Minnesota firearms hunters registered 128,174 deer through the third weekend of firearms deer season, up from 112,715 from the same period in 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
So far this fall, hunters have registered 145,383 deer, up from the 2014 same-date harvest of 128,134, DNR officials said. That total includes the archery, early antlerless and firearms seasons, plus special hunts.
Preliminary numbers show that the number of deer registered has increased 13.5 percent from 2014.
Buck harvest during the firearms season was up 18.4 percent from last year, indicating that the population has grown from its low point two springs ago, DNR wildlife officials said.
The Zone 1 (including Northeastern Minnesota) total firearms harvest was up 11 percent. Zone 2 was up 15.5 percent, and Zone 3 was up 7.7 percent. Buck harvest was up significantly in all zones.
Going into the season, the DNR had projected the 2015 total deer harvest to be between 140,000 to 155,000 deer. The 2014 total harvest after last year’s conservative season was just over 139,000.
The Zone 1 firearms deer season ended Sunday. The muzzleloader season begins Saturday and will continue through Dec. 13. The archery season continues through Dec. 31.