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DULUTH - In just days, the Northland will be dressed in blaze orange and out in their deer stands. But the chances of getting that big buck to mount on your wall are slim compared to past years.
“I know in Duluth the numbers are down, up north the numbers are down, it's been a tougher year,” expressed Dustin Marino of Charlstroms Bait and Tackle.
Deer hunters have been out in the woods with their bows for seven weeks and say they haven't seen nearly as many deer as they did a few years ago.
“It's been, tough,” Marino said. “I usually have three or four right now, and I only have one.”
“I went from an area 5 years ago, I could buy two deer licenses over the counter,” remembers north east regional director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Brad Trevena. “Now, I have to apply for a doe permit.”
Trevena believes it's harder to get a permit because there are simply less deer roaming the woods.
The weather also has an impact on the number of deer. This April, Duluth saw a record breaking 4 feet of snow.
“As long as you have bad weather, you're going to have smaller herds,” Trevena expressed. “It's just a fact, it's a natural fact.”
A snow filled spring makes it harder for deer to find food. When that happens, deer have unhealthy fawns that can't keep up with the pack.
“If you don't have good healthy fawns, they don't have the ability to get away from the bears or the wolves or the coyotes, explained Trevena.
The rising number of wolves in the northland also has hunters concerned.
“We like wolves just as much as everybody else, but at the same time you have to control their population,” said Marino.
According to Minnesota Deer Hunters Association it takes nearly one deer a week to feed a wolf.
Wolves aren't the only natural predator out there; hunters also say bear have been a rising problem in the Northland.
Combine natural predators like wolves and bear with Mother Nature, and you'll find hunters aiming at a different kind of target.
“A few years down the road when the pheasant numbers, the duck numbers are back down, they'll be back in their deer stands,” explained Trevena.
The low numbers haven't put a damper on business.
Charlstroms reports they have been selling hunting equipment like crazy.
Rifle season opens up November 9.