Additional Deer Hunting Opportunities In Minnesota

  • Licenses available now; deadline to apply for antlerless permit is Sept. 7 

ST PAUL, MINN. — Additional deer hunting opportunities will be available this fall thanks to a series of mild winters and conservative hunting regulations, which have resulted in rebounding deer populations across Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Deer populations have responded well to favorable winter weather and our efforts to rebuild deer numbers, and we have been able to expand harvest opportunities in almost all areas of the state this fall,” said Adam Murkowski, big game program leader for the DNR.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits now. The deadline to apply for the antlerless permit lottery is Thursday, Sept. 7. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 16, and firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 4.

Every year harvest regulations are reviewed, taking a wide variety of information into consideration. Department scientists use the previous year’s harvest data, winter severity information, aerial survey information, where available, and other information to estimate late winter deer abundance in each permit area. These estimates are compared to established population goals for each area and along with observation from DNR area wildlife managers, hunters, farmers, foresters and others, form the basis for final season recommendations.

“Throughout the process, coordination and discussions occur to ensure science-based decisions are guiding management decisions, with the best information we have available to us,” Murkowski said.

The regulations for each of Minnesota’s deer permit areas are set to manage deer populations toward goals established for each area. These goals are based on information from the DNR and local citizens through a periodic goal-setting process. 

There are 130 permit areas in 2017. In one deer permit area only bucks can be hunted (down from five areas last season). In 48 areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to harvest an antlerless deer (down from 67 areas). In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of harvesting a doe or a buck (up from 32 areas). Bonus permits allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer may only be used in 43 permit areas and for some special hunts (up from 24 areas).

Buying a license All hunters who purchase licenses by Sept. 7 are automatically entered into the lottery if they declare a lottery deer permit area when they buy their license. Those who do not wish to harvest an antlerless deer are encouraged to purchase their license after the lottery deadline.

Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer. 

Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-646-6367 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Permit area changes Changes in southeastern Minnesota occurred when portions of permit areas 347 and 348 were merged to form permit area 603 when chronic wasting disease was detected last fall. In northeastern Minnesota’s moose range, all or some of permit areas 122, 127, 176, 178, 180, and 181 were realigned to form permit areas 130, 131, 132 and 133.

Permit area breakdown The following is a breakdown of 2017 deer permit areas. A hunter may tag one legal buck per year, without exception. In southeastern Minnesota’s 300 series permit areas, these designations apply to both early and late – A and B – seasons.

Only male deer with one antler at least three inches long may be harvested in the bucks-only permit area 119. 

Hunters must be selected in the lottery to harvest an antlerless deer in these lottery permit areas: 103, 108, 111, 126, 132, 152, 159, 169, 173, 176, 178, 181, 183, 197, 199, 224, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 262, 266, 269, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297 and 299.

Hunters can choose to shoot a single buck or single antlerless deer in these hunter-choice permit areas: 101, 105, 110, 114, 117, 118, 130, 131, 133, 155, 156, 171, 172, 177, 179, 184, 203, 208, 219, 221, 222, 223, 230, 239, 246, 247, 249, 254, 258, 260, 273, 277, 281, 290, 298, 338, 339 and 344. 

Hunters may harvest two deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these managed permit areas: 157, 201, 209, 210, 213, 218, 225, 227, 229, 232, 233, 236, 240, 242, 248, 255, 256, 257, 259, 261, 263, 264, 265, 267, 268, 276, 292, 293, 341, 342, 343, 345 and 347.

Hunters may harvest up to three deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these intensive permit areas: 182, 214, 215, 241, 287 (no archery hunting), 346, 348 and 349. This is a change from previous years when up to five deer could be taken in intensive harvest permit areas.

Deer permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603 are open for the early antlerless-only hunt in October.

Deer with chronic wasting disease. Photo by Huntered.com

Chronic wasting disease sampling

The discovery of deer infected with chronic wasting disease that were raised in captivity on farms in Crow Wing and Meeker counties means that wild deer harvested from permit areas surrounding those farms will be tested for CWD this fall during the first two days of the firearms deer season. Those areas are:

  • North central (Crow Wing County area): Permit areas 155, 171, 172, 242, 246, 247, 248 and 249.
  • Central (Meeker County area): Permit areas 218, 219, 229, 277, 283 and 285.

Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. Testing will determine if the disease has spread.

Testing also will be mandatory during the first two days of the firearm season in permit areas surrounding the disease management zone in southeastern Minnesota. Those areas are 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349.

Deer harvested within the disease management zone – deer permit area 603 – will be tested throughout the season and carcass movement restricted until a test result is received.

Deer permit area 603 will again open for late season hunting from Jan. 6-14, 2018. More information will be available approaching the firearms deer season.

Complete CWD sampling, testing and disease management information is regularly updated on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd and details will be announced as they become available.

Proposed late-season hunt Liberal regulations have not been adequate to bring some populations to goal levels, so a new late antlerless-only hunt may be offered. The purpose of the hunt would be to reduce deer populations in deer permit areas 346 and 349 that have been over goal since at least 2010, and in area 348 which has also been above goal since 2014 and is immediately adjacent to CWD deer permit area 603. Efforts have been underway in area 603 since last winter to reduce deer densities to remove potentially positive deer and reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Proposed dates for areas 346, 348 and 349 would be the same as those for the CWD late hunt in deer permit area 603, Jan. 6-14, 2018.

Public input about this proposed late hunt will be taken at public input meetings in August in Houston and St. Paul. An opportunity to provide online input will also be provided.

Details will be announced once more information is available. A decision as to whether or not to offer this hunt will be made after the DNR considers public input.

Carcass movement restrictions Hunters who harvest deer outside the state are reminded that they cannot bring whole carcasses of any member of the deer family into Minnesota. These animals include but are not limited to white-tail deer, mule deer, black-tail deer, elk, caribou and moose. More information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports

More information Hunters need to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying for the antlerless lottery. Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR’s deer permit mapping tool, can be found online at mndnr.gov/deer.

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