minnesota firearms deer hunters had bagged and registered 58,370 deer over opening weekend of the 2021 season, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources data.
That’s down 11 % from 2020, which was an unusually slow opening weekend, and down 15% from the five-year average for opening weekend.
The harvest in the 100-series management areas, which includes all of northeastern Minnesota, sat at 13,222 after the first two days, down 20 % from last year. The 200 series units were down 10% from last year, while the 300, 600 and 700 units were up 10%.
Generally, about half the deer shot during a Minnesota firearms deer season are taken over opening weekend, which would put this year’s firearms harvest at about 120,000. The DNR has a general goal of 200,000 deer taken by firearms, archery and muzzleloader by the time seasons end in December.
Many hunters reported very little deer movement over the weekend, which saw temperatures well into the 60s across northern Minnesota.
“My guess is that the warm weather this weekend played a role in lower harvest,’’ said Barb Keller, the DNR’s big game program leader. “Although 2020 conditions were also very warm. But perhaps hunters (last year) were more motivated to participate given the pandemic. License sales have been the same as last year, though. Hopefully, we will make it up during the remainder of the season.”
Meanwhile total deer hunting licenses of all types sold through opening weekend hit 398,717. That’s down 1% from 402,629 last year and down 11% from more than 446,000 sold in 2012, the highest license sales of the past 20 years.
The firearms season in the 100-series management areas continues through Nov. 21.