Minnesota firearms deer hunters have registered 128,174 deer as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Natural Resources, compared to 112,715 last year for the same period, an increase of about 14 percent.

Of deer killed, bucks numbered 82,101 vs. last year’s 69,320, up 18 percent.

In Zone 1 during the firearms season, the buck harvest rose 17 percent. It increased 20 percent in Zone 2 and 10 percent in Zone 3.

Minnesota’s total deer harvest this fall since the opening of archery in mid-September is 145,383, compared with 128,134 a year ago.

Increase in Wisconsin, too

Wisconsin’s opening weekend deer harvest was up about 16 percent from the same period a year ago, according to that state’s DNR.

Total kill during the firearms opener last weekend was 119,495, the DNR said, an increase from the 103,428 registered during the period in 2014.

Statewide in Wisconsin, the DNR reports the opening weekend buck harvest rose 13 percent from 2014 and the doe kill was about 20 percent higher.

The Wisconsin general firearms deer season continues through Sunday.

Mille Lacs pike limit set

The Mille Lacs northern pike limit this winter is five, whether the fish are taken by hook and line or spear, the DNR said this week.

Only one northern can exceed 30 inches, and the harvest and possession of two pike less than 30 inches on the same day is required before anglers can harvest, or spearers can stick, a northern longer than 30 inches.

Anglers can party fish on Mille Lacs, and northerns exceeding 30 inches can be kept as long as the party has at least two small pike for each large pike harvested.

Spearers can’t party fish, and therefore each spearer must harvest two small pike before lampooning a larger pike. Spearers also can’t accept pike caught by another person in order to fulfill the two-small-pike requirement.

“Be sure to check ice thickness before you go out and as you travel on early ice,” said Brad Parsons, DNR central region fisheries manager.


• About $60 million of the $111 million in habitat projects recommended to the Legislature by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council will help pheasants, according to Kevin Lines, who heads up the DNR’s pheasant restoration plan. The funding package includes $20 million to acquire public lands, $25 million for private land easements and $15 million to enhance grasslands and wetlands on public and private lands.