Minnesota firearms deer hunters had a pretty good opening day, thanks to a little snow up north and fairly mild temperatures in the 30s, shooting 4.5% more deer statewide this year compared to opening day in 2018.
But then the cold and wind came on Sunday and more hunters apparently went inside, shooting 13.7% fewer deer then on opening weekend Sunday in 2018.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said hunters registered 47,580 deer Saturday, but only 21,243 deer Sunday for a statewide total of 68,823 for opening weekend. That's down about 1,000 deer from the first two days of 2018. (By Monday, statewide registration had dwindled to just 4,071 as temperatures struggled to climb above zero and wind chills remained below zero much of the day.)
In Northeastern Deer Management Area 178, hunters registered 846 deer in the opening days of the season this year, down from 958 in 2018 and 894 in 2017. In Area 177, there were 508 registrations this year compared to 530 in 2018 and 521 in 2017. Area 118 was up a little this year, with 331 registrations compared to 249 last year and 329 in 2017.
DNR officials expected a similar season this year to last when firearms hunters took about 165,000 deer, with about 195,000 total deer taken when archery and muzzleloader registrations were included. Generally, about half the deer shot each firearms season are taken during the first two days.
Unusually cold or wet weather often holds harvest numbers down with hunters spending less time actively pursuing deer.