Deer Population Shapes Outlook for Upcoming Hunting Season

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: November 08, 2019 06:39 PM

The Minnesota DNR is reporting the deer population will be similar to 2018, allowing hunters to plan ahead for the 2019 Minnesota deer hunting firearms opener Saturday. 


Last year, according to the DNR's 2018 Minnesota Deer Harvest Report, 155,975 deer were taken by registered hunters in the firearms season. That's down from 2017, when 167,500 total deer were taken.

"Because of the tough winter we had last year I think the population is down some," said Brad Trevena with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Last year's winter is not the only issue. It seems that the deer population still has not recovered since the winter of 2014, commented Randy Bowe of Bowe's Taxidermy. 

Between 1998 and 2018, the lowest number of deer were harvested in 2014, when 113,889 deer were taken in total. In the last 20 years, the deer population peaked in 2003 with 257,860 deer taken. The DNR has the full report on the last two decades of deer harvest here.

"Hunting is the primary tool by which we manage our deer population. Hunters are really important to our agency, they're really important to local economies," said Barb Keller, the Minnesota DNR big game program leader. 

Scouting, according to the DNR, is especially important. The wet year can affect access to hunting locations due to pooling water, unharvested crops and rainy habitats. Crops that were not harvested due to the wet conditions could cause visibility issues for hunters.

Choosing the right hunting spot, and the right hunting zone, will be a key to success this season. 

"You need to, when you purchase your tag know where you're hunting. If you're in zone one or zone two the season [lengths] may be different," said Trevena.

The northland, in zone 100, has a 1-3 deer limit depending on the area. Find Figure One in the 2018 Deer Harvest Report for the zone map.

For updated deer reports and statistics on the statewide total deer harvest click here.


Alicia Tipcke

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