After the first three days of Minnesota’s firearms deer season, the buck harvest across Northeastern Minnesota was up 8 percent from last year, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials. The harvest of antlerless deer, however, was down 22 percent.
That’s just the way DNR wildlife officials had planned it.
“It went about as we predicted it,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager in St. Paul.
The DNR had issued fewer permits to take antlerless deer this fall in order to save does and increase the deer population in future years, Cornicelli said.
Statewide, based on registrations after the first three days of the season, the buck harvest was up 8 percent, but the overall harvest was down about 4 percent from last year, Cornicelli said.
The antlerless harvest, as a portion of the overall harvest, probably will grow as the deer season continues, he said. Hunters often hold out for a buck on opening weekend then get less selective as the season goes on.
The weather on opening weekend generally was good across the state.
Anecdotally, many hunters across Northeastern Minnesota said they haven’t seen many deer moving so far this season.
Tom Rusch, DNR area wildlife manager at Tower, had said before the season that opening-weekend hunters might miss the peak of the rut, or deer mating season. That peak typically occurs Nov. 6-12 in Northeastern Minnesota, he said, and this year’s deer season opened as early in the calendar year as it can. During the rut, bucks are chasing does and are usually less cautious.
“I’ve been out there every day, and we’re not seeing that buck movement,” Rusch said Tuesday morning.
DNR enforcement officials have issued many citations for baiting already in the young season, according to DNR reports. In their weekly conservation officer reports, nearly every officer across Northeastern Minnesota listed baiting among violations committed by hunters.
“I would say this is our worst season for it,” Andy Schmidt, a DNR conservation officer in the Brookston area, said. “I don’t know if this is because we got more complaints on them and found more this year than we have in the past. I don’t know if there’s more of it going on, or if we’re just aware of more of it.”
One problem is that hunters apparently are not checking the ingredients in commercially sold deer-attractant blocks, Schmidt said.
“People don’t take the time to research them,” he said. “Few of them would be considered legal because they contain ground-up grain, corn, acorns. A lot of them have molasses. All of that is food.”
Adults are passing the baiting practice on to young hunters, Schmidt said.
“I had four kids, uneducated hunters under the direction of adults, hunting over bait,” he said.
Penalties for baiting were strengthened this year. Under new rules, a hunter can lose his or her license for one year if convicted of hunting deer with the use of bait. In addition, the license revocation period can be doubled if the conviction is for a trophy buck scoring higher than 170 inches in antler measurements.
Minnesota’s firearms deer season continues through Nov. 18 in Northeastern Minnesota.Talk about it