2009 Minnesota firearms deer hunting facts and figures

November 16, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Deer: The animal
• Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 lbs., males 170 lbs. – the average weight of female and male humans.
• The biggest white-tailed deer ever recorded was a 500-pound Minnesota buck.
• A whitetail’s home range is about one square mile.
• Minnesota’s deer population is about 1 million deer.
• Texas is No. 1 with 4.7 million deer

Deer: Hunting
• Last year, 38 percent of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer.
About 43 percent were antlered bucks.
• 70 percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.
• The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.
• Last year’s total deer harvest was 222,000, the eighth highest on record. 2003 was the record (290,525).
• License options allow hunters to buy individual licenses for all the seasons now give hunters more choices in where and when they can hunt deer, and hunters can take as many as five deer in many parts of the state.
• Minnesota has averaged deer harvested 254,000 deer over the last five years. Wisconsin is No. 1 with an average harvest over 450,000.
• The largest typical whitetail buck ever taken in Minnesota had a Boone & Crockett score of 202; shot by John Breen in 1918 near Funkley.
• Minnesota’s No. 1 non-typical whitetail buck had 43 points; shot by 17-year-old Mitch Vakoch in 1974. A deer recently taken on the Camp Ripley archery hunt may exceed the record.

Deer: Licenses
• In total, 832,860 deer hunting licenses and permits (all types) were sold in 2008.
• 98 percent of deer licenses are sold to Minnesota residents.
• The DNR information center remained open two hours later on the day before last year’s deer opener to answer more than 2,000 telephone inquiries, most of them related to the firearms opener.

Deer: Economics
• 475,000 deer hunters in Minnesota
• Retail sales – $263 million
• Overall economic impact – $455 million
• Salaries, Wages, Business owner income – $151 million
• State and local tax revenue – $33 million
• Number of directly supported jobs – 5,100
• Economic impact is greatest in Greater Minnesota

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

Name: Ben Cade

Date: November 10, 2009

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: Warm and sunny with high temps approaching 60 degrees. The five-day forecast calls for only a slight drop in temps and some periodic rain showers.

Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: All water is open and wetlands are full.

Feeding Conditions: Beans are coming down fast and a few corn fields have started to be harvested. Some fields are being turned over as fast as they are being harvested.

Species and Numbers: We have good numbers of Canada geese around the urban areas and a few small pockets of mallards around as well. There are a good number of diving ducks around, as well.

Migrations: We are having a few birds come through during the overnight hours, but nothing big. Some flocks of snow geese have been reported moving through the area.

Season Stage: We have three weeks of duck hunting left.

Hunting Report: Goose hunting has been excellent in the fields. Limits of big geese have been common for those putting in plenty of scouting time. If you are able to find the small pockets of ducks, hunting has been good as well.

Gossip: Waterfowl hunters in the area are worried that this year might see a very late duck migration. With this warm weather, we probably won’t see the big push of mallards until after our season is closed.

Nominees sought for 17th annual MN Deer Hunter Ethics Award
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) and Turn In Poachers (TIP) are asking hunters to share stories of exemplary hunting behavior by nominating hunters for the 17th Annual Minnesota Deer Hunter Ethics Award.

The award will honor a deer hunter who has exhibited conduct during the 2009 season that can serve as a positive example to all hunters.

Awards for youth and adult divisions will be presented to the selected recipients at an upcoming MDHA event held in their vicinity.

“MDHA is pleased to again co-sponsor this award along with TIP and the DNR,” said MDHA Executive Director Mark Johnson. “This is an important award that highlights the ethical behavior of our deer hunters and singles out the types of ethical hunters we hope all hunters aspire to be: hunters who care about our hunting heritage, care about fairness and care about the image we as hunters portray.”

Patsy Bernhjelm, TIP Board president, added that it recognizes hunters who go the extra mile. “This award encourages ethics above and beyond legal hunting and TIP is proud to be a part of it again this year.”

Anyone may nominate a hunter by writing a letter or e-mail explaining the actions of the nominee and why that person is worthy of this recognition.

Both youth and adults are eligible, but nominees must be Minnesota residents.

The incidents for which hunters are nominated must have occurred during any of the 2009 Minnesota deer hunting seasons (archery, firearm or muzzleloader).

Nominations will be accepted for the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Ethics Award until Friday,Jan. 22.

Nomination letters should be sent to Ethical Hunter Award, MDHA, 460 Peterson Road, Grand Rapids, MN 55744-8413, or faxed to 218-327-1349, or e-mailed to kimhanson@mndeerhunters.com.

More information is available on MDHA’s web site at www.mndeerhunters.com.

Camp Ripley’s 2nd bow hunt breaks record
From the DNR

A 265-pound buck taken by an area bow hunter was one of seven bucks weighing more than 200 pounds that were harvested during Camp Ripley’s second archery hunt, Oct. 31-Nov. 1.

Archers harvested 305 deer during the second hunt, a record take for the second hunt and only 20 deer below the record two-day total harvest of 325 deer set in 2008 during the first hunt.

In 2008, hunters harvested 191 deer during the second hunt.

“Despite very poor weather conditions and lower harvest during the first hunt, this represents one of our best annual harvests at camp, and is only 7 percent below the record take of 516 deer set last year,” said Beau Liddell, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Little Falls area wildlife manager.

Cory Williams of Pierz took the 265-pound buck, which was the largest deer harvested during both weekend hunts.

Other hunters who harvested large bucks were: Chad Kloss, Royalton, 222 pounds; Rand Kramer, Holmen, Wis., 221 pounds; and Ryan Orrock, Elk River, 218 pounds. Michael Hake of Browerville harvested the largest doe, which weighed in at 117 pounds.

Poor weather for the first hunt resulted in only 172 being harvested.

But deer taken during the second weekend brought this year’s total to 477 deer harvested during both hunts, about 57 percent above the long-term average harvest of 304 deer.

A combined total of 5,005 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,126 hunters participating.

Hunter success during the first hunt was 8 percent but increased significantly to 14 percent for the second hunt.

This year’s success rated was similar to last year and about 4 percent higher than the long-term average of 8 percent.

For the sixth consecutive year, hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer.

“We’re very pleased with the results the past few years,” Liddell said. “Although Ripley bow hunters are known to be selective for bucks, we have seen increasing proportions of does and fawns taken in recent years to help control the population.”

The proportion of antlerless deer taken was slightly lower than the last few years but much higher than the long-term average pf 53 percent, with about 60 percent of this year’s harvest comprised of does or fawns.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre reservation.

DU says loss will affect duck numbers in the future
From Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited cautions that the Duck Factory is on the verge of losing even more of its capacity.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Conservation Reserve Program contracts on more than 500,000 acres expired and were not renewed in the Prairie Pothole Region states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana in 2009.

That means another one-half million acres of grass will be turned back into cropland and no longer available as nesting habitat for ducks.

It also means one-half million acres of grass that are no longer available as an occasional forage source for ranchers.

“The cumulative impacts of grassland loss in the Prairie Pothole Region, both CRP and native prairie, at this magnitude, will eventually have significant impacts on waterfowl populations and the number of ducks that hunters see in their decoy spreads,” said Scott McLeod, DU government affairs representative.

This fall’s losses of CRP grassland are in addition to the more than 960,000 acres lost in the Dakotas and Montana in 2007 and 335,000 acres lost in 2008.

Nearly 70 percent of the acres that have expired in the Dakotas and Montana since 2007 have been in the Prairie Pothole Region, and during the next three years, another 3.4 million acres will expire in the Dakotas and Montana.

South Dakota has slipped from 1.8 million acres of CRP down to 1.07 million acres since 2007.

McLeod says the acreage total will fall to the 600,000 to 650,000 range by 2012.

Likewise, North Dakota has slipped from 3.4 million acres in 2007 to 2.7 million acres and will drop to 1.2 million acres by 2012.

“In 2012 alone, North Dakota will lose more than 846,000 acres of CRP,” McLeod said.

Nationwide, some 2.7 million acres of CRP, freed from contracts, are already being converted into farmland.

Enough acres exited the program this year to fall below the nationwide enrollment cap, which was reduced from 39.2 million acres to 32 million acres in the 2008 farm bill.

To get below 32 million acres by October 1, 2010, as mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA offered three or five year contract extensions and 70 percent of the producers accepted.

“However, the result was still a significant loss of CRP nationwide and in the Dakotas and Montana,” McLeod said.

USDA is currently in the process of conducting a CRP Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which is expected to be completed sometime during the fall of 2010.

A general CRP sign-up cannot be held until the impact statement is completed.