Minnesota bear harvest down from '17
Minnesota bear hunters took nearly 13 percent fewer black bears this year compared to 2017, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported last week. Hunters killed 1,760 bears during the hunting season that ended last Sunday, down from 2...
Minnesota bear hunters took nearly 13 percent fewer black bears this year compared to 2017, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported last week.
Hunters killed 1,760 bears during the hunting season that ended last Sunday, down from 2,035 in 2017 and down 33 percent from 2,633 bears shot in 2016. It's the fewest bears taken since 2013 when just 1,624 were shot.
The same number of permits was issued this year as last. So wildlife managers said the dip in bears shot isn't because there are fewer of them but because they were full. Ample natural food in the woods this year - berries, nuts and other mast crops - kept bears satisfied and less likely to eat at hunter bait stations.
This year hunters took 66 percent male bears and 34 percent male bears. That's still too many females, wildlife managers say, to be sustainable. Because the DNR's goal is to increase bear numbers in the quota area - including northeastern Minnesota - they'd like to see fewer than 30 percent of the harvest females, said Tom Rusch, DNR wildlife manager for the Tower area.
For that to happen, hunters will have to shoot fewer females, which are slow to mature and don't begin breeding until age 4 or 5. Most females shot are younger than that and so never had the chance to add to the population, Rusch noted.
Because it's hard to distinguish males from females in the woods, the only sure way to shoot fewer females is to shoot fewer total bears, which means fewer permits available for hunters and more years between permits due to the lottery system.
Avoid the deer license lines
The days just before deer season have the potential for long lines of hunters waiting to purchase deer hunting licenses. Last year, more than 180,000 licenses were sold the Thursday and Friday before the season opener, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notes.
You can avoid those waits by buying your license early at your favorite sporting goods store or, even more convenient, by phone at (888) 665-4236 or online at licenses.dnr.state.mn.us/. Additional fees apply for telephone and internet transactions and hunters who order deer licenses and tags with these methods should allow 3-5 business days for delivery.
The DNR can answer deer license questions at (888) 646-6367, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Whitefish, tullibee netting seasons opening
Recreational netting dates for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) netting has been set for some northern Minnesota Lakes, the DNR announced last week.
Netting opened Saturday and will remain open through Nov. 11 on Newton, Fall, Basswood and Vermilion (all except Pike Bay, south and west of a north-south line at narrowest portion between Echo Point and Punchers Point.)
Other lakes in the area will open for netting in November. For rules and regulations on net size and other restrictions, go to the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us and search whitefish netting or call the Tower area fisheries office at (218) 300-7802.
Last call for venison processors
If you're a venison processor and you'd like to be listed in the News Tribune's annual list of Northland venison processors, be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday with your listing.
Include your company's name, address, contact information and processing services. Some processors list prices, some don't. It's up to you.
There's no charge to you - this is a free service to our readers who want to know where to get their deer processed. We'll publish the list Oct. 28 in our Outdoors pages. If we've already contacted you, you don't need to send us any more information.
United Northern Sportsmen rifle range open
The United Northern Sportsmen's Club rifle range is now open on weekends and other dates for deer-season sight-ins. The club's range at Island Lake north of Duluth (along St. Louis County Highway 3) is open to the public for a $5 charge per gun.
The club will be open to the public starting at 8 a.m. and running to a half-hour before sunset each day on today, Oct. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and Nov. 1-2.