Whitetail hunters ahead of ’09 pace
By Joe Albert
St. Paul — After the second weekend of the firearms deer season,
hunters still are on pace to kill more animals than last year.
As of earlier this week, they had registered more than 153,000
deer during the firearms season, compared with 146,000 at the same
time last year. That’s an increase of about 5 percent.
During the first three days of the season, which accounts for
about half of the deer taken for the entire deer season, hunters
killed 106,000 whitetails. That’s about 15,000 deer more than
hunters shot during the first three days of the 2009 season.
“It was a good opening weekend,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game
program coordinator for the DNR. “I haven’t been getting the ‘this
is the worst season ever’ emails.”
As of earlier this week, second-weekend hunters had killed and
registered just under 30,000 deer, which is about the same as last
year. But Cornicelli expects the total kill for the weekend to go
up as much as 15 percent once all registrations are in.
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s Mark Johnson says he’s
heard mostly positive things from hunters.
“So far, most people have been pretty happy and just really
enjoying the season, from what I’ve heard,” he said.
Reports from around the state, especially the southwest,
indicate a higher-than-normal number of bucks have been taken.
Marshall-area Conservation Officer Matt Loftness reported
earlier this week: “Overall, a lot of nice bucks were harvested
during the firearms deer season.”
And Jim Robinson, CO in the Slayton area: “Good success on buck
harvest was seen with numerous small bucks harvested.”
Hunters last year killed about 54,000 bucks opening weekend.
They killed about 57,750 this year, Cornicelli said.
Part of that increase likely has to do with the fact that far
more corn was harvested this year than last year. In many of those
areas where corn is the prevalent cover type, buck harvest was down
last year, he said.
“We held some bucks over that likely wouldn’t have otherwise
survived last year’s gun season,” Cornicelli said. “Deer are very
vulnerable out there. When the corn is up, they are well protected,
and when it’s down, they’re not at all.”
Given that in many areas of the state hunters don’t have to take
their deer to a registration station – they can register their
animal online or via the phone – Cornicelli reminds hunters not to
forget to register them.
“There’s nothing that would indicate people aren’t doing it, by
any stretch,” he said.
But registration numbers are a vital part of managing deer in
the state, so “it’s really important folks do it, even if it’s a
little late,” Cornicelli said.