Bill Stafford | Sports/Outdoors Writer | 11-12-2011
That time of year is here again when sons and daughters of devoted hunters get pestered at college by their mothers because the husbands are out in the stand. This time of year is usually marked by a sharp chill in the air, an absence of green on the ground and in the trees, and a sneaky feeling that the fluffy white stuff will be making an entrance at any time.
That buck stops here, in one of the warmest October opening of deer seasons in recent memory. This odd, almost vacation-like weather in comparison of years past, has been the talk of why this year’s opener was not as successful as some hunters would have liked. Nearly sixty five percent of total kills occur during the first three days of the season according to reports from the Duluth News Tribune. However, because of high wind conditions over opener, deer, especially trophies, have laid low and stayed stagnant. Although 73,000 deer taken according to reports from the DNR as of Nov. 9, sounds like a lot, that number is down from last year by nearly 18,000 animals.
Some good news for the state is that participation is up from last year according to DNR licensing officials. Over 435,000 registered firearms licenses have been sold thus far which is the most dating all the way back to 2000.
However, with increased participation, there must be heightened awareness about safety in the woods and in the stand. Over the weekend, two elderly men from the area died after falling from their tree stands. Another death was attested to natural causes while hunting, but possibly most tragic of all was the report of a 15-year-old sophomore from the Mora area accidentally discharging his weapon while taking off his jacket, severing an important artery in his leg, leading to his death.
Deer hunting is an important rite of passage and tradition to many in our area that has been shared by generation to generation that brings family and friends together this time of year. The coming weeks will surely be looking up for hunters for dropping hides across the state with more winter-like weather on the way. So to those in the woods, good luck, be safe, and happy hunting.