Minnesota firearms hunters registered 161,057 deer through the third weekend of deer season, the Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday.
Preliminary results through the third weekend show the number of deer registered was up 16 percent from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 53 percent were bucks, compared with 63 percent during the same period in 2016.
In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 36 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state, including northwest Minnesota, and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 10 percent. Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 5 percent.
“The conditions were generally good for hunters participating in the last week of the Zone 1 season and for the start of the 3B season in the southeast, which provided a boost to the statewide firearms harvest,” said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader.
Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be be about 200,000. Hunters last year shot 173,213 deer between the archery, firearms and muzzleloader seasons, and to date, firearms and archery hunters have taken about 180,000 deer this year.
In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Nov. 12, and the northern rifle zone season ended Nov. 19. The late southeast firearms deer season is open through Sunday, Nov. 26.
The muzzleloader season begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10.