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Hunters register 70,724 deer during first weekend of Minnesota season

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 70,724 deer during the first two days of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered was essentially the same as from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 57 percent were bucks, compared to 67 percent of the first weekend harvest of 2016.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 16 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was down 5 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 20 percent.

“We expected to see an increased harvest this year, and that appears to be so in Zone 1. In the other zones where the first weekend harvest is off, it could be that the amount of standing corn negatively affected deer harvest,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “If that is the case, we should see improved deer harvest as more corn is harvested.”

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be around 200,000. The 2016 total harvest was 173,213.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 12. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.