Ideal hunting weather during the opening weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season helped hunters harvest 207,000 deer during the 2010 season, according to Minnesota DNR officials.
This year's kill is an increase of almost seven percent from the 2009 harvest of 194,186 and is the 13th largest harvest on record. Minnesota's deer harvests have moderated in recent years because the deer herd is at or near population goals across much of Minnesota. Due to varying local population differences, some areas of the state may have experienced a lower harvest rate.
"We didn't see a dramatic change in harvest this year because half of our deer permit areas were in the lottery designation, which allows for the harvest of only one deer annually," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.
Firearms hunters harvested 176,200 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 21,500 and 9,300 deer, respectively. Archery hunters harvested four percent more deer in 2010. The muzzleloader kill increased 12 percent from 2009.
Good weather during the opening weekend of firearms deer season likely resulted in hunters remaining in the field longer, which increased their chances of harvesting a deer. Also, most crops had been harvested, which reduced the amount of standing cover available to deer.
Once final population estimates are completed this spring, DNR officials will evaluate them against established population goals to determine the antlerless permit areas for 2011.
"Hunters should pay close attention to the hunting synopsis, which comes out in late July, to see if they need to apply for a lottery either-sex permit," Cornicelli said.
Next year's firearms deer hunting opener will be Nov. 5.