Deer hunters in Minnesota have bagged about 180,000 deer so far this season, down about 7 percent from this time last year. Firearms hunters have killed 161,000 deer, down 10,000 -- or 6 percent -- from 2010. The decline still is blamed on poor harvest opening weekend of the firearms season because of high winds.

"Since the opener, the harvest most days has been up from last year," said Lou Cornicelli, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) big-game coordinator. Cornicelli said he still thinks total harvest -- including archery, regular firearms and muzzleloader -- will approach 200,000 for the season.

The muzzleloader season opens Saturday and runs to Dec. 11. Around 55,000 muzzleloader hunters are expected afield again this season.


The DNR has taken almost 2,300 samples from deer killed by hunters in the Pine Island area to test for chronic wasting disease, and so far lab results have come back on 1,600.

None tested positive for the fatal brain disease.

Wisconsin harvest up

Deer hunters in Wisconsin registered 112,581 deer over the weekend, up 5.6 percent from last year.

Of those, 57,977 were bucks (compared with 54,263 in 2010) and 54,604 were antlerless deer (52,141 in 2010).

Total firearms license sales were about 604,000 for the weekend, down less than 1 percent from 2010.