Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest is on pace with that of the kill registered at this time last season.

A year ago, at the end of the second weekend of hunting, the firearms harvest stood at 155,528 animals. The harvest this year is almost identical, 155,126.

Barbara Keller, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) big game program leader, notes that harvest comparisons between this year and last must take into account that opening day this year was Nov. 9, whereas last year’s opener was Nov. 3.

(Minnesota’s firearms deer season begins the Saturday nearest Nov. 6.)

The most accurate harvest comparison between the two seasons, therefore, Keller notes, is not by dates in November, but by the number of days the season has been open.

The 155,126 deer killed so far in the firearms season this year is also almost exactly the same as the five-year harvest mean, and 11% higher than the 10-year mean.

Wisconsin opener coming Sunday

Wisconsin’s firearms deer season opens Saturday, and for the first time in 10 years, no whitetail management unit in the state will be restricted to bucks-only.

Particularly in the southern part of Wisconsin, DNR wildlife managers have had difficulty convincing hunters to kill enough does to bring deer populations into goal levels.

Archery and crossbow seasons, in fact, have been extended through Jan. 31, 2020, in some southern Wisconsin counties.

Wisconsin is home to an estimated 1.8 million deer, a number that might exceed Minnesota’s population by as many as a half-million animals. More temperate winters in most of Wisconsin is the primary reason for the difference.

Some northern Wisconsin hunters had wanted the DNR to restrict hunting there to bucks only to allow the herd in that region to rebuild.

Instead, the DNR will give out about 60% fewer antlerless permits in the region.

Wisconsin’s deer opener also is occurring relatively late in November, and it’s possible the whitetail rut will be wound down significantly by Saturday morning.

Wisconsin remains a popular destination for Minnesota deer hunters, who are reminded that carcass import restrictions exist between the two states, and that whole deer carcasses can’t be transported from Wisconsin into Minnesota.