Record Firearms Whitetail Deer Harvest
Minnesota deer hunters harvested a record 253,300 white-tailed deer during the firearms deer seasons that concluded Nov. 30, according to a preliminary summary of deer registration by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The 2003 firearms deer harvest increased nearly 25 percent from the 2002 total of 203,600, and is up more than 10 percent over the previous record firearms harvest of 229,200 in 1992, according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.
"Good weather, healthy deer populations, and a simplified system of distributing lots of licenses for antlerless deer all contributed to the record harvest," Cornicelli said.
Preliminary estimates also indicate a significant increase in the proportion of the harvest that consisted of antlerless deer, which is important for deer population management.
"We needed a high harvest this year to help keep deer populations within goal levels, so we are very pleased with these results," Cornicelli said.
The 2003 firearms total alone also surpasses the previous record statewide total deer harvest (by all methods) of 243,000 in 1992. That harvest included deer taken in the archery and muzzleloader seasons. Archery and muzzleloader seasons continue into December, so those 2003 harvest totals are not yet available. Typically, more than 19,000 deer are taken during those seasons. When all seasons are concluded, this year's total deer harvest should exceed 270,000, Cornicelli said.
Hunters responded well to the new deer management system and purchased a record number of licenses to take antlerless deer this year, according to Cornicelli. The total number of firearms hunters increased by only 2.7 percent more than 2002, but nearly 100,000 more licenses valid for antlerless deer were purchased this year.