Minnesota deer harvest was third highest


Mar 11, 2001
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Minnesota deer harvest was third highest
BY JOHN MYERS, Duluth News Tribune


Minnesota hunters shot just more than 200,000 deer during the November firearms seasons, the third highest statewide total ever, despite grumbling from many hunters that the weather was too hot.

The 200,100 deer shot during the season was 4 percent above the 2000 total, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Friday.

The record harvest came in 1992, when 229,236 deer were shot. In 1991, 206,275 deer were taken by hunters.

After those record seasons, the DNR increased the number of antlerless permits offered to reduce the overall size of the deer herd. That, coupled with severe winters in the mid-1990s, caused deer populations and harvest numbers to fall through the late 1990s.

Harvests have been steadily climbing for the past three years as mild winters helped the herd rebound and as the DNR has gradually increased antlerless permits.

This year's harvest number doesn't include the muzzleloader season or the archery season, which continues through Dec. 31.

In Northeastern Minnesota, hunters took 31,437 deer during the 16-day Zone 1 season -- an increase of about 5 percent over last year.

The harvest was up nearly 15 percent in Northwestern Minnesota (62,800 deer) and down 15 percent in the southeast (19,200 deer). It was stable in other areas of the state.

The deer season included some days with temperatures in the 70s -- unusual for November, when many hunters expect snow.

It was the second time in three years that unusually warm weather greeted hunters. The DNR usually predicts higher harvests during mild seasons because hunters spend more time in the woods.

This year, though, the warm weather may have held the harvest down in some areas.

"Most hunters I talked with agreed that the deer were out there. But the weather was not favorable for deer movement or hunter activity. It was just too warm,'' said Steve Merchant, DNR forest wildlife program leader.

In Wisconsin, hunters shot about 300,000 deer during the regular nine-day gun deer season. While that figure is about 31 percent lower than the 437,000 deer shot during the 2000 season, it was only about 9 percent lower than the 10-year average of about 330,600.

Officials in Wisconsin also blamed warm, rainy weather for reducing the overall deer harvest.

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