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).
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 www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.