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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday that firearm hunters harvested and registered 85,163 deer this past Saturday and Sunday, up very slightly from last year's 85,074.

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The early harvest numbers suggest the overall harvest will be somewhat higher than last year, when hunters took about 195,000 deer. Deer hunter numbers are also up this year.

"Statewide, we're off to a good start," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. "But as always, we will see significant regional variability in deer population."

Cornicelli said the new online and phone deer registration options make it difficult to make precise comparisons between this year's harvest and last year's harvest. Unlike previous years, when hunters took their deer to registration stations, 54 percent of this year's successful hunters simply registered their deer by computer or phone

Also, as of Monday, the DNR had issued 431,268 firearms licenses, up from 423,883 last year. Youth licenses accounted for a portion of the increase, including an increase in licenses for 10- and 11-year-old deer hunters.

The regular firearms season will continue through Nov. 21 in northeastern Minnesota.

Accident central

Authorities in Otter Tail County responded to three separate hunting accidents during the weekend deer opener, including two that involved injuries after hunting stands collapsed.

About 3 p.m. Saturday, 24-year-old Melissa Johnson of Henning was hunting with her boyfriend east of Perham in a wooden deer stand on privately owned land, the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office said.

The wooden floor of the deer stand suddenly collapsed, and Johnson fell about 5 feet to the ground, suffering injuries to her lower legs. Johnson was taken by ambulance to Perham Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

The sheriff's office responded to another incident about 4:30 p.m. Saturday near Richville.

A 16-year-old male from Richville was resting the muzzle of a rifle on his boot when he heard a deer and grabbed the rifle, the sheriff's office said. The rifle went off and the male suffered a gunshot wound to the left foot.

He was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.

On Sunday about 10 a.m., an 81-year-old man suffered leg injuries after the platform of his deer stand collapsed, causing him to fall 12 to 15 feet, the sheriff's office said.

Thomas Shulstad of Pelican Rapids was hunting alone but was able to use his cell phone to call for help.

"He was pretty lucky," Fitzgibbons said.

Shulstad was taken to a Fargo hospital with a possible broken leg.

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