Despite new rules, hunters report good openerNew hunting restrictions and higher-than normal temperatures didn't stop area hunters from having a better than expected opening week.
New hunting restrictions and higher-than normal temperatures didn't stop area hunters from having a better than expected opening week.
Nearly 600 deer were registered opening weekend this year in the permit area that covers Goodhue County, up slightly from the 570 reported last year.
"What we've seen so far is that the harvest is up," said Don Nelson, a wildlife manager at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Rochester office.
But other numbers tell the full story.
Despite an overall rise in registered deer, the buck harvest this year was down 29 percent, the result, officials say, of a new restriction that limits the harvesting of bucks to those with four points or greater on either antler.
"People are shooting does instead of bucks," said Nelson.
The restriction was put in place for the first time this year in southeastern Minnesota as a possible way to raise the quality of the deer herd, according to DNR conservation officer Tyler Quandt, who serves Red Wing and Lake City.
Quandt said the transition among area hunters to the new restriction is going well, though four hunters have called in reporting that they had accidentally shot bucks that did not meet the four-point standard.
In both cases, the hunters were issued warnings and the deer were donated to charitable organizations.
In another case, a hunter called in reporting a buck that someone had shot and left in the woods, apparently because it did not meet the requirements.
"Beyond those, I have seen very few problems so far," Quandt said Thursday.
Area hunters gathered at Four Seasons Sports in Red Wing on Thursday said the new restrictions were not impeding their hunting this year, though some said it is a challenge to determine if bucks meet the point requirements.
"It can be tough to tell sometimes, especially when you're far back," said Ben Molnar, an employee of Four Seasons, one of the four deer registration locations in Red Wing.
Store employee Scott Gadient said he has seen fewer registered bucks this year, though overall numbers are "around average."
He said an early corn harvest aided hunters by making deer easier to track. "It takes the deer out of the cornfield and into the woods," he said.