Published November 10, 2011, 01:23 PM

DNR reports significant decline in firearms deer kill in Northland

UPDATE: Department of Natural Resources area wildlife managers Tom Rusch at Tower and Rich Staffon at Cloquet said deer registrations were down an average of 38 percent and 34 percent in their work areas, respectively.

By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune

After the first four days of Minnesota’s firearms deer season, the harvest was down by more than one-third over much of Northeastern Minnesota, according to state wildlife officials.

Department of Natural Resources area wildlife managers Tom Rusch at Tower and Rich Staffon at Cloquet said deer registrations were down an average of 38 percent and 34 percent in their work areas, respectively.

Permit areas included in the comparisons were 156, 159, 178, 180, 181, 182, 183, 199, 108, 117, 118, 119, 122, 127, 177 and 176. Some areas were down by more than 50 percent from last year.

“A decline of 34 percent — that’s pretty significant,” Staffon said of his work area. “We might see 10 or 15 percent some years, but that’s substantial.”

The harvest dropped from 13,526 last year to 8,956 this year during the first four days of the season in Staffon’s work area, he said. In the Tower wildlife area, harvest dropped from 8,623 last fall to 5,348 this fall.

Minnesota’s firearms deer season opened Saturday and continues through Nov. 20.

Statewide, the harvest was down 20 percent after the first three days of the season, the DNR reported Tuesday. No breakdown was available specifically for all management units in Northeastern Minnesota, said Lou Cornicelli, who supervises the DNR’s big game program.

High winds the first three days of the season may have reduced deer movement, DNR officials and hunters say. Many hunters also have noted a lack of buck sign — namely, antler rubbing on trees, and scrapes made in the forest floor — Staffon said.

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