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Paynesville Press - January 2, 2002

Deer harvest is third highest

Despite the unusually warm weather that dominated this year's deer season, the 2001 Minnesota firearms deer harvest was the third highest on record, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Hunters harvested 200,100 deer statewide, an increase of 8,500 deer (four percent) compared with the very successful 2000 season.

This year's firearms deer harvest total is exceeded only by harvests in 1991 when 206,275 deer were taken and 1992 when 229,236 deer were taken, according to DNR records.

The higher harvest was expected, although preseason expectations were even higher, said Steve Merchant, leader of the DNR Forest Wildlife Program. He attributed the harvest increase to more antlerless permits offered by the DNR, but said the unusually warm weather throughout the season may have hampered achieving an even larger deer harvest.

"For the second year in a row, the northern forested region is where the increased harvest occurred," said Merchant. "The deer harvest was actually down somewhat in southern Minnesota, especially the southeast."

The harvest by region was:
• Northwest: 62,800 deer, up nearly 15 percent;
• Northeast: 31,437, up about five percent;
• Central: 64,804, up about three percent;
• Southwest: 17,671, little change;
• Southeast: 19,200, down nearly five percent;
• Metro: 4,200, nearly unchanged.

Warm weather likely contributed to the somewhat disappointing harvest in southern Minnesota, said Merchant. "Most hunters I talked with agreed that the deer were out there, but the weather was not favorable for deer movement or hunter activity. It was just too warm," he explained.

Minnesota's archery deer season continues through the end of December. The DNR will issue a final deer report this winter on its website at

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