I haven't missed a year of deer hunting in Northern Minnesota since 2008, but this year will be the first time I'm not going to buy a license. Why? There are a lot of reasons why it's just not worth it this year.
No, PETA didn't get to me. I still think that hunting is the most humane way to be a meat eater. It's just been the perfect storm of things this year working against me. Still, I feel guilty about not buying a license.
Inflation, Inflation, Inflation
If you're like our family, money has been a little tight this year. Yes, you could argue that harvesting a deer would help out with the budget, but not in my case. I'll explain that in a bit. Also the price of ammo has gone up, if you can even find it.
The Minnesota DNR recently shared the outlook for the hunting season. Our family hunting property is in Northern St. Louis County. Things are not looking good for this season. The deer population is down, so there were limited permits given out in the lottery system for antlerless deer. So that means for the rest of us, it's bucks only. That significantly lowers your chance to harvest a deer. Other regions of the state are looking better, but the tough last few winters have been really hard in Northern Minnesota.
It also doesn't help when these trophy bucks end up killing each other during the rut, which is what happened not far from Duluth a few weeks ago.
Wolves are around way too much these days.
In the 1990s when I was first introduced to hunting in my teens, wolves weren't even talked about. Now we see wolf sign most years. Sadly, when there are wolf signs, deer generally aren't around in that area. Nothing quite like hearing a pack of howling wolves in the distance either to freak you out a bit.
My out-of-state license is just too expensive to do it.
It's my family's property we've hunted on since I was in my early 20s. I lived in Duluth and drove north to hunt each season. We eventually bought a house in Superior, Wisconsin across the bridge from Duluth. That means now that I have to buy an out-of-state license to hunt our family property. It's close to $200 now for a license. With the odds of getting deer not the best, I just can't see spending that money. I've got some places I can hunt during the Wisconsin season.
It's really about getting away and seeing your friends at hunting camp anyway.
So the real reason I go every year is to see the group of friends that I have hunted with. I don't need to actually go out and shoot a deer anyway. I'll help out if someone needs it, but I'll be the camp cook, or whatever.
Hopefully, the coming winters will be easier on the deer and we can get back to a healthy population. I'm not done forever, but I probably won't buy a license again until the conditions approve in our area.