Early numbers from the 2013 Minnesota deer hunting firearms season show that more of the state's half million deer hunters were disappointed this year. KARE reports that here was a 6 percent drop in the number taken, compared to the count in 2012.
A release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says hunters have harvested 164,550 deer, numbers calculated using data provided by hunters when they register a deer. The DNR will release a final report with additional harvest information at the end of January.
The lower numbers don't come as a surprise. Even as the firearms season opened, there was a a reduced number of deer in the state, especially in the Arrowhead in northeastern Minnesota. The drop in numbers was first noted in November as the season was ongoing.
The Associated Press said that before the season, the DNR had anticipated that hunter success would be similar to 2012, when they killed about 185,000 deer. Preliminary numbers for the late season in southeastern Minnesota show hunters harvested 4,400 deer, down from the 5,000 harvested in 2012.
A DNR wildlife population manager said a smaller deer population is likely the main reason that fewer hunters have venison in the freezer. The cold autumn weather was also a factor. The opener was windy, and it was rainy and windy the next weekend. Bad weather limits deer movement, and discourages hunters. Harsh weather from the previous winter had already reduced the deer population.
The DNR said the firearms season ended Nov. 17, for all but 100-series permit areas in the northeastern part of the state, where the season concluded Nov. 24. A late 3B firearm season in southeastern Minnesota began Nov. 23, and concluded Dec. 1. The muzzleloader season remains open through Sunday, while the archery season closes Dec. 31.
The DNR estimates that deer hunting pumps nearly $500,000 into the state’s economy.
The AP's story also includes an update from the state's wolf hunting-and-trapping season, which remains open. In Minnesota's second wolf season, hunters and trappers have registered 23 wolves in the northwest zone as of Monday, 16 in the northeast zone and none in the east-central zone, compared with late-season targets of 89, 33 and 10 respectively. This is Minnesota's second wolf season since the animals came off the endangered list.
Last year's target was 400, and the final count of wolves killed was 413. The DNR lowered that to 220 wolves for this year's season.