Minnesota DNR announces fall deer hunting regulations

Minnesota hunters will be able to shoot more than one deer in almost half of the state’s permit areas, the Department of Natural Resources said this week in announcing regulations for the fall deer season.

“Overall, bag-limit designations for this year are similar to last year, with a few changes in certain areas to move populations toward goal,” Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader, said in a news release.

One of the changes this year is a shift to a five-deer bag limit in areas that were previously under an unlimited antlerless bag limit. The unlimited antlerless bag limit was traditionally used to increase harvest and reduce deer densities to limit disease spread in disease management zones and manage urban deer issues in the metro deer permit area.

While few hunters take more than two deer in these areas, the unlimited designation concerned some hunters, who felt its purpose was to greatly diminish deer populations in those areas. The move to five-deer limit responds to those concerns, while not appreciably altering harvest levels and thus the DNR’s ability to meet management goals.

Mandatory sampling of deer shot in chronic wasting disease zones will resume this year, and zones have expanded following detections of the disease in wild and captive deer. In the northern part of the state, deer permit areas 184, 110, 197 and a portion of deer permit area 169 have been added to the CWD surveillance zone, following CWD detections in a farmed deer facility in Beltrami County this spring.

Deer permit areas 233 and 342, between the south metro area and the southeastern corner of the state, have also been added to the CWD surveillance zone because of additional detections of CWD-positive deer within the management zone.

Other deer season changes:

  • The DNR is changing the names of bag-limit designations to make the bag limits more clear. The one-deer limit categories are “bucks only,” “antlerless permit lottery” (formerly “lottery”) and “either-sex” (formerly “hunter choice”). “Managed” is now “two-deer limit,” and “intensive” is now “three-deer limit.” The bag-limit descriptions remain unchanged, except for the “unlimited antlerless” designation, which has been replaced with a “five-deer limit” designation.
  • Several deer permit area boundaries in southwest and northeast Minnesota have changed, based on input from the public, tribal communities and DNR staff. The changes are depicted on the 2021 Deer Season Area Map, and hunters should double-check the boundaries of any permit areas where they plan to hunt, as well as bag limits in those areas.
  • The DNR has expanded the early antlerless deer season, Oct. 21-24, to include more deer permit areas in central and southeastern Minnesota. The season increases opportunities for hunters in areas where deer populations are above population goals or where there is an increased risk of CWD spreading.
  • Hunters can apply for an antlerless permit any time between Sunday, Aug. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 9.
  • Late chronic wasting disease hunts are scheduled for Dec. 17-19 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2; additional details will be posted on the DNR website closer to hunt dates.
  • The Camp Ripley archery hunt will be a single, three-day hunt (Oct. 29-31), instead of two, two-day hunts. Applicants must apply for the Camp Ripley lottery by Aug. 20.

Additional hunting opportunities, including the annual youth deer season from Oct. 21-24 and special hunts, are listed on the deer hunting webpage.

Minnesota’s archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 18; the regular firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 6; and the muzzleloader season opens Saturday, Nov. 27. More information about the fall deer season is available in the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations handbook, available online at mndnr.gov and at hunting license vendors the first week of August.

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