Deer hunters in Crow Wing and Cass County will set a harvest record for the second straight year, the DNR said today.
"How much higher is still unknown," said Gary Drotts, DNR area wildlife manager. "But right now it looks like it'll be about 15 percent higher."
Last year's area harvest was 15,211, so an increase of 15 percent would place this year's harvest around 17,000-18,000 deer. Thirty-five area registration stations are monitored by the local DNR. Registration numbers to date for six stations include:
* Mill Avenue Holiday station -- 769 total registrations as of today, the same number as all of last year. "But Zone 1, archery and muzzleloader seasons are still open," Drotts said, "so I'd expect that station will get another 40 to 50 deer."
* Checkered Flag Conoco, Highway 371 -- 343 deer registered, up 51 percent. "Koep's is closed this year so that might have led to the increase," Drotts said. "For hunters to the north the Conoco was their next closest station."
* Tutt's Bait and Tackle, Garrison -- 550 deer registered, up 14.8 percent.
* Thorsen's Market, Pine Center -- 313 deer registered, up 16.3 percent.
* Deerwood Convenience Store, Deerwood -- 608 deer registered, up 8.6 percent.
* Pillsbury Junction, Pillager -- 925 deer registered, up 24 percent.
All of the above six stations had increases, but Drotts said that wasn't the case everywhere.
"Some were down and others were flat," Drotts said. "But looking at all the data it appears we'll have an overall harvest increase in this area of around 15 to 20 percent."
Especially gratifying for the local DNR is the increased antlerless harvest.
"This year it looks like we'll shoot more antlerless deer than bucks," Drotts said. "Around Brainerd last year antlerless deer made up 56.8 percent of our overall harvest. This year I expect it'll be a few percentage points higher. That's a big turnaround from five years ago."
Elsewhere in Minnesota it appears hunters are doing equally as well. Drotts credits the increase in antlerless permits for big harvest increases around Grand Rapids and Tower.
Zone 1 firearms season closes one-half hour after sunset Sunday. Muzzleloader season is Nov. 29-Dec. 14 and archery season runs through Dec. 31.
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