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Minnesota opening weekend firearms deer harvest down 11% from last year

Hunters in Minnesota registered 58,370 whitetails during the first two days of the firearms season, the DNR said. The biggest drop occurred in the 100-series permit areas of northern Minnesota, where hunters registered 13,222 deer, down 20% from last year and 22% below the five-year mean.

MNDNR deer photo
Whitetail doe and buck. Contributed / Minnesota DNR

Minnesota’s statewide deer harvest during the opening weekend of the state’s firearms deer season was down 11% from 2020 and 15% below the five-year mean, statistics from the Department of Natural Resources show.

In statistical terms, mean refers to the average of a data set. Minnesota’s firearms deer season opened Saturday, Nov. 6.

Hunters statewide registered 58,370 whitetails during the first two days of the firearms season, the DNR said. The biggest drop occurred in the 100-series permit areas of northern Minnesota, where hunters registered 13,222 deer, down 20% from last year and 22% below the five-year mean.

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In the 200-series deer permit areas, hunters registered 38,545 deer, down 10% from 2020 and down 16% from the five-year mean.
The only increase occurred in the 300-, 600- and 700-permit areas farther south, where hunters registered 6,603 deer, up 10% from last year and similar to the five-year mean.

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By region, hunters in the DNR’s Northwest Region registered 18,423 deer, down 12% from 2020 and down 19%, when compared with the two-year mean.

MNDEERHARVEST1.JPG
Minnesota 2021 firearms deer harvest numbers from opening weekend and comparisons with 2020. Contributed / Minnesota DNR

Opening weekend tallies in other parts of the state were as follows:

  • Northeast: Hunters registered 12,768 deer, down 12% from 2020 and 22% below the two-year mean.

  • Central: 18,208 deer were registered, down 10% from 2020 and 15% below the two-year mean.

  • Southwest: 8,971 deer, similar to last year and down only 1% from the two-year mean.

Todd Froberg, acting big game program manager for the DNR in Altura, Minnesota, said Wednesday that he expected to have updated harvest numbers in a few days. Because hunters have 48 hours to register their deer, the tallies to this point only reflect opening weekend.
Anecdotal reports from opening weekend suggested a slower opener, driven in part by balmy November weather that may have made the deer less apt to move. Still, Froberg says, the decline was unexpected.

“I think it is fairly surprising that it is down that much considering license sales were very similar, down 1% total” from 2020, Froberg said in an email. “Weather was warmer than average but not outrageous, crop harvest was ahead of schedule from last year, and we didn’t have too harsh of a winter anywhere. (There) should have been good numbers of deer in most places.”

Perhaps, he said, last year’s COVID-driven bump in deer harvest was real.

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MNDEERHARVEST2.JPG
Minnesota cumulative firearms deer harvest by day of season for 2021, 2020 and five- and 10-year means. Contributed / Minnesota DNR

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