Minnesota's muzzleloader deer hunters had an excellent opening weekend, shooting 2,313 whitetails Saturday and Sunday -- a 47 percent increase over last year.
"It was a pretty good start to the muzzleloader season,'' said Lou Cornicelli, Department of Natural Resources big game manager.
Last year, hunters shot 1,577 deer the first two days of the season. Cornicelli said he doesn't know why harvest is up but said the snow that fell in the state Tuesday should help hunters.
The muzzleloader harvest means hunters have killed 197,000 deer so far in 2010, including the regular firearms, archery and muzzleloader seasons. Cornicelli figures the tally should hit around 210,000 by the time the deer season closes.
The southeast and metro firearms seasons ended Sunday, leaving only the muzzleloader and archer seasons open. The muzzleloader season closes Dec. 12 and the archery season closes Dec. 31.
Wisconsin harvest up
Deer hunters in Wisconsin shot 218,144 whitetails, according to a preliminary tally for the nine-day gun deer hunt, an 11 percent increase over last year's total of 196,688.
Statewide, hunters registered 102,006 bucks (a 17 percent increase over 2009) and 116,138 antlerless deer (a nearly 7 percent increase over 2009). Gun deer license sales totaled 621,094.
And for only the second time ever, there were no firearms-related hunter fatalities.
Ice fishing, snowmobiling
Ice anglers already have been cautiously venturing onto some northern Minnesota lakes, including Upper Red Lake and bays on Lake of the Woods. Some ice fishing shelters even have begun to pop up on some lakes, reports DNR conservation officers. But they urged extreme caution, noting that many lakes still have open water.
"If there is any doubt, don't go,'' advised officer Greg Oldakowski of Wadena.
Meanwhile, many snowmobilers were out over the weekend in northern Minnesota, parts of which had a foot of snow before Tuesday's snowfall. Grant-in-aid trails officially open Wednesday. But again, officials urge caution. A snowmobiler broke through thin ice in a wetland near Cook and had to be rescued.
Turkey license applications
Minnesota's spring turkey hunters have more time this year to apply for a license. The deadline has been extended by about two weeks, giving hunters until Jan. 14 to apply for a license, which are distributed in a lottery. Youths 17 and younger by April 13 can buy a license over the counter.