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Almost 120,000 deer bagged by hunters, but baiting is on the rise

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It proved another fruitful weekend for deer hunters as the firearms season came to a close across much of Minnesota, with almost 120,000 deer bagged through the second weekend.

The DNR says that 118,599 deer had been registered by the end of the second weekend of firearms deer season, a significant rise on the 104,785 in the same period in 2014.

The season is now over for most of the state, but hunts will continue in the northern rifle zone until this Sunday. The late southeastern season runs between Nov. 21-29, and the two-week muzzleloader season starts on Nov. 28.

By the end of these seasons, the DNR expects between 140,000 and 150,000 deer will have been registered.

This number is still lower than many recent years, as stricter kill limits are still in place. It's part of the DNR's conservation effort that it says is already bearing fruit, with hunters said to be seeing more deer – albeit ones they can't shoot.

The DNR also says the buck harvest is up 18 percent in the first 10 days of firearms season compared to last year, indicating the buck population has grown from its "low point two springs ago."

While it's proving a better season for hunters, not all of them are acting in a sportsmanlike fashion after they put on the blaze orange.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the DNR had issued 140 citations and 42 warnings to hunters for baiting as of this past Thursday, well ahead of the 147 violations it issues on average every year.

Deer baiting, in which hunters place corn, apples, pumpkins and other food near deer stands to attract the animals, has been illegal in Minnesota since 1991, the newspaper notes, but is the top violation among big game hunters in the state.

“Philosophically, I think it’s an instant-gratification thing," DNR regional enforcement supervisor Tom Provost told the newspaper. "I think people are wanting to get two weeks of hunting into two days and up their odds."

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