Freeze, varmint! Number of small-game hunters goes up in MN

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Did somebody say squirrel meat? Delicious. At least to some.

To that end, more Minnesotans hunted for ruffed grouse, ducks and geese, pheasants, squirrels and rabbits last season than the previous year, according to a recently published state report.

The Pioneer Press takes a look at the nearly across-the-board bump in hunting activity during the 2012-13 season when compared with the 2011-12 season. The paper reports it is a surprise considering that ruffed grouse and pheasant populations are well below recent averages, and hunting for squirrels, rabbits and other small game has been in general decline for years.

But, still, there's no reason to, uh ... grouse about it. (Sorry.)

The story cites the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' annual Small Game Hunter Survey, which surveys people who purchased hunting licenses.

More than 295,000 small-game licenses were sold last season, compared with fewer than 291,000 the previous year, according to the report. The number reflects the third straight year of increased sales and is comparable to numbers seen in the middle of the previous decade. However, it's well below the more than 320,000 licenses sold in the late 1990s, says the PiPress.

Meanwhile, dove-hunting season has opened, and WCCO says the DNR estimates that 13,000 hunters take part on the annual hunts and harvest more than 100,000 of the birds each year.

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