Hunters harvested 68,823 Minnesota deer on opening weekend of the statewide firearms season, down 2% compared to a year ago, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
A year ago, the 10-day season ended with 155,975 whitetails registered by firearms users. That accounted for 82.6% of the total statewide harvest that also includes archery, muzzleloader and youth hunts.
Barbara Keller, DNR big-game program leader, said Tuesday she won't have an in-depth analysis of the hunt until it's over and she has time to look at the numbers. But there were concerns going into the weekend, she said, that lots of standing corn and water might hinder results.
Hunters would have to enjoy good success for the rest of the hunt to beat last year's overall total of 188,805 deer. That's because cumulative deer-license sales as of Friday were flat compared to a year ago at the same time.
This year the DNR is posting daily harvest updates for the combined 2019 deer seasons. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 97,000 deer had been registered. That includes 5,700 deer killed during the expanded statewide youth deer season Oct. 17-20 and an unspecified number of archery killed deer.
Keller said the largest abundance of deer taken this year, as usual, has come from Deer Permit Area 241 — a prime habitat in central and west central Minnesota where agricultural lands butt up against forests. More than 4,500 deer were registered there as of Tuesday morning.
The breakdown of the harvest by deer types is normal this year. As of Tuesday morning, yearling bucks and other adult bucks made up 58% of the kill. Adult does comprised 29% of the harvest, while juvenile deer made up the rest.
As of Tuesday afternoon, DNR Enforcement channels were not reporting any fatal hunting accidents. But DNR conservation officer Brian Holt of Osakis said he assisted the Todd County Sheriff's Office with a deer-hunting accident where a person was shot in the leg by a member of the same hunting party. Details were unavailable.