This comes as no surprise, given many of the reports I’ve heard, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported today that hunters killed 77,008 deer during the first three days of firearms season, down 8 percent from last year.
Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader, said she wasn’t surprised by the slightly smaller harvest, either.
“Last year, opening weekend weather was almost ideal, and the state’s corn harvest was virtually complete, she said in a statement. “So given Saturday’s roaring winds of up to 30 miles per hour, which tends to restrict deer movement, and more available deer refuge areas due to pockets of standing corn, the harvest is about what you’d expect.”
In some areas, she said, about a fourth of the corn crop was not yet harvested.
The DNR had sold 445,385 firearms deer licenses as of Monday, about 1,000 fewer than last year but roughly 10,000 more than 2011.
Around the state, opening day hunting conditions included snow in the north and gusty winds and overcast skies most everywhere, turning nicer on Sunday. The harvest was down 19 percent in the northeast, 4 percent in the southeast and 6 percent for the remainder of the state. Because hunters have 48 hours to register a harvested deer, final opening weekend numbers for 2013 will be greater than those reported today.
With improving weather conditions this week, the DNR still expects the final 2013 deer kill to be similar to last year when hunters shot about 185,000 deer.
The firearms season continues through Sunday for all but northeast Minnesota, which extends until Nov. 24. There is also a late southeast firearms season that runs Nov. 23-Dec. 1.
The DNR reminds hunters who shoot a deer to tag it at the kill site. Also, new this year, hunters are required to register their deer within 48 hours after harvest and before processing.
North Dakota doesn’t require hunters to register their deer, instead mailing a survey to a random sample of hunters during the winter. That means harvest estimates for this year’s North Dakota deer season won’t be available until sometime next spring. The Game and Fish Department this year offered 59,500 deer gun licenses, the fewest since 1983.