2004 Deer Harvest is the Second Highest on Record

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Minnesota hunters harvested more than 260,600 deer during 2004, the second highest deer harvest ever recorded, according to final numbers announced today by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Firearms hunters harvested 230,500 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 20,750 and 9,300 deer, respectively. The record deer harvest of 290,000 was set in 2003.

"The harvest was close to what we predicted and on target in terms of making every effort to manage the herd at responsible levels," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "We're pleased that hunters continue to step and harvest deer."

Cornicelli credits high deer harvests in the past two years to high deer populations, abundant hunting opportunities and regulation changes that made it easier to obtain permits to harvest antlerless deer.

In 2003, regulations were changed to allow hunters to harvest antlerless deer in most of the state without applying for a permit. This past year, hunters were given the opportunity to harvest antlerless deer throughout their zone where bonus permits were authorized.

Given this year's mild winter weather in much of the state, DNR wildlife officials expect ample deer harvest opportunities for hunters again this fall. "We will continue to promote antlerless deer harvest as a population management tool," Cornicelli said.

Winter mortality is expected to be significant in an area north from Duluth to Warroad where deep snow cover lingered into March.

The final deer harvest number is computed using information provided by hunters when they register their deer. A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us in the coming weeks

This year's deadline for the either-sex permit application is Sept. 8. Archery deer hunting will begin Sept. 17. The statewide firearms deer hunting season will open on Nov. 5.