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Deer hunt numbers: Bucks up, does down

Deer hunters in Douglas County had a tougher time of it this season - the total harvest was down about 8 percent from last year, according to preliminary numbers.

A total of 1,677 deer were registered in the county compared to 1,814 in 2008, according to Kevin Kotts, a Department of Natural Resources area wildlife supervisor in Glenwood.

(Kotts pointed out that it's highly unlikely that all those deer were actually killed in Douglas County; some were killed elsewhere and brought here and some that were killed here were likely registered elsewhere. But the numbers do offer some comparison.)

A drop in the harvest was somewhat expected, said Kotts, because the state reduced the number of anterless tags it issued this season.

The late harvest was also a factor. The deer had more standing rows of corn to hide and feed in, Kotts said. He estimated that at the start of the firearm season, 80 to 90 percent of the corn was still standing.

Here's a bit of a surprise with this year's hunt: The number of bucks taken increased.

Douglas County's adult buck registrations totaled 932, up nearly 10 percent from last year's harvest of 849.

The fact that the firearm season coincided directly with the deer rut season helped hunters by keeping bucks on the move, Kotts said.

The hunt in Douglas County falls in line with what happened in the five-county area that Kotts supervises.

The total deer harvest for Douglas, Pope, Grant, Stevens and Traverse was 2,997, a decrease of 12.5 percent from 2008's harvest of 3,389.

The number of bucks taken in the five-county area, on the other hand, increased from 1,884 to 1,932.

The deer hunting season isn't over yet; the archery season goes to the end of the year and the muzzleloader hunt started November 28 and continues through December 13.

Muzzleloaders should be ready for some action. Kotts noted that most of the corn that provided deer with cover during the firearm season is gone now.