Slow start for Arrowhead region’s archery season, firearm season begins November 4th
Christa R. via Flickr
Outdoor News

Slow start for Arrowhead region’s archery season, firearm season begins November 4th

Archery season began in the Arrowhead region more than a month ago on Sept. 16, and based on the current Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) harvest reports, it has proved to be off to a slow start. 

The northeast region, commonly referred to as the Superior Uplands – Arrowhead region, which encompasses Cook and Lake counties, is broken into six deer permit areas (DPAs): 117, 118, 126, 130, 131, and 133. 

As of Oct. 26, only two bucks have been harvested during the archery season in DPA 126, which encompasses most of Cook County. 

Neighboring DPA 131 has zero harvested deer, while DPA 130 has two harvested bucks. Farther down the shore in DPA 133, 22 deer have been harvested, 18 bucks and four does. 

The low harvest reports can be attributed to several DNR regulation changes leading up to the 2023 season. 

Following continued low deer populations due to severe winters and wolf predation in the northeast in recent years, the DNR has continued to scale back antlerless lottery permits. In 2021, the DNR allowed 100 antlerless lottery permits in DPA 126. In 2022, only 25 were allowed. In 2023, there were zero. This change effectively designated DPA 126 as bucks only for the 2023 deer season. 

Before this change, archery hunters were allowed to harvest a buck or a doe and were not required to apply for an antlerless lottery permit.

Surrounding DPA’s also experienced a reduction of antlerless lottery permits moving into the 2023 deer hunting season. In total, across Minnesota, 38 DPAs have reduced bag limits or lottery permits, while 12 DPAs, primarily in the state’s southern regions, saw an increase. 

Pre-rut Archery Season

The archery season begins well before bucks are in rut, generally during the final weeks of October. While harvest numbers during the archery season are lower than during firearm season, it allows archery hunters to enter the woods and harvest a deer in more comfortable weather conditions and before the more crowded firearm season begins. 

Many of the archery hunters that WTIP spoke with have expressed apprehension about the overall limited number of deer witnessed in the stand daily. While firearm season begins one week from today, signs of the rut have already showed signs of beginning, and it seems that many archery hunters will soon have to transition to a firearm to harvest a deer this season. 

According to the Minnesota DNR, more than 400,000 deer hunters are preparing for the firearms deer season opener on Saturday, Nov. 4. As deer hunters take to the field, the DNR invites deer hunters to report any wildlife sightings while in the woods. Data from the observations assist the DNR in estimating population-level trends for deer and tracking wildlife distribution for other species across the state. The online questionnaire is available until Jan. 15, 2024. 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Nancy Hansen, the area wildlife manager in Two Harbors with the Minnesota DNR about the archery harvest reports and the outlook for the upcoming firearm deer season. Audio from the interview is below.