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Field Reports: What Minnesota Deer Hunters can Expect this Season

MN DNR (dnr.state.mn.us)

More than 400,000 deer hunters are preparing for the firearms deer season that opens Sat­urday, Nov. 4. The season offers opportunities to spend time outdoors with friends and family, find adventure and put venison in the freezer.

Deer hunting is the primary tool used to manage deer populations, and hunters help keep deer numbers in line with population goals across the state. Managing deer populations contributes to the overall health of Minnesota’s landscapes, natural systems, and economy.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Re­sources’ wildlife managers report that there should be good opportunities to harvest deer in most areas.

Hunters should know the deer permit area (DPA) number for where they plan to hunt prior to buying a license and ensure they understand chronic wasting disease regulations and sampling options for that area. Hunters can find these details using the DPA lookup tool on the Minnesota DNR’s Make a Plan for deer season.

Deer hunters are required to have deer 1 year or older sampled for CWD in all CWD management and surveillance zones during the open­ing weekend of the firearms A season Saturday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Nov. 5, and during late CWD hunts Friday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Additional information about CWD requirements and sampling options can be found at the Minnesota DNR’s CWD webpage (mndnr.gov/cwd).

Northeastern deer report

Deer populations in many northern areas of Minnesota are still struggling to recover, following back-to-back severe winters.

During severe winters, thermal cover and forage availability become more important. In deep snow, deer have more difficulty moving around and become more susceptible to preda­tion. The best deer harvest opportunities in the northeast part of the state will be in the south­ern portion of this region, where deer numbers are higher and not affected by winter weather to the same extent as permit areas farther north.

The highest deer numbers are expected in areas of mixed habitats of open fields and forests. Scouting for local pockets of deer will improve hunter success. Hunters in far northern areas will again have fewer opportunities to harvest antlerless deer, and in some areas will only be allowed to harvest bucks. This will give lo­cal deer populations in these northern areas a chance to grow where their numbers are be­low goals established in public deer population goal-setting process.

DPAs 604 and 679 are CWD management zones where hunters must follow mandatory CWD testing requirements the opening week­end of firearms A season Nov. 4-5 and carcass movement restrictions. The city of Grand Rap­ids hunts also have mandatory sampling of all deer one year of age or older taken in any sea­son.

Deer hunting information is available on the Minnesota DNR’s deer hunting webpage (mndnr.gov/hunting/deer).

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