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Minnesota deer hunt improves after slow start

Statewide registrations are now on par with 2019.

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Thanks to cooler weather and snow in some areas, Minnesota deer hunters had much better sucess after a warm, windly and slow opeing weekend. Statewide deer registrations through Nov. 16 are now on par with 2019 after being down 21% after the first two days of the season. (John Myers / jmyers@duluthnews.com)

Cooler weather and some snow in the north helped Minnesota deer hunters improve their success after a warm and windy opening weekend.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shows statewide firearms deer registrations hit 131,633 through Monday, nearly on par with 2019 at that point of the season and just 2% below the five-year average.

The statewide firearms count had been down 21% after just the first two days of the season, in part due to near-record warmth and very windy conditions.

Barb Keller, DNR big game program leader, said overall deer registrations this year — including archery and youth hunts — are now 5% above last year.

In the northern, 100-area management units, the firearms harvest through Monday — after 10 days of hunting — was 31,181. That’s down 3% from 2019 and 15% from the five-year average, but a marked improvement after being down 28% after opening weekend.


The 200 management areas saw registrations at 87,655 when their season ended on Sunday, about the same as last year, while the 300-area units saw 12,527 deer registered, up 9% from 2019 and up 18% over the five-year average.

In Northeastern Minnesota’s Arrowhead region — areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132, 176, 177 and 178 — the overall 2020 deer harvest is down 17.2% compared to 2019 at the same time. Buck kill, the best indicator of population change over time, is down 16.4% from 2019 in the same permit areas. The antlerless kill in those permit areas was down 20.3% compared to 2019, at least in part due to fewer permits being issued.

The season continues through Nov. 22 in the 100-area units.

The buck kill is down the most in areas to the north and east of Duluth, consistent with winter severity index totals after five deep-snow winters over the last 8 years, said Tom Rusch, DNR wildlife manager in Tower.

Rusch said hunting conditions improved considerably after the record setting temperatures experienced on opening weekend with cooler temperatures and snow leading to more deer activity and more deer harvested.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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