CAMP RIPLEY -- Archers harvested 188 deer, including six bucks weighing more than 200 pounds, during the first two-day bowhunt at Camp Ripley this year.
"Despite below-average temperatures and wet, snowy conditions, Camp Ripley archery hunters enjoyed another good hunt last week," said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager.
The harvest is a 4 percent increase over last year's two-day total of 180, and 49 percent above the 1981-2001 average of 126 deer for the first hunt.
"If the weather cooperates on the second weekend," Liddell said, "the total harvest for the four-day hunt should match or exceed last year's, which was the fourth largest on record. Last year's four-day harvest totaled 350 deer, which was seven percent below the 2000 harvest of 375, but 36 percent above the long-term average of 257."
There were 3,250 permits issued for the hunt -- same as last year -- and 1,903 hunters participated. The hunter success rate was about 10 percent -- same as last year -- and two percent higher than the long-term average of eight percent.
"With five consecutive mild winters, Camp Ripley's deer herd appears to be in good condition," Liddell said. "Most hunters said they saw many deer each day. The good harvest experienced thus far is due to a combination of high deer densities (estimated at 20 to 30 deer per square mile) and a high number of hunters in Camp."
The largest buck weighed 235 pounds and was taken by Vince Meyer, outdoors editor at the Daily Dispatch. Michael Dhaene, Henderson, and Tracy Samuelson, New Ulm, harvested bucks weighing 216 pounds and 213 pounds, respectively. The largest doe (143 pounds) was taken by William Garceau, Foley. Joshua Petroske, Becker, harvested a doe nearly as big, 141 pounds, and Thomas Waibel, St. Cloud, harvested a doe weighing 137 pounds.
DNR and Camp Ripley environmental workers sampled 62 deer to test for chronic wasting disease.
"I'd be surprised if we found CWD in Camp Ripley's deer herd," Liddell said. "Nevertheless, we need to determine if the disease is here. The special hunts at Camp provide a good opportunity to obtain samples."
The second two-day hunt took place this weekend, Oct. 26-27. Full results will be published in next Sunday's North Country section.
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