Strong winds over the weekend might have hampered Minnesota's deer harvest, prompting deer to bed down. On the other hand, snow in parts of northern Minnesota might have helped hunters.
Because of the Veterans Day holiday Monday, no preliminary deer harvest figures were available Tuesday from the Department of Natural Resources. But several conservation officers reported the winds appeared to hinder harvest.
"Most [hunters] believed standing corn and heavy winds contributed to the slow opening weekend,'' reported officer Troy Richards of Fergus Falls, site of this year's Governor's Deer Opener. Deer harvest was slow in the Grand Rapids and Duluth areas, too, and hunters had mixed success near Brainerd.
DNR officials are expecting a harvest similar to last year, when hunters killed 186,000 whitetails.
At least three vehicles were struck by shots apparently fired by hunters over the weekend; no injuries were reported. One vehicle traveling on Interstate 35 in northern Chisago County was struck by a bullet Saturday morning. A truck driving on a county road near Montevideo was hit by a slug as a party of hunters 200 yards away shot at a deer. And a vehicle traveling Hwy. 23 near Pipestone was struck by a slug Sunday afternoon. That investigation showed the hunter had shot at a deer and the slug ricocheted off the soil, turned approximately 90 degrees and traveled 200 yards before striking the vehicle.
Hunters had killed 50 wolves as of Tuesday in Minnesota's second regulated wolf hunt — about half the quota set for the first season. "It's consistent with harvest trends from last year,'' said Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist. Hunters have killed 34 wolves in the northwest zone (the quota is 73), and 16 wolves in the northeast zone (the quota is 33). Hunters didn't kill any wolves during a two-day hunt in the east-central zone, where the quota for both the early and late seasons combined is 10.
Stark still expects hunters to reach the target goal of 220 wolves for the season.