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Deer hunting by the numbers

Area deer registrations

The number of deer killed during hunting season is down, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, said a local Department of Natural Resources wildlife manager.

In the area covered by the Detroit Lakes DNR office -- western Becker County, Mahnomen County and eastern Norman County -- the deer harvest is down 18 percent from 2008.

A total of 4,114 deer were registered in the region this season compared to 5,017 last year.

"Despite the fact that we're down 18 percent, it appears it's close to what we should be," said DNR wildlife manager Earl Johnson.

He said that a couple of factors played into the decreased numbers. The main reason was the warm weather and that deer tend to remain stationary in warm conditions.

"When you have warm weather and deer already have their winter coat, they're reluctant to move," Johnson said. "You have to get right on top of them."

Deer in warm weather tend to lie down, sometimes in water.

"Hunters usually aren't willing to hunt in hip boots," Johnson said.

Standing corn also made hunting a little more difficult in the area, as deer would hide in cornfields.

The decline was expected, Johnson said, because most of the hunting zones around Detroit Lakes were considered intensive deer areas until this year. The last few years have thinned numbers, especially in areas north of Highway 87 near Frazee.

"We're trying to rebuild deer numbers in those areas," Johnson said of why some zones changed from intensive to managed or lottery areas.

Hunters in an intensive area could only take one buck or doe, while hunters in a managed area could take two deer, and hunters in an intensive area could take up to five deer. Hunters could only take one buck.

"If you have too few deer, you don't shoot any does, while if you have too many deer, you shoot does," Johnson said.

While some hunters might complain over the change in the status of deer zones, Johnson said that a hunter ultimately makes the decision over whether to kill one.

"Hunters need to realize that they are the deer managers," Johnson said. "The DNR can only open the doors to deer management."

As far as safety is concerned, Johnson was pleased that there weren't any hunting-related firearms accidents.