DNR reports some areas up, overall deer harvest down in Tower area
After a bitter cold opening Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the 2019 firearms deer season has bounced back according to registration numbers.
The Minnesota DNR reports the harvest is down 30.5% compared to 2018 for northern St Louis and Lake Counties including Permit Areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132 176, 177 and 178.
When just the buck harvest is separated out, the numbers are down 12.8% from last year through the second Tuesday of the 16-day season.
“All things considered, the buck harvest is not down as much as I thought it would be,” said area wildlife supervisor Tom Rusch.
For the following permit areas, here’s what the harvest increase or decrease was:
117 + 8.8%
118 + 2.6%
178 - 8.8%
132 - 15.5%
130 - 15.9%
119 - 17.2%
176 - 19.5
177 - 19.7
131 - 25.4
Bucks comprised 79% of the harvest as a result of a more conservative season structure in most permit areas.
Hunters reported a mixed bag of deer activity depending on the day and the weather. Some hunters reported bucks chasing does and breeding pairs. Other hunters reported minimal deer activity with most of it occurring at night.
The weather and field conditions in northern St Louis County were pretty normal after the cold front moved through mid-week.
Most days were in the 20s and 30s with the high temps reaching into the 40s on the weekend. Nights were cool and a skiff of snow remained to improve visibility. Swamps and low areas remained frozen which greatly improved access compared to early fall conditions.
The cold weather conditions that we experienced from Sunday of opening weekend through mid-week significantly impacted hunter effort reducing stand time for many hunters, and ultimately harvest.
That was a huge factor considering the decline in harvest over opening weekend, when the majority of hunters are in the woods.
State-wide the harvest was 153,643 deer including 86,533 (56%) bucks and 67,110 antlerless (44%).
With lower hunting pressure and the tail end of rutting activity continuing into the last weekend, hunting should be good for those still in the woods unless the snowstorm that hit Wednesday night limits access.