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Minnesota opening weekend firearms deer harvest down 23% from last year, DNR says

Hunters registered 49,274 deer statewide during the opening weekend, the DNR said.

MNDNR deer photo
Minnesota whitetails.
Contributed/Minnesota DNR
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ST. PAUL – Minnesota’s deer harvest during the opening weekend of the state’s firearms deer season was down 23% from last year, the Department of Natural Resources said.

The firearms deer season opened Saturday, Nov. 5.

Hunters registered 49,274 deer statewide, the DNR said. In addition to the 23% drop from last year, the opening weekend harvest was down 30% from the five-year mean.

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The biggest drop occurred in Region 1, the northeast region, where the harvest was down 32% from last year and 39% from the five-year mean. Severe winter weather had a negative impact on deer populations in much of northeast Minnesota, and several deer permit areas in the northeast were either bucks-only or lottery, meaning hunters had to apply for a limited number of antlerless deer tags and could only shoot a doe if they drew one of the tags in the lottery.

Hunters in Region 1 harvested 14,076 deer during the opening weekend, the DNR said.

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In Region 2, the northwest region, hunters registered 10,590 deer, the DNR said, down 24% from 2021 and 41% from the five-year mean.

In Region 3 of central Minnesota, hunters harvested 16,152 deer, down 18% from last year and 18% from the five-year mean.

Hunters in Region 4 of southern Minnesota harvested 8,456 deer, down 15% from 2021 and 12% from the five-year mean.

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The decline mirrors observations from DNR conservation officers, many of whom reported slow deer hunting success during the opening weekend.

Jeremy Woinarowicz, DNR conservation for the Thief River Falls west station, said hunters had “moderate” success for the opener, while DNR conservation officer Ben Huener in Roseau called the opener “hit-or-miss.”

Wind gusts near 40 mph on Nov. 6, the second day of season, kept many hunters out of the field and also hampered deer movement.

Deer season in the 100-series permit areas of northeast Minnesota continues through Sunday, Nov. 20. Meanwhile, Sunday, Nov. 13, is the last day of the firearms deer season in 200- and 300-series permit areas, which includes much of northwest and western Minnesota.

As of Monday, Nov. 7, hunters in Minnesota had harvested 68,628 deer for the year to date, the DNR said, a tally that includes the archery, youth and early antlerless seasons in addition to the firearms deer opener.

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Minnesota hunters last year registered 150,136 deer during the firearms deer season for a success rate of 31.8%. Including the archery and muzzleloader seasons, hunters registered 184,698 deer. Archery hunters had a success rate of 19.9%, while the success rate for muzzleloader hunters was 18%, DNR statistics show.

An interactive deer harvest map is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/mammals/deer/management/statistics.html.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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