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Paynesville Press - October 12, 2005

DNR expects good deer harvest

With more than one million whitetail deer in the state, Minnesota's 500,000 deer hunters have been enjoying some of their best seasons ever.

This year should be no different according to wildlife managers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Statewide, the deer herd numbers 1.2 million, similar to last year when hunters harvested 260,600 deer, the second highest harvest on record. Hunters will also have additional opportunities to harvest deer, thanks to regulation changes.

"Hunters are our best tool for managing the state's deer populations, and we're making it easier for them to harvest antlerless deer where densities are high," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "We moved some zone boundaries for the first time in more than 25 years, adopted an early season antlerless hunt in limited areas, and liberalized hunting in the metro area."

"As an agency, we're putting a real emphasis on harvesting does. Taking a buck out of the population does little to lower overall numbers because one male can breed several females," he said. "If you want to control deer numbers, you need to reduce the number of females available for breeding."

This year, there are 57 intensive harvest permit areas, roughly two-thirds of the state, where hunters may use bonus tags to legally harvest up to five deer (only one buck). There are 42 managed permit areas where hunters may use a bonus tag to harvest up to two deer (only one buck). In 40 lottery permit areas, hunters need to apply for a permit to harvest antlerless deer.

To further encourage the harvest of additional deer, hunters may once again arrange to have deer donated to food shelves and other food distribution programs through approved meat processors. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Bluffland Whitetails, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, and the Safari Club are currently cooperating in the program. More details are available online at or at

Paul Telander and Jeff Lightfoot, regional wildlife managers, expect a similar season to last year, when firearms hunters harvested 71,800 deer in Zone 1 and 67,600 deer in Zone 2. "Barring poor weather, hunting is going to be good again this year," Telander said. "As usual we encourage hunters to talk to landowners to get permission to hunt prior to the opener of deer season."

Telander also urges hunters to check the regulations book for changes and additional hunting opportunities. Changes this year include the Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15-16, early antlerless season in permit areas 209, 210, 252, 256, and 257 and the realignment of the northwest zone boundary.

Although the zone boundaries have changed, the rifle-shotgun line remains the same as in previous years.

Lymph-node samples will be collected during the opening weekend of the firearm season in the Roseau County area. Bovine tuberculosis was discovered there in cattle earlier this year. Details about the bovine tuberculosis surveillance in wild deer will be released before the firearms deer season.

In central Minnesota, the DNR is encouraging hunters to shoot additional antlerless deer by offering hunting opportunities during the early antlerless season and in the newly created Metro Deer Management Zone.

In permit areas 228 and 337, the DNR has introduced a 22-day metro deer zone to maximize harvest where hunting is legal around the Twin Cities. From Saturday, Nov. 5, to Sunday, Nov. 27, hunters in permit areas 228 and 337 may use a firearm license valid for any zone to legally harvest up to five deer using bonus tags.

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