Deer numbers down 7 percent from last year
Minnesota hunters harvested 151,400 deer so far during the 2012 early firearm season, according to preliminary numbers announced today by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The late 3B season in southeastern Minnesota remains open through Sunday, Nov. 25.
Overall, antlered buck harvest increased 9 percent and antlerless deer harvest decreased 21 percent compared to 2011. In total, firearm harvest was off 7 percent, which was expected given the conservative allocation of antlerless deer permits.
"The increase in buck harvest and decrease in antlerless deer harvest is a reflection of slightly higher deer populations statewide, yet a more conservative harvest philosophy this year," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. "What drives total harvest is how we manage antlerless deer."
This year, DNR increased the number of lottery areas where hunters could only take an antlerless deer by permit.
Opening weekend weather, which drives much of the statewide deer harvest, was nearly ideal with clear skies, cool temperatures, and a near total crop harvest.
Ample hunting opportunities remain as the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Saturday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 9. The archery season closes on Monday, Dec. 31.
The deer harvest number is calculated using data provided by hunters when they register a deer. A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available on the DNR website at the end of January.