With 98 percent of registrations reported across Northeastern Minnesota, the 2009 deer harvest is down 20 percent from last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Overall across the region, the adult buck harvest was down 6 percent, and the antlerless deer harvest was down 33 percent. This fall's downturn follows a drop in the harvest of 20 percent last year.
Buck’s Hardware Hank in Grand Marais registered the biggest buck in the region, a 245 pounder taken by Treg Axtell of Hovland. The buck also had the largest outside antler spread of those taken locally – 21-5/8 inches. A 254 pound buck registered in Duluth was the biggest in the Northeast region. Joey Pederson of Grand Marais registered a 231 pound buck with a 21-1/2 inch spread.
According to the DNR, the drop in the antlerless deer harvest was almost directly attributable to a decrease in the number of antlerless deer permits available this fall. A harsher winter in 2008-2009 also took its toll, especially across the northern tier of the region.
Over the past few years, the DNR, based on public input, has been trying to lower deer populations across much of Northeastern Minnesota. That has been done to reduce impact on forests, to reduce car crashes with deer and to relieve deer predation on gardens and shrubs.