NEW LONDON -- Hunters are looking forward to the opening of the deer firearm season on Saturday with lots of optimism, and they should.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that deer numbers are up, and one of the earliest corn harvests on record means deer have few places to hide, noted Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in New London.
A mild winter has helped the deer herd rebound in the area, said Miller. It also means a sizeable portion of this year's harvest will likely be young.
As part of the effort to rebuild the deer herd, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has limited the number of antlerless permits available.
That will reduce the overall harvest, but Miller said harvest numbers here may still be higher than some expect.
The early completion of farm harvest and field work means that there will likely be more farmers able to participate in the hunt than has been the case in recent years. Miller expects to see more pressure as a result.
A forecast for relatively mild weather could also contribute to a bigger harvest, as hunters will spend more time in the field.
Deer numbers are below the state's goals in some of the southwestern counties, but still good overall, according to Dave Trauba, wildlife manager with the DNR at Lac qui Parle.
The deer are active, and the absence of standing corn bodes well for hunters, he said. "I think we're going to have a good season this year,'' he said.
Last year approximately 500,000 hunters harvested 192,300 deer statewide, according to the DNR.