Deer numbers on the rise as hunters look forward to deer season

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Licenses on sale Aug. 1 

Steadily growing deer populations may produce more deer sightings and slightly more harvest opportunities for hunters during the 2016 season, although one-deer limits remain in place for much of the state. 

Hunters can look forward to seeing the growth in local deer populations following two years of mild winters and lower overall harvests,” said Adam Murkowski, Big Game Program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits starting Monday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply for the antlerless permit lottery is Thursday, Sept. 8. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 17, and firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 5.

Every year harvest regulations are set for each of Minnesota’s 128 permit areas to manage deer populations to established goals.

In northern and northeastern areas, the 2016 hunting regulations will remain somewhat conservative to allow for a controlled increase in deer numbers, resulting in lottery and bucks only designations.

In the highly productive deer permit areas in west central and southeast Minnesota, as well as areas surrounding the Twin Cities metro area, regulations are meant to use hunting as a tool to help manage local deer populations. These deer permit areas tend to either allow hunters to choose to shoot a single buck or single antlerless deer, or to allow hunters to harvest more than one deer.

In 67 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to harvest an antlerless deer (down from 70 areas last season). Only bucks can be hunted in five areas (down from 14 areas). In 32 areas, hunters have the choice of harvesting a doe or a buck (up from 29 areas). Bonus permits allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer may only be used in 24 permit areas and for some special hunts (up from 12 areas).

Details on buying a license

All hunters who purchase licenses by Sept. 8 are automatically entered into the lottery if they declare a lottery deer permit area. 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 888-665-4236 or online at Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Permit area breakdown

The following is a breakdown of 2016 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 these bucks-only permit areas: 119, 152, 169, 183 and 199.

Hunters must be selected in the lottery to harvest an antlerless deer in these lottery permit areas: 101, 103, 105, 108, 110, 111, 118, 122, 126, 155, 156, 157, 159, 171, 172, 173, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 184, 197, 203, 208, 221, 222, 224, 234, 235, 237, 238, 246, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 260, 262, 266, 269, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.

Hunters can choose to shoot a single buck or single antlerless deer in these hunter-choice permit areas: 114, 117, 127, 201, 209, 210, 218, 219, 229, 230, 233, 239, 242, 247, 254, 256, 257, 258, 259, 261, 263, 264, 265, 267, 268, 273, 276, 277, 338, 339, 344 and 347.

Hunters may harvest two deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these managed permit areas: 213, 214, 215, 223, 225, 227, 232, 236, 240, 241, 248, 255, 287 (no archery hunting), 292, 293, 341, 342, 343 345 and 348.

Hunters may harvest up to five deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these intensive permit areas: 182, 346, 349.

Hunters need to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying. Current and up-to-date information is online at the deer hunting season page. Information about deer management is available on the deer page

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