Minnesota firearms season deer harvest down

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s firearms deer hunters haven’t been as lucky as last year.

Excluding a late season in southeastern Minnesota, which closed Dec. 1, hunters killed about 144,000 deer, down 6 percent from 2012. The preliminary numbers from the Department of Natural Resources also show hunters took 4,400 deer in the late season, down 600 from last year.

Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife population and regulations manager, says poor weekend weather was a factor, but the deer population was down because of the harsh winter of 2012-13, which led the agency to be conservative in the number of antlerless permits issued for northern Minnesota.

Overall, Minnesota’s firearms, muzzleloader and archery hunters have registered 164,500 deer as of last Wednesday.

The muzzleloader season remains open through Sunday. The archery season closes Dec. 31.

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