First off, getting a deer does not make a season, although it helps. It's the opportunity, not the outcome. Also, this isn't every area. Some places maybe doing better then they ever have.
However, for seeing and harvesting deer, was this one of your worst seasons ever in your opinion?
Why do you think there is the decline in deer and harvest numbers?
Some may say, "Well, I got 3 deer." However, what are the guys you've talked to saying? Are they saying it was a good or bad season?
I've noticed a definite decline in the last 10 years. When I was in my last years of highschool and hunted you would hear gun shots almost all day, every day of gun opener in MN and on the way back home on Sunday you would see nearly a deer in the back of every truck. This year we heard 3.....3 shots only on Saturday and like 5 on Sunday. On the way home on Sunday we did not see 1 deer in the back of a truck. Not 1. It's slowly gotten like this since 1999.
I've spoke with hunters in Northern, Central, and Southern, MN and they say it's been getting worse and worse with this year being one of the worst. A friend on the North Shore who has shot many monster bucks said this year was the worst he's seen in the last 40 years. We also hunted Wisconsin and were told it was horrible there too by some hunters.
People say it's a lot of things and a combination of all of these: woods getting older, predators (wolves/coyotes), and urbanization. I think I've got to add one more thing, "over-harvesting" by hunters. Perhaps we are killing too many deer in certain areas, especially does. If this is the case hunters are their own worst enemy. Just because we can kill 5 anterless deer doesn't mean we should.
I know the DNR Harvest numbers in a lot of states are proving that deer kill numbers are far lower then last year and last year wasn't a great year either.