Hunters at the second two-day Camp Ripley archery hunt Nov. 2-3 were greeted with excellent weather Saturday and breezy to moderate gale-force winds on Sunday, with archers harvesting 127 deer, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Nov. 2-3 harvest, coupled with the 181 taken during the Oct. 26-27 hunt, ranks 16th best at Camp Ripley. Windy weather resulted in more than half of the participants leaving Camp by mid-day of the second day of each hunt this year. The four-day total of 308 deer is about 5 percent below the long-term average harvest of 323 deer for the two hunts combined, and represents a 28 percent decline from last year’s harvest of 431 deer.
“Although the take is lower than we’ve come to expect in recent years, hunters achieved a harvest at camp that is just below the long-term average, and deer registered this year were in exceptionally good condition,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager. “Administration of the hunt went well with no major injuries or mishaps during this year’s event.”
A combined total of 5,002 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,488 hunters participating — the highest participation rate since the hunt began in 1954. Success across both hunts was 7 percent, which is 2 percent below the long-term average of 9 percent, and similar to the success experienced during other hunts at Camp Ripley earlier this fall.
For the 10th year, hunters at Camp Ripley were allowed to use bonus permits to increase harvest of antlerless deer.
“We’re very pleased with the results the past 10 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 Ripley during both hunts was 4 percent higher than last year, and 7 percent higher than the long-term average (56 percent), with 63 percent of this year’s harvest comprised of does and fawns.
The largest buck taken on the second hunt weighed 220 pounds and was taken by Tony Sutherland of Stanchfield.
Other hunters who harvested large bucks during second hunt include:
Lonny Hutchins, Swanville, 219 pounds.
John Ampe, Maple Grove, 202 pounds.
Nathan Ruch, North Mankato, 197 pounds.
Many large does were taken, with 16 topping the 120-pound mark. The largest doe taken weighed 147 pounds and was taken by Jacob Zeis of Burtrum.
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.