Kill up as gun deer hunt draws to a close

St. Paul — Hunters are on track to kill about 10 percent more
deer this year than they did last year.

As of earlier this week, they’d killed and registered 171,000 deer,
compared with 156,600 at the same time last year.

“It’s looking like once everything is said and done, we’re looking
at about 215,000 for the statewide kill,” said Lou Cornicelli, big
game program coordinator for the DNR.

The firearms season has ended in much of the state, though the B
season in Zone 3 opened last weekend. The archery season is
ongoing, and the muzzleloader season begins Saturday.

Given the freezing rain and snow that fell in many areas on Sunday
– the final day of the Zone 1 season – it’s likely harvest for that
day will be down from last year, Cornicelli said.

“We’re going to take a bite that third weekend,” he said. “But the
flipside is that third weekend really doesn’t amount to much
(harvest) anyway. It never does.”

While Cornicelli hasn’t yet broken down totals from the various
areas of the state, he expects the kill in the southwest will be up
“pretty substantially.” One of the big reasons: There was an
abundance of standing corn last year, but not this year, which made
deer more accessible to hunters.

“I’ve been hearing it was a pretty good deer season in the
southwest part of the state,” he said.

With the exception of the southeast, where new antler-point
regulations have limited the number of deer people can shoot, and
areas of the state that shifted to a more conservative management
strategy, Cornicelli expects harvest in most areas to be up from
last year.

Zone 3

Anecdotal reports suggest the antler-point restrictions that
required deer to have four points on one side before adult hunters
could shoot them have had an effect. Cornicelli has heard from a
few 3B hunters who were put off that they saw a lot of yearling
bucks, but couldn’t shoot them.

“That’s purely a function of those bucks not being shot during the
A season (because of the restriction),” he said. “Folks need to be
patient for next year. I think it’s going to be a totally different
deer season.”

The buck harvest during 3A was down by more than one-quarter from
last year.

Cornicelli expects the antlerless deer harvest to be up from last
year in Zone 3, but he’s not sure to what degree because of the
inclement weather during the final weekend of 3A and the opening
weekend of 3B.

“We should see an increase (in antlerless harvest) was a result of
antler-point restrictions,” he said. “I just hope it wasn’t
tempered by the weather.”

Following are reports from conservation officers who worked the
opening of the 3B season:

•  CO Steve Walter, who patrols the Waconia area, said he saw few
hunters and few deer shot.

• It was busy in the Hastings area, and several nice deer were
killed, reported CO Patrick McGowan.

• CO Tony Salzer patrolled Dakota County and checked a young man
hunting deer for the first time. After 90 minutes in a blind, the
hunter had killed a 13-point buck.

• It was one of the quietest 3B openers in memory, according to CO
Scott Moran, who patrols the Wabasha area.

• Hunters in the Zumbrota area had some success, said CO Kevin
Prodzinski.

• Hunters took good numbers of deer in the Winona area, said CO Tom
Hemker.

• There was perfect weather in the Rochester area, but fewer
hunters than in the past, said CO Dan McBroom.

• There were fewer hunters in the Plainview area than in the past,
and they had mixed success, according to CO Joel Heyn.

Categories: Hunting News

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