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Minnesota deer harvest up 10 percent from last year

Minnesota's firearms deer harvest through the first two weekends of season was up 10 percent from last year, the Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday. (Photo/ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

The opening weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season Nov. 4 and 5 lagged behind last year in some parts of the state, but hunter success through the second weekend improved to surpass 2016, the Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday.

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 145,054 deer through Sunday, Nov. 12, the DNR said.

Preliminary results through the second weekend show the number of deer registered was up 10 percent from 2016, the DNR said. Of the deer harvested, 54 percent were bucks, compared with 63 percent during the same period in 2016.

"It appears as though deer harvest improved substantially since the first weekend," said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager for the DNR in St. Paul. "Getting more corn out of the fields and a bit drier weather likely helped."

In Zone 1 of northeast Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 25 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state, including northwest Minnesota, and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 6 percent.

Hunters in Zone 3 of southeast Minnesota registered 12 percent fewer deer than last year.

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting hunters this year will kill about 200,000 deer between the archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. Hunters last year registered 173,213 deer between the three seasons, the DNR said.

In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Sunday, Nov. 12. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which opens Saturday, Nov. 18 and continues through Sunday, Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 25 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10.

North Dakota's deer gun season opened at noon Friday and continues through Sunday, Nov. 26. The Game and Fish Department doesn't require hunters to register deer so no harvest numbers are available.