Deer harvest down 10 percent in Northeastern Minnesota, down only slightly in CloquetPreliminary numbers from the first three days of firearms deer hunting in Northeastern Minnesota don't surprise Department of Natural Resources officials, who expected the harvest to be down a bit this fall.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
Preliminary numbers are in from the first three days of firearms deer hunting in Northeastern Minnesota, and the harvest is down substantially across the region, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Overall, the region’s harvest was down 16 percent compared to last fall, and last fall’s totals from the same time period were down 24 percent from 2007.
By area, the harvest was down as much as 36 percent in the International Falls area to 2 percent in the Cloquet area. Here are all the area numbers:
Aitkin — Down 10 percent
Brainerd — Down 20 percent
Cloquet — Down 2 percent
Tower — Down 21 percent
Grand Rapids — Down 27 percent
International Falls — Down 36 percent
Two Harbors — Down 10 percent
A preliminary total of 23,468 deer were registered in the first three days of the season, which opened Saturday. That compares to 27,860 in the first three days last year, a difference of 4,392.
“I’m really surprised by those numbers,” said Rich Staffon, DNR area wildlife manager at Cloquet. “Where I was [in Fond du Lac State Forest, near Cloquet], I thought things were going pretty good. I heard a fair amount of shooting.”
Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids, said he wasn’t “totally surprised” by the decrease in harvest.
“We expected our harvest to come down,” Lightfoot said. “I am surprised with the degree to which it has come down, particularly in the International Falls area. But that’s where we saw some of our highest WSI [Winter Severity Index] numbers as well.”
Usually, the first three days’ harvest is indicative of how the whole season’s harvest will be, Lightfoot said. But that wasn’t the case last year. After a 24 percent decline in the first three days, the final harvest in Northeastern Minnesota was down 19 percent.
Staffon thought that perhaps the final numbers for this year could be even lower than the first three days indicate. Because the weather was so warm, many hunters brought deer back to be processed sooner than they might have if the weather had been cool.
Statewide, the harvest after the first three days was down about 5 percent, primarily because the number of antlerless deer taken was down 14 percent.
DNR officials expected the harvest to be down a bit this fall, as deer populations have been reduced to meet population goals and the number of antlerless permits issued has been reduced.
Minnesota’s firearms deer season continues through Nov. 22.