Deer harvest down heading into final weekend
by Nick Wognum
Make no mistake, the 2020 deer season will go down as one of the tougher ones for firearms deer hunters.
The 2020 deer harvest is down 17.2% compared to 2019 in the nine Deer Permit Areas within the Tower DNR Area (117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132, 176, 177, 178).
DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch said the buck kill, the best indicator of population change over time, is down 16.4% in the same permit areas
Buck kill is down the highest in permit areas on the north and east end of the Tower area consistent with winter severity and deep snow winters over the last eight years.
In permit area 118, which encompasses much of the Ely area, there were 557 bucks shot at this point last year compared to 419 this year, a drop of 33 percent.
Buck kill is down the least in the more productive deer permit areas to the south and west consistent with winter severity and deep snow winters over the last eight years.
Antlerless kill was down 20.3% compared to 2019 in the nine deer permit areas within the Tower area.
“Hunting conditions improved considerably since the record setting temperatures experienced on opening weekend,” said Rusch.
“Opening weekend was at the tail end of the warmest week on record in Minnesota in November,” said Rusch. “Hunting conditions improved drastically with five to nine inches of fresh snow and a 35 degree drop in temperature.
To put it another way, there was a 90 degree difference in temperature from opening weekend Sunday in 2019 (-16 degrees) and 2020 (74 degrees).
Colder temperatures improved day time rutting activity but the numbers are still down.
The 2020 firearms deer season will end tomorrow, wrapping up 16 days of hunting.
The muzzleloader season will start Nov. 28 and run for 16 days,
Archery season for deer continues through the end of December.
Minnesota deer and hunting facts
• Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 pounds, and males weigh about 170 pounds.
• A whitetail’s home range is about 1 square mile.
• The biggest white-tailed deer recorded in Minnesota was a 500-pound buck.
• Last year, 31% of Minnesota-licensed firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer.
• Seventy percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.
• The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.