Variable weather and a nearly full moon greeted hunters at Camp Ripley on Oct. 27-28 for the second two-day archery deer hunt, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The archers harvested 223 deer, which is the fourth highest harvest for the second hunt. Those deer, coupled with the 208 taken during the Oct. 18-19 hunt, represent the eighth best harvest ever at Camp Ripley.
Although wet weather impacted hunter participation during each hunt, the four-day total of 431 deer was 35 percent above the long-term average harvest of 320 deer for the two-hunts combined, and represents a 2 percent increase above last year’s total harvest of 422 deer.
“Despite some wet weather during each event, hunters achieved another strong harvest at camp and helped 11 lucky hunters take large bucks that weighed more than 200 pounds,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager. “The overall harvest is well above average, and administration of the hunt went well.”
A total of 5,003 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,205 hunters participating. Hunter success during both hunts was 10 percent, which is just above the long-term average of 9 percent.
For the ninth year running, hunters at Camp Ripley were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer.
“We’re very pleased with the results the past nine years,” Liddell said. “While Ripley bow hunters are known to be selective for bucks, we have seen increasing proportions of does and fawns taken in recent years to help keep the population in check.”
The proportion of antlerless deer taken at Camp was 5 percent lower than last year, but 4 percent higher than the long-term average (55 percent), with just under 60 percent of this year’s harvest composed of does and fawns.
The largest buck harvested on the second hunt, taken by Ryan Brenny of Rice, weighed 215 pounds.
Other hunters who harvested large bucks during Oct-27-28 hunt:
• Nathan Zurn, Foreston, 212 pounds.
• Brandon Rademacher, Brainerd, 204 pounds.
• Ryan McClellan, Otsego, 202 pounds.
The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000 acre reservation.