Firearms deer harvest down

The final numbers are in for the 2018 Tower Area firearms deer harvest.
After what was predicted to be a good year for hunters, the harvest was down in the Tower Area by 2.1 percent. This includes northern St. Louis and Lake Counties including Permit Areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132 176, 177 and 178.
DNR Tower Area Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch said the harvest was impacted by a number of factors.
• An early opener(Nov. 3 is the second earliest opening date), reduced deer activity during daylight hours and cold temperatures likely impacted hunter effort.
• Hunters reported a mixed bag of deer activity. Buck activity improved over the second and third weekends. Some hunters reported rutting activity while other hunters reported minimal deer activity with most of it occurring at night.
• Many hunters reported poor deer movement, especially opening weekend, which historically accounts for a majority of the deer harvest.
• The weather in northern St. Louis County was ideal for hunting most days, with cold nights in the single digits/teens and days in the teens and 20s. Inclement weather was generally not a negative factor affecting hunting opportunity.
• Snow cover was 2-4” on the ground for most of the season.
• Temperatures were below average but also conducive to deer movement. This may have reduced time on the stand for some hunters.
• This was likely the coldest overall deer season in many years.
• Harvest declined the most in the moose range. The combination of a tougher winter in 2018 and increased harvest in 2017 likely impacted these permit areas.
The harvest in northeast Minnesota was down 13.6 percent from 2017 in what is known as Zone 100. Statewide the harvest was down eight percent. Also, license sales in the Tower area were down 1.6 percent.