Deer harvest up 44%, bucks up 21%

The final Tower area deer tally is in and although the numbers are preliminary, the harvest is definitely on the way back up after a series of poor years.
In north St. Louis and Lake counties, deer registration is up 44% compared to 2015.
“The deer herd has again demonstrated its ability to rebound from severe winters, similar to the late 1990’s, given conservative antlerless harvest, good habitat and mild winters,” said DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch.
Seven out of nine permit areas showed registration increases, one permit area (BWCA) showed a decline and one had no change (Isabella).
“Three factors drove increased hunter success: a young, growing deer population, antlerless deer permit availability, most permit areas were bucks only in 2015, and October-like weather conducive to stand hunting success,” said Rusch.
Buck harvest, the best indicator of population change, was up 21%. Buck harvest has increased 40% over the past two years in the Tower Area.
“The majority of bucks were 18-month old spikes and forkhorns born following the mild winters in the last 2 years,” said Rusch.
Antlerless harvest increased significantly (167 to 1561) as most local permit areas were “bucks only” the previous two years. The DNR reports 19% of the total harvest were antlerless deer.
The majority of the 2016 season benefited from extremely mild November weather 20 degrees above normal
“Only the last weekend was impacted by a snowstorm and/or high winds which negatively impact harvest,” said Rusch. “Record warm temperatures increased hunter effort and success until the third weekend, when it was very low.”
The strongest registration was on the west end of the Tower Area in permit areas 178, 176, 108 and 177.
Hunters report seeing lots of does, fawns and young bucks as the population rebounds from the extreme winters of 2013 and 2014.
Zone 100 harvest increased 27% and buck harvest increased 20% with 75% of the harvest being adult bucks.