Archers Harvest a Record 484 Deer

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Hunters enjoyed another successful hunt this past weekend and set a record harvest at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

Archers harvested 200 deer during the hunt, and took five bucks weighing 200 pounds or more. There were 284 deer taken during the previous hunt, for a record of 484 deer harvested in 2004. "This represents a 52 percent increase from the 2003 harvest of 318 deer, and a 19 percent increase from the previous record harvest of 406 deer taken in 1992," said Beau Liddell, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Little Falls area wildlife manager.

A combined total of 4,521 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 3,836 hunters participating. Hunter success over both hunts was 12 percent, about four percent higher than the 20-year average of eight percent. This year for the first time in history, hunters at Camp were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer.

"I'm very pleased with the results this year, but the changes we made only partly explain the strong harvest," said Liddell. "We were hoping for a significant increase in the proportion of does and fawns taken during the hunt. After looking at the harvest data, the doe and fawn harvest increased which was good, but so did the numbers of bucks taken. In addition, only 14 hunters took advantage of the increased bag limit and harvested two animals."

In the end, the proportion of antlerless deer taken this year at Camp was no different than the past 20-year average with about 55 percent of the harvest comprised of does or fawns. "We simply had a larger overall harvest and allowing the use of bonus permits and changing the bag limit didn't affect the antlerless harvest as much as I hoped it would. Ripley bow hunters continue to demonstrate their selectivity for bucks during these hunts," stated Liddell.

The largest buck during the weekend hunt weighed 235 pounds, taken by Adam Leuthner of Watertown. Other hunters who harvested large bucks were: Michael Gustafson, St. Hilaire, 232 pounds; Ronald Kuehne, Grey Eagle, 219 pounds; Kurt Rayhorn, Niellsville, WI, 205 pounds; Alan Pilarski, St. Cloud, 201 pounds. Michael Schultz of Isanti harvested the largest doe, weighing in at 133 pounds.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000 acre reservation.