■ Firearms deer harvest
down 6 percent from 2012
Minnesota hunters harvested 128,814 deer through the second weekend of the 2013 firearms season, according to preliminary numbers announced Nov. 20 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The season ended Sunday, Nov. 17, for all but 100-series permit areas in the northeastern part of the state, where the season concludes on Sunday, Nov. 24. A late 3B firearm season in southeastern Minnesota begins Saturday, Nov. 23, and concludes Sunday, Dec. 1.
Firearm harvest to date is down 6 percent from last year at this time. Overall, antlered buck harvest is down 7 percent and antlerless harvest is down 5 percent.
“Based on our population estimates, the decrease in buck harvest was not anticipated and may reflect hunting conditions more than population,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “Based on the preliminary numbers, our opening and second weekend harvests from Saturday to Monday were down 4 and 13 percent, respectively, and we experienced windy conditions the first weekend and both wind and rain the second weekend.”
Weekend harvests, particularly opening weekend, drive the total harvest numbers. McInenly stressed that these numbers are preliminary.
Much of the change in statewide antlerless harvest can be attributed to decreased harvest in the northeastern portion of the state, where antlerless harvest is currently down 25 percent.
Much of northern Minnesota experienced an extended, moderate-to-severe 2012-2013 winter, likely impacting overwinter survival and fawn numbers this summer. In response, the DNR reduced bag limits and the number of either-sex permits available in many northern permit areas. Also, antlerless harvest continues to be reduced around the former bovine tuberculosis management zone in far northwestern Minnesota to allow the deer population in that area to rebuild.
Ample hunting opportunities remain. In addition to the continuing firearms season in northeastern Minnesota and the late firearms season in southeastern Minnesota, the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Saturday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 15. The archery season closes on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
Hunters are reminded that deer must be registered online, via telephone or through an in-person visit to a big game registration station within 48 hours of harvest.
For more information on the firearms deer season, visit www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.
■ Mille Lacs walleye regulation to remain the same this winter
Walleye anglers who fish Mille Lacs Lake this winter will do so under the same bag and slot limit that has been in effect since May, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Following fish population assessments this fall, the DNR determined that maintaining the existing regulation was appropriate. That regulation allows anglers to harvest walleye between 18- and 20-inches, except one over 28 inches may be harvested. The possession limit is two.
The walleye fishing season runs through Feb. 23 and reopens May 10. The walleye regulation for the 2014 open water season will be announced in late winter following an evaluation of harvest data.
■ DNR reminder: ice
is not safe right now
The Department of Natural Resources said the thin layers of ice that are forming on Minnesota waters right now are not safe. This reminder comes after a DNR conservation officer helped rescue a man Nov. 15 who was fishing and fell through the ice on Little Rock Lake in Benton County.
“The bottom line is it’s crucial that people do not let their guard down,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist, “because ice is never 100 percent safe. A few days of cold temperatures don’t create ice strong enough to hold a person.”
According to Owens, six people died last winter after falling through the ice.
The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort— ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice.
DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:
• 4 inches for walking.
• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
• 8-12 inches for a car.
• 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.
For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.