DNR expands Minn. deer season opportunities
Deer hunters across most of northwest Minnesota will have more opportunities this fall, the Department of Natural Resources said this week in announcing its deer season regulations.
In the far northwest corner of the state, the DNR has designated most deer permit areas as "managed," allowing hunters to use any combination of licenses to shoot as many as two deer, only one of which can be a buck. The only deer permit areas in the far northwest not designated as managed are 260, 203 and 208, where hunter choice regulations and a one-deer limit of either sex is in effect.
Three permit areas in central Minnesota and two in the far southeast are designated as "intensive." The intensive designation allows hunters to take up to three deer, not five as in the past.
The bonus tags are available at half the price of regular tags, which cost $30 for resident adults and $160 for nonresident adults.
"Just about every area in the northwest went up a notch," said John Williams, regional wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji. That could mean going from lottery to hunters choice or from hunters choice to managed.
"It's an indication of our deer population being up," Williams said. "That's more of a concern this year than it's been for awhile."
Williams attributes the increase to two relatively mild winters and good habitat, although the loss of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program is a concern in places.
"It's unclear whether the population can rebound as high as it was when there was a lot of CRP," Williams said. "In other areas, we're seeing forest being cleared for agriculture and other reasons."
Overall, though, habitat conditions are decent, Williams said.
"I think our hunters will be fairly pleased with the number of deer they'll be seeing," Williams said.
A few changes on tap for this year's deer season:
• Portable deer stands can be left overnight in wildlife management areas in parts of northwest Minnesota, basically north of state Highway 1 and west of Fourtown, Minn., from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
• Deer hunters can use ATVs to retrieve deer on WMA lands in parts of far northwest Minnesota from the close of shooting hours to 2 hours after the close of shooting hours for the duration of the season and one day after season closes.
• A smaller area of the northwest allows ATV use on WMA lands off trail by licensed deer hunters before and after legal shooting hours and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Hunters now can wear blaze pink as a substitute for blaze orange.
• Scopes are allowed on muzzleloaders during the muzzleloader deer season.
Minnesota's regular firearms deer season opens Nov. 4 and continues through Nov. 12 in 200- and 300-series permit areas and continues through Nov. 19 in 100-series permit areas in the northeast part of the state.
Muzzleloader season begins Nov. 25 and continues through Dec.10.
For more information, check out the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations guide, available at electronic licensing system outlets or online at mndnr.gov.