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Early deer harvest similar to 2009

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials report that firearm hunters harvested and registered 85,163 deer during the first two days of the season, up very slightly from last year's 85,074.

The early harvest numbers suggest the overall harvest will be somewhat higher than last year when hunters took about 195,000 deer. Deer hunter numbers are also up this year.

"Statewide, we're off to a good start," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. "But, as always, we will see significant regional variability in deer population."

Cornicelli said the new online and toll-free phone deer registration options make it difficult to make precise comparisons between this year's harvest and last year's harvest.

Unlike previous years, when hunters took their deer to registration stations, 54 percent of this year's successful hunters simply registered their deer by computer or phone

Also, as of Monday, the DNR had issued 431,268 firearms licenses, up from 423,883 last year. Youth licenses accounted for a portion of the increase, including an increase in licenses for 10- and 11-year-old deer hunters.

Hunters in southeastern Minnesota, where a new antler point restriction regulation went into effect this year, harvested fewer bucks and more antlerless deer. Buck harvest was down 28 percent and antlerless harvest was up 23 percent.

The regular firearms season will continue through Sunday for most of the state. It will continue through Nov. 21 in northeastern Minnesota, including the Bemidji area. The late southeast firearms season is Nov. 20-28.