Last year I made the difficult decision not to buy a deer license for the 2022 season. It felt really, really odd because it was a pastime that me and my hunting friends and family looked forward to every year. The truth is, it's just not the same in the last few years. We went from having successful years where at least someone got a deer, to now not even seeing much sign.
Last year I also published a story from hunters reporting that they've seen more wolves than deer while hunting. It's a hot topic in Minnesota deer hunting.
Last year, the numbers show that for Northeastern Minnesota, the success rate for hunters in firearm season was the lowest at just 22.3%. The only lower success rate was archery season, but that's to be expected because it's a more difficult method.
Last year was the lowest deer harvest since 2014 and 2015. Those years were low because there was such a harsh winter in 2013, and many deer didn't survive.
Last winter (2022-2023) had record snowfall. That hasn't helped the deer population either. It's hard for deer to get around and escape from predators in deep snow. I anticipate this year's harvest to be as low as it was following the 2013 winter, if not even lower.
I've heard from many friends who have places in Northern Minnesota claim that they've barely seen any deer this year. The only places they say they see them are in areas near farms and communities. Some say that's also bringing predators closer to humans.
States with the most registered hunters
Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger