The news wasn't unexpected: Minnesota's firearms deer harvest is down 11.6 percent from last year. Hunters have killed 151,000 deer - 20,000 fewer than last year. Most of the decline is caused by 19,000 drop in antlerless deer harvest.
The buck harvest is about 1,200 behind last year.
DNR officials had predicted a lower harvest than last year because of reductions in the number of antlerless permits that were available to hunters. Officials still expect hunters -- including archers and muzzleloader hunters -- to bag around 200,000 deer this season. Hunters harvested about 222,000 deer last year.
Meanwhile, hunters in southeastern Minnesota provided samples from 2,350 deer to be tested for chronic wasting disease. And in northwestern Minnesota, 1,468 deer have been sampled for bovine TB.
Wisconsin harvest also down
Wisconsin's nine-day gun season opened Saturday, and hunters registered about 100,000 deer over the weekend -- a 25 percent decline from last year. Those numbers are preliminary and could increase. As in Minnesota, a drop in the antlerless deer harvest drove the decline. Hunters bagged about 50,000 antlerless deer this year, compared to 81,000 after opening weekend last year.
ONE UNUSUAL DEER
Andy Stoterau shot a rare piebald (two-toned) deer while hunting near Redwood Falls. It was a small, 7-point deer that walked past his stand on opening morning.
"I saw the white patch on his body, but I knew it was a whitetail buck,'' said Stoterau, 35, who was hunting with family and a friend. "I'd never even seen a piebald deer.'' Said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game manager: "They are fairly rare. They lack some pigmentation in their coat.'' They differ from albinos, which completely lack the pigment melanin.
Stoterau said the deer was beautiful. "The photo doesn't do it justice,'' said Stoterau, who grew up in Redwood Falls but lives now in Iowa.