Deer harvest numbers drop
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Preliminary 2012 firearm deer harvest numbers across Minnesota were about what many expected with the lower number of antlerless deer permits issued as compared to a year ago.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released some early numbers that said 151,400 deer have already been harvested during the firearm season. The late 3B season in southeastern Minnesota was still open at the time and runs through November 25.
The overall antlered buck harvest increased 9 percent, while the antlerless harvest decreased by 21 percent compared to 2011. That led to a total firearm harvest that dropped about 7 percent compared to a year ago.
“The increase in buck harvest and decrease in antlerless deer harvest is a reflection of slightly higher deer populations statewide, yet a more conservative harvest philosophy this year,” DNR wildlife research manager Lou Cornicelli said in the release. “What drives total harvest is how we manage antlerless deer.”
Glenwood area wildlife manager Kevin Kotts said those statewide numbers are similar to the information he has seen coming out of local permit areas. Kotts said antlerless harvest was down by as much as 50 percent in some of those areas from where they were at a year ago.
“In general, buck harvest was up a little bit and typically antlerless harvest was down pretty significantly,” he said. “I think we expected the antlerless harvest to drop quite a lot because we dropped the number of permits in a lot of those areas.”
The DNR felt it was a necessary step to try and get a larger deer herd back into the state. The low number of does taken coming off a mild winter could set things up to see those numbers jump in another year or two.
“We’ll see,” Kotts said. “It’s always hard to tell exactly what’s happening with the deer herd, but what I saw from our areas, I wasn’t really surprised. We just didn’t hear from a lot of people who saw a lot of deer, so I think having the lower antlerless permits was probably a good idea.”
There are still plenty of hunting opportunities remaining statewide. The muzzleloader season runs from November 24 through December 9 and the archery season closes on December 31.
The deer harvest number is calculated using data provided by hunters when they register deer. A more detailed report will be available from the DNR at the end of January.