Boots & Sabers

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1023, 27 Nov 19

Opening Weekend Harvest Down


The herd appears to as robust as ever. The Department of Natural Resources has estimated nearly 2 million deer are roaming the landscape. For the first time in a decade the department allowed hunters this season to kill does in every county, a telltale sign that the herd is strong and there’s no need to protect female deer and preserve their reproductive capabilities.

But hunters managed to kill only 90,286 deer on Saturday and Sunday, according to preliminary DNR data. That’s down nearly 27% from 123,090 deer killed during opening weekend last year. Hunters felled 46,866 bucks, down 30% from 2018.

As of midnight Sunday the DNR had sold 555,227 licenses that allow someone to kill a deer with a gun during the state’s multiple fall hunting seasons. That’s down 1.5% from opening weekend 2018 — as of midnight of that Sunday the department had sold 564,052 licenses — but it’s impossible to tell how may hunters ventured out, or how much time they spent in the woods.

I’m always fascinated by how these numbers shift. I was in the woods all weekend. Here’s why I think the harvest is down:

  • The weather was awesome. Warm(ish), clear, light or no wind… great for sitting. But it’s also great for the deer. They were as comfortable as we were.
  • The late hunt is way after the rut is over.
  • Because of the wet fall, there are still a lot of crops up. Lots of food and plenty of water makes for lazy deer.
  • There isn’t any snow, so the deer are harder to spot.

Any other thoughts?

For the record, I saw 11 deer so far, but didn’t harvest any. I still have a couple of hundred pounds of venison in the freezer. I’m only looking for horns this year.


1023, 27 November 2019


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