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Hunters take nearly 129,000 deer

Minnesota hunters killed 7 percent less antlered bucks and 5 percent fewer antlerless deer this season. N.D. GAME AND FISH

The preliminary numbers are in, and Minnesota hunters have killed 6 percent fewer deer through the second weekend of this year’s firearms deer season than during the same time last year, the Department of Natural Resources reported Wednesday.

According to the DNR, Minnesota hunters shot 128,814 deer through the second weekend of the season. Overall, hunters had killed 7 percent fewer antlered bucks and 5 percent fewer antlerless deer.

The state’s firearms deer season ended Sunday for all but northeast Minnesota, where the season ends this coming Sunday. A late firearms season in southeast Minnesota begins Saturday and concludes Dec. 1.

“Based on our population estimates, the decrease in buck harvest was not anticipated and may reflect hunting conditions more than population,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “Based on the preliminary numbers, our opening and second weekend harvests from Saturday to Monday were down 4 and 13 percent, respectively, and we experienced windy conditions the first weekend and both wind and rain the second weekend.”

Weekend success, particularly opening weekend, drives the total harvest numbers. McInenly stressed that the numbers are preliminary.

The DNR attributes the decline in antlerless success to decreased harvest in the northeast, where the antlerless kill is down 25 percent.

Much of northern Minnesota experienced an extended, moderate-to-severe 2012-13 winter, likely affecting deer survival and production this summer. In response, the DNR reduced bag limits and the number of either-sex permits available in many northern permit areas. Also, the antlerless harvest continues to be reduced around the former bovine tuberculosis management zone in far northwest Minnesota to allow the deer population in that area to rebuild.

Ample hunting opportunities remain. In addition to the continuing firearms season in northeast Minnesota and the late firearms season in southeast Minnesota, the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 15. The archery season closes Dec. 31.

Hunters are reminded that deer must be registered online, via telephone or through an in-person visit to a big game registration station within 48 hours of harvest.

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