Deer Harvest is the Third Highest on Record

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Record harvests by archery and muzzleloader hunters pushed the deer harvest during 2005 above 255,500, the third highest harvest ever recorded, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today.

The statewide firearms harvest was down 6 percent, but the archery harvest increased 11 percent and muzzleloader harvest increased 50 percent. Firearms hunters harvested 216,700 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 23,200 and 14,000 deer, respectively. Hunters who participated in the early antlerless season on Oct. 15-16 harvested 1,600 deer.

"Minnesota deer hunters enjoyed yet another great deer season," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "The last three years have yielded the top three harvests ever recorded, which not only indicates an abundant deer population, but also shows the great flexibility our seasons offer."

Use of the all-season license, which allows hunters to harvest deer during the archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons, has increased dramatically in recent years. The 59,000 hunters who purchased an all-season license this year likely contributed to the record archery and muzzleloader harvest.

"We're seeing a dramatic increase in muzzleloader hunters over the past few years," Cornicelli said. "I think people are really grabbing on to the fact they can extend their time in the field by getting into muzzleloader hunting, which overall isn't very expensive."

Given this year's record 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.

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.

For the 2006 season, the deadline for the either-sex permit application is Sept. 7. Archery deer hunting begins Sept. 16. The statewide firearms deer-hunting season opens Nov. 4. The muzzleloader season opens Nov. 25.