Firearm deer hunting season opens Saturday with new guidelines to help hunters.
With an estimated deer population of 1.3 million statewide, Steve Merchant, wildlife population and regulation manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the state has intentionally been decreasing the deer population over the last several years.
"We are land managers, and overabundant deer populations can cause a decrease in the productivity of our forests.," Merchant said. "There's a significant economy based upon forest resources in the state."
Merchant said deer hunting culture in Minnesota is strong, and the number of hunters remains steady. Merchant says hunters kill about 250,000 deer each year.
The DNR wants to keep the state's number of hunters up by recruiting younger people. The deer population is capable of growing at a strong rate and if hunters aren't available to kill deer, the state will have to cull herds, Merchant said.
New DNR guidelines have been written that allow a "hunter choice" option.
"Basically, hunters can go deer hunting to an area and they can take a grand total of one deer and it can be of either sex," Merchant said. "I think hunters like it because it's very simple and easy to understand, and they can just go out and they can shoot a deer, and they don't have to worry about anything else.