Firearms Deer Harvest Likely Second Highest on Record

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Although the final tally may change, this year's firearms deer harvest will likely be the second highest on record, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Minnesota hunters harvested an estimated 229,500 white-tailed deer during the statewide firearms deer season, just topping the 1992 harvest of 229,236. Archery and muzzleloader harvest totals have not yet been estimated so the final statewide deer harvest will likely increase. In 2003, 253,000 deer were taken by firearms.

"We didn't expect a record this year, so we're very happy with these numbers," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "Conditions this past fall didn't favor hunters quite as much as 2003. The weather was warm, some crops were still in the fields and we've lowered deer populations in some areas."

DNR officials said hunters reacted very positively to the simplified antlerless permit process as part of the agency's on-going effort to simplify regulations. This year, management and intensive harvest permits were combined into a single bonus permit. Most hunters were able to obtain antlerless permits without applying in the state's permit lottery system. Hunters purchased 183,000 antlerless permits, over the counter.

The final season report, which includes archery and muzzleloader harvests as well as final firearms deer harvest totals, will be posted this winter on the DNR Web site at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/index.html.

"It's possible our final calculation for the 2004 firearms harvest could shift downward, making it the third-highest total on record." Cornicelli said. "Either way, it's a significant harvest and we're pleased to see hunters taking advantage of opportunities to harvest deer."