It’s hardly surprising, given the anecdotal reports I heard from opening weekend, but the deer kill after the first three days of season in Minnesota was down about 19 percent from last year.
Hunters had registered about 73,000 deer after the first three days, compared with 91,000 last year.
Wildlife managers attributed the high winds that blew during the opener for at least part of the decline — especially since the archery harvest is comparable to last year.
“When the wind is up deer activity greatly declines,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager fo the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Cornicelli noted deer move less and are less predictable when their hearing and scenting ability is adversely affected by strong winds. “The lower than expected harvest is linked to tough hunting conditions due to the high winds across much of the state on opening weekend.”
John Williams, assistant regional wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji, said he didn’t have any numbers from the first three days in northwest Minnesota, but all indications are that hunter success followed the statewide trend.
Williams said the wind definitely was a factor in the area he hunted, but populations are down from recent years, too.
“Our first three days of season are pretty critical for deer harvest, and I think it’s going to be down significantly,” Williams said.
The opener also was quiet in North Dakota, where the season got underway at noon Friday.