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Deer Hunting Roundup: Opening weekend deer harvest down 28 percent, Kainz leading contest

The Department of Natural Resources Area Wildlife headquarters in Tower reported 28% fewer deer registered, compared to 2004, through the first three days of the 2005 Minnesota firearms deer season in Northern St. Louis and Lake Counties.Hunters are reporting a mixed bag of success, with some parties seeing excellent deer activity and others very little following the opening weekend of the 16-day season. Weather and hunting conditions have been less than ideal through Tuesday, with drizzle and light precipitation on opening day and unseasonably warm weather on Sunday and Monday with highs in the mid-60s. Deer rutting activity does not appear to have peaked (at reporting time).Eight local big game registration stations registered 1,425 deer through the first three days of the 16-day firearms season compared to 1,991 registered in 2004 and 2,957 in 2003. Registration figures varied from up 11% at Tower Fuel & Food to down 39% at Hoyt Lakes and Cook Lucky 7s. Most station were down about 25-30%. At Lucky 7 in Ely, 235 deer were registered, down 27% from the 321 taken in 2004. There were 380 deer registered at this time in 2003 and 216 in 2002. At Blomberg’s in Babbitt, 134 deer were registered this year, down from 154 in 2004, 235 in 2003 but similar to the 122 in 2002. DNR Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch reminds hunters that the new ELS tags are not on adhesive paper. Instead, a small hole is punched in the site tag for a piece of string or wire to go through. Rusch said that through the ELS registration system, he can see that so far 61% percent of the deer registered have been bucks. The Isabella area is at 71% bucks, while International Falls is at 59%, Aitkin is at 49% and Brainerd 44%.“What will happen with our area is a lot of guys hold their tags,” said Rusch. “They wait to shoot a doe so you’ll see the anterless percentage increase as the season goes on.” Ideally the DNR would like to see a harvest of 50 to 55 percent bucks in order to keep the deer population in check.Ely numbers may go up as deer move into the rutting period and bucks aren’t as careful.“Breeding usually kicks in around Nov. 12-14 and the deer are usually in rut a week before that,” said Rusch.The opener is determined by state law, which currentlystates the season starts on the Saturday closest to Nov. 6. Wildlife managers report that deer numbers have declined a bit, as a result of two consecutive record harvests and a return to more normal winter weather conditions across northeast Minnesota. “Bonus permits” are still available for deer management units designated “Managed” (107, 115, and 178) and can be purchased at any time during the season. There is no waiting period after purchase. The limit is one bonus permit per hunter and they cost $13. The 2005 firearms deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 20.

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